Don't Count Your Chickens, Dems

Keep voting all the way down the ballot, folks

Don't let those poll numbers lull you into letting your guard down. That's the message that Juan Sepulveda, Texas state director of the Barack Obama campaign, had for party activists at the Central Texas Demo­cratic Forum on Monday. He detailed how the Texas campaign is sending both volunteers and staff to battleground states (such as neighboring New Mexico) and trying to help Dems here. "We're worried about a couple of things," Sepulveda said. "One, it is not over, and we've got to make sure we don't get complacent.

"The second thing is that this race is going to tighten up. We started to hear people say, 'Oh, I guess we don't need to go to New Mexico anymore; that's done; it's finished; we're up by 6, 7 points there. We have to remind them that four years ago, John Kerry was at exactly the same position. He was exactly 7 points ahead of President Bush at the time, and we ended up losing New Mexico by under 6,000 votes."

Sepulveda said that this campaign is different from most presidential campaigns, which usually ignore Texas. The Obama camp knows it can't win the Lone Star State, but, "when I spoke with Steve Hil­de­brand, the deputy campaign manager who was in charge of hiring all the state directors, he knew the numbers, and he went through them with me. He said, 'You guys are five seats away from taking back the state House.' ... As I talked to Steve, as I talked to the campaign, they said, 'Look, we are going to do everything we need to do, and we are going to win on November 4, but an even more important date is going to be in January of 2009, when President Obama has to start governing, and he's going to need Texas. ... There's a little thing called the census that takes place in a couple of years, and after that census, we need the Democrats to be in charge.'"

Afterward, asked about rumblings that downballot Democratic candidates are unhappy with Texas activists being shipped out to battleground states when boots are needed on the ground here to win close con­gressional and legislative races, he replied: "In Texas we're big enough to do both. ... While we've sent about 1,000 folks out of state, it's a tiny percentage of the tens of thousands of volunteers who are still here in the state and working on downballot races."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Barack Obama, Central Texas Democratic Forum, Juan Sepúlveda , election

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