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Biden campaign adds more staff in Texas

For months, polls have pointed to a close contest in Texas between Biden, the former vice president, and President Donald Trump.

AUSTIN, Texas — Joe Biden's campaign is expanding its staff in Texas, bringing on 13 more people as the state continues to look competitive with just over seven weeks to go before the November election.

The Democratic nominee's latest hires, shared first with The Texas Tribune, include several experienced Democratic operatives from the state. They include Dallas Jones, a Houston political consultant who will serve as Biden's Texas political director, and Jackie Uresti and Jerry Phillips, who will each serve as political advisers to the campaign in Texas. Uresti was Hillary Clinton's 2016 state director, while Phillips brings deep experience around Texas House politics and previously was executive director of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

Biden's campaign has also named Bethanie Olivan as digital organizing director and Terry Bermea as organizing director. Olivan recently held similar roles for the state party and Julián Castro's presidential campaign, while Bermea is the former organizing director for Battleground Texas and was deputy state director for Michael Bloomberg's White House bid earlier this year.

The campaign also said David Gins will serve as state operations director. Gins is a former U.S. Senate staffer who has since worked for the LGBTQ Victory Fund and the data science company Civis Analytics.

The campaign announced that Victoria Godinez, a former staffer to state Rep. Diego Bernal of San Antonio, is being hired as communications associate.

Rounding out the hires are six deputy coalitions directors, most with varying levels of Texas political experience: Deidre Rasheed, Karim Farishta, Dominique Calhoun, Teri Ervin, Lola Wilson and Joseph Ramirez.

Biden's campaign has now named 19 staffers in Texas, following its initial hiring announcement in early August. The first six hires included a state director, Rebecca Acuña.

For months, polls have pointed to a close contest in Texas between Biden, the former vice president, and President Donald Trump. While Biden's campaign has discussed Texas as competitive territory and made TV ad reservations here this fall, Trump officials continue to dismiss the notion that Biden will seriously contend in the historically red state.

The Trump campaign has touted what it says is a far bigger — and longer established — presence in the state, though it has not provided specific numbers.

Still, the Trump campaign has made recent moves to shore up support in Texas. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chairs Trump's reelection effort in Texas, led a bus tour through the state earlier this month, while another group of surrogates went on a Women for Trump bus tour in the state this past weekend.

This story originally appeared Sept. 14 in The Texas Tribune