“Building Infrastructure.” It’s a phrase we use often, but what does it mean? For The States Project-endorsee Natali Hurtado, it’s leveraging every opportunity to close the gap in Texas House District 126 and improve the odds of flipping this seat in the next election.
It means that even after losing this seat in 2018 and again in 2020, Natali is still focused on what she can do to make the district more competitive, even though she doesn’t intend to run again. Through a partnership with Data 2 the People, Natali has launched a pilot program to identify every District 126 voter who ever voted for a Democrat — whether they recently moved or are long-term residents — and ensure that they are currently registered to vote.
“We’re in a state that tries their hardest to get people not to register, not to participate in the process, so we’re going to take the tactic of actually knocking on doors and talking to voters,” she said in a recent interview. “People invested in this district,” she said. “Let’s really invest by getting people registered to vote.”
After her election loss, Natali knew that she didn’t want to stop working in her district, but she wasn’t sure what shape that work could take. She came within 5,000 votes of winning the seat. And, according to her campaign, Natali received more votes than President Biden in six precincts, and she did better than the Democrats’ US Senate candidate MJ Hegar in most precincts. There seemed to be an opportunity there, but Natali wasn’t quite sure what it was.
While tossing out ideas with Akilah Bacy and Elizabeth Beck, both TSP-endorsees who became her close friends as fellow women running for office, as well as Dr. Elena Grewal of Data 2 the People, Natali realized that she wanted to build on the ground she’d gained in the 2020 election by getting more people in her community registered to vote. A pilot program using data to identify the voters most likely to flip the district emerged over several conversations.
Data scientist Jeremy Meadow and the field director for Natali’s election campaign David DeAngelo volunteered to join the team. The combination of Jeremy’s data analysis skills and David’s deep on-the-ground knowledge of the district will be critical to making this program work.
“Election day may only be one day, but we’re in a two-year cycle, and we need to keep going to keep ourselves in fighting shape,” noted David.
Natali credits The States Project’s support with helping her gain momentum between 2018 and 2020. “It said a lot to me that the Giving Circles were able to provide the seed money to really make this a legitimate campaign and help me hire my first campaign manager,” she said. “At the time, it was just me trying to juggle everything, as a mother and a wife, while working a full-time job. I took a lot of solace in knowing that I had this team along with me for the journey.”