News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bitter Kavanaugh Confirmation Battle Energizes Texas Democrats And Republicans

Gus Contreras

Surging voter-registration numbers are one sign that the bitter partisan fight over Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court is energizing voters on both sides of the aisle.

On Sunday afternoon, while many fans were cheering on their favorite NFL teams, 21-year old Alina Hilliard was at the Bexar County elections office, registering to vote for the first time. The Bexar office extended its hours to handle the surge in registrations. 

Credit Shelley Kofler / Special to KERA News
Special to KERA News
On Sunday, 21-year old Alina Hilliard registered to vote for the first time in Bexar County. She says her opposition to the Kavanaugh confirmation is one reason why.

"My grandma was always urging me to vote but I was too busy, but I kind of see it as a priority now," Hillard said.

Registering became more of a priority for her as she listened to Brett Kavanaugh deny that he sexually assaulted high school classmate Christine Blasey Ford. Hilliard believes Ford was telling the truth.

"Him being a public figure, it shows that he thinks those things are OK," she said. "For a man to be able to do that and get away with it, I think it affects me a lot."

Sylvia Mendez came to get a mail-in ballot for her disabled, 83-year-old mother.

"She was not happy how Dr. Ford was treated by the Senate so she was adamant she wanted to place her vote" for Democrats, Mendez said.

The heated party-on-party battle over Kavanaugh's nomination has prompted protests and hate-filled social media attacks on both sides.

At the Bexar elections office, one Republican couple from Boerne came to update their registrations. While they agreed to talk, they said they didn't want their names used because they're worried they'll be targeted by Democrats. Both argued that Democrats played dirty in trying to derail Kavanaugh.

In a conservative neighborhood a half hour away from the elections office, Dolores Duderstadt has decorated her front yard with Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott signs. She said she's registered and ready to vote. Duderstadt hopes Republicans won't become complacent now that Kavanaugh's on the court.

"If the Republicans lose their majority in either house the progress we've been seeing is going to stop," she said.

At a nearby convenience store, Rene Agosto is just as adamant that Democrats need to flip the House, the Senate or both. He made the case that Republicans prevented a thorough FBI investigation of Kavanaugh, and said voters shouldn't forget that.

"We're going to vote Democrat because the Republicans are basically a scam, that's my feelings," he said.

The passions surrounding Kavanaugh prompted many Texans — Republican and Democrat — to really pay attention to this midterm election for the first time. But voters often have short memories. And the rage that motivated protests and registrations in the last few weeks could fade by the time early voting starts Oct. 22. 

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.