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If Bush loses, what happens in Texas?

BOSTON — Even while busy officially nominating John Kerry for president, Texas Democrats concede President Bush is almost certain to win his home state. The Texas delegation held up red cards during Wednesday night’s presidential roll-call to signify Texas is a “red” Republican state on electoral maps.

But to demonstrate their hopes for the future, the delegates flipped the cards to show the blue on the other side — for a Democratic “blue” state.

“We certainly can make Texas a blue state again,” Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros told the delegates at their breakfast meeting Thursday. ((7/29/04)) “There is no reason in the world that the Republicans have to control every statewide office in Texas.”

If Texas Democrats help get out the vote in neighboring states, including some Bush carried in 2000, they can help put Kerry in the White House. And that can reverberate in Texas much sooner than might have seemed possible, Cisneros said.

Several states Bush carried in 2000 have elected Democratic governors or senators, Cisneros said. If Texas Democrats help in states such as Indiana, Missouri and Arkansas, Kerry might carry them too, Cisneros said.

With Kerry in the White House, “we will remove the dominance of the George Bush machine in Texas” and de-fang Bush political adviser Karl Rove, Cisneros predicted. With Bush gone, Democrats could rebound in Texas, Cisneros said.

“Texas at heart is not a Republican state.”

Democratic Congressman Gene Green of Houston called on the delegates to help preserve five Democratic congressmen “in peril because of Tom DeLay,” plus several tight races for the Texas House of Representatives.

DeLay, the Republican House majority leader from Sugar Land, engineered the first mid-decade congressional redistricting not ordered by the courts, with the aim of unseating several Texas Democrats. They include Lloyd Doggett of Austin, Chet Edwards of Waco, Charles Stenholm of Stamford, Martin Frost of Arlington, Max Sandlin of Marshall, and Nick Lampson of Beaumont. Doggett’s new district, which reaches to the Mexican border, leans heavily Democratic, but the others have tough races, including two — Frost and Stenholm — against Republican incumbents.

Congressman Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio, whose district was reconfigured enough that he may have lost a hotly contested primary to a former friend from the Texas House of Representatives, Henry Cuellar of Laredo, said Democrats have the potential to win.

“We have the numbers to turn it around,” Rodriguez said. “The key is turning them out.”

Congressman Jim Turner of Crockett in East Texas, another Texas Democrat whose district was reconfigured so much that he didn’t seek reelection, said by helping his colleagues survive politically, the Democrats can build political momentum.

“Let’s make Democrats the majority party in Texas again,” said Turner.