Race Not an Issue in Texas Contests

Two big Lone Star state contests that pit a white Republican against a minority Democrat are likely not to be decided by minority voters, political analysts say, in part because there aren't enough minority voters to sway the vote.

"In Texas, the vote that is still up for grabs is the Anglo vote, the white vote," said Cal Jilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

"[The minority vote] will not be enough to win an election," said political columnist Lee Cullum. "Ron Kirk and Tony Sanchez both must do well with white voters."

Sanchez is challenging President Bush's Republican successor Rick Perry to make a home in the Texas governor's mansion and Kirk is battling state Attorney General John Cornyn for retiring Republican Sen. Phil Gramm's seat.

Democrats, perhaps counting the numbers, insist that race is not an issue in these races.

"These two gentlemen are at the top of their tickets, not because of their ethnicity but because they are the most qualified people to lead this state," said state Democratic Party chair Mary Beth Malcolm.

Sanchez insists he is not running as an Hispanic and Kirk claims the fact that he is black is irrelevant. Both candidates are campaigning as business-friendly moderates. 

Kirk, however, much more than Sanchez, occasionally shows flashes of a liberal agenda before heading back to the center, observers say.

"Sometimes, he'll get before an audience, he'll drift toward the more liberal national Democratic stance on an issue, find himself there, be startled to be there and get back quickly to the middle," Jilson said.

Traditionally, 90 percent of Texas' black voters are dedicated Democrats, and with the exception of George Bush's run for governor, the same goes for the majority of Hispanics.

But blacks only make up 15 percent of the voters on Election Day, Hispanics 12 percent. That's not enough to capture a statewide election.

Analysts warn that such blind faith in the party formula, and the candidates who represent it, creates an atmosphere in which minorities allow themselves to be taken for granted while individual candidates' issues are largely overlooked.

Fox News' Mike Tobin contributed to this report.