THE REPUBLICAN TAKEOVER of Texas was gradual. First came the shocking upset of populist Democratic Gov. Ann Richards in 1994, who was upset by the party boy-turned-evangelical George W. Bush. Two years later, the GOP flipped the state Senate. It wasn’t until the midterms of 2002, with Bush in the White House and riding a post-9/11 wave of popularity, that Texas Republicans achieved their trifecta.
The new majority went to work quickly on two primary objectives: to make Texas the most hospitable state in the country for business and the least hospitable for Democrats. By most measures, they delivered on both fronts. Yet success on their first objective ended up, to Republicans’ great surprise, undermining their second. Texas did indeed become home to hundreds of thousands of new jobs as companies either launched or newly headquartered there with generous subsidies and low taxes. The problem for Republicans is that the environment they built to attract those companies also drew people to the state who are not Republicans.