By Kyle Peveto, Staff Writer
Democratic candidate for Texas Governor Tony Sanchez recently claimed in the Austin-American Statesman and the San Antonio Express-News that his ethnicity is hurting his candidacy in some parts of the state.
In the Oct. 9 issue of the Statesman, Sanchez said, “It’s just that north part, when you get past Dallas County to those northern counties, they are just very conservative… I don’t think I’m accepted there.”
“Mr. Sanchez’s comments continue to be divisive, misguided and insulting to the integrity of Texans,” said Dan Morales, former Texas Attorney General and the Democrat whom Sanchez defeated in the primary, in a Republican Party of Texas news release.
“I really don’t think it (his ethnicity) makes a huge difference,” said Minnie Reid, a sophomore accounting major from Abilene.
“Nobody wants to say it, but race does matter,” said Dr. David Dillman, professor of political science. “If it has not been on the surface, it’s below the surface.”
Race, ethnicity and gender have always been political factors, Dillman added.
“I see certain regions of our state where that may be a problem,” said Melanie McRay, junior Bible major from Houston.
Some students cite other reasons for Sanchez’s low poll numbers.
“I personally think it’s his negative tactics,” said Harry Conner, a master of divinity student from Grand Prairie.
Texas’ Hispanic population has grown rapidly in the last decade. Anglos now represent less than 50 percent of the population and 2040 state projections say 78 percent of Texans will be Hispanic. Recent polls by the Houston Chronicle found that 44 percent of Hispanics have little interest in the governor’s race.
“Hispanics don’t vote,” said Art Casrillejos, a recent graduate of ACU and the current Bean Sprout supervisor. “If they see something not right with a person they just don’t vote.”
Republican and incumbent candidate for Governor Rick Perry leads Sanchez by nine points in a Houston Chronicle poll. Sanchez, a multimillionaire Laredo oilman, has already spent over $30 million dollars on his campaign and is on his way to spending more money than any candidate in Texas history.