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2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries heat up in Texas

AUSTIN – U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, has hired a Texas campaign director and opened offices in at least five cities here. Ads for fellow Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg in English and Spanish, air endlessly on TVs across the state. College students across Texas campuses register to vote in surprising numbers, readying for a chance to choose the next president.

Texas – long a reliably Republican state and historically neglected by Democratic presidential candidates – suddenly finds itself in unfamiliar territory: a relevant and courted state in the middle of a heated Democratic presidential primary season.

During Super Tuesday on Mar. 3, Texas’ 228 delegates will be up for grabs on a proportional basis – the third-largest delegate count of the primary season, behind California and New York. With the muddled results of the Iowa caucuses, where technical glitches delayed announcing a winner for several days, and some candidates, like Bloomberg, betting that Texas catapults them into the running, the Lone Star State is gaining increased significance.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts campaigns in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 10, 2019.

Analysts and observers also point to the surge in Democratic activity here as a sign that Texas could potentially be competitive in this year’s presidential general election, something that hasn’t happened in more than two decades.

“Historically, all the action has been on the Republican side and the Republican primaries,” said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston. “Twenty-twenty is the year when all the action is on the Democratic side.”

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