30th Time’s A Charm: Can Texas Democrats Win in 2014?

Before any true goal can be realized, it must first be visualized, idealized, and then actualized.

Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of buzz about the Texas Democratic Party… lots of talk about how it’s only a matter of time before Texas becomes a swing state. I’ve certainly done my fair share of prognostication too (See here from before the 2012 election and here for afterwards). But now in February 2013, has anything concrete taken shape to make this goal a reality?

The current answer is… kind of. The biggest news out of Texas’ blue prospects is the creation of Battleground Texas, a left-leaning money group that is meant to help revive Lone Star Democrats. The group has pledged to put big money into the efforts, and have an aggressive media presence. If that is their true intent, it seems that they are off to a slow start. There is a website up, but it hasn’t had any activity since January 29th, and the site still lists as “Under Construction. Same for the Facebook page… no updates or activity. Of course, 2013 is not an “election year” in Texas, at least not for state-wide offices, but make no mistake that this is a critical time for political mobilization in the state. The Legislature is convened from now until June, and local elections will be held all over the state this November in cities like Houston. Without a Presidential or Gubernatorial race, it may seem like an off-year. But in my opinion, it’s anything but.

Of course it’s not like a true Texan to wait around for someone else to get a job done. Texas Democrats are working hard to get ready for 2014 right now. Groups like the Harris County Democratic Party (Houston) and the Dallas Democrats have launched new websites geared for social media organizing, and are off to an impressive start in fundraising. In Harris County, the party is focused on holding year-round events and community efforts, to not only raise money for Democrats to stay competitive, but to keep voters actively engaged year-round.

These are the types of cues that the national Democratic party should take in Texas. In order for this state to turn blue, it’s going to take serious grassroots organizing, just like we typically see in Ohio, Florida and the other “traditional” battleground states.

The other essential factor for blue state success in Texas? Strong candidates. Thankfully, the Texas Democratic bench is looking stronger than ever before. 2014 will bring state-wide races for 3 critical offices… Governor, Senate and Lieutenant Governor. Eventhough some candidates like Julian Castro have decided to sit out 2014, there are still some very capable Texans that can compete in a state-wide race.

One person to definitely watch is State Senator Wendy Davis from Ft. Worth. In a swing district that voted for McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012, Senator Davis defeated a Republican Incumbent for her first trip to the Senate, and won again in 2012. A tireless advocate for Texas public education, she has garnered much attention by mounting aggressive opposition to Republican lawmakers. If Ms. Davis were to run for either Governor or Senator, she has a serious shot, and is my TOP contender for 2014. Make sure to put her on your radar!!

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has garnered an impressive record in her nearly two terms leading the nation’s 4th largest city. She has taken bold steps to help Houston weather the economic downtown, and now public sector employment is being restored. Houston has also been a national leader in job growth during the Recovery, and all signs point continued prosperity for the city in 2013 and 2014. Not only jobs, but Mayor Parker has also worked hard to improve the quality of life for Houstonians through massive investments in the city’s infrastructure, parks and bike trails. She’s managed to do it all through meticulous work on the city’s budget, and partnering with local business leaders. Though Mayor Parker has already committed to run for a third term, Texas Democrats can expect big things from her in the near future.

Equally impressive at the local level is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. He garnered national attention last year after delivering the keynote address for the Democratic National Convention. Thanks to that, more Americans now know his name. But what they may not know is how hard he’s been working on behalf of the great city of San Antonio, whose voters not only re-elected Castro by a whopping 82 percent in 2011, but approved a landmark new early childhood initiative in 2012. Pre-K for SA establishes city-wide Pre-Kindergarten for all San Antonio kids, and is funded by city taxpayers. It’s sure to be a national model not unlike what President Obama mentioned in the 2013 State of the Union speech. Thanks to Mayor Castro’s leadership, San Antonio is getting is done. Texas Democrats… don’t be surprised if President Obama shows up in Texas soon. And if he does, expect Mayor Castro to be in the vicinity. For the moment, Castro has again committed to run for a 3rd (and final) term as Mayor of San Antonio. With such hearty commitments to Texas’ children, Wendy Davis and Julian Castro would make quite a team on a state-wide ballot.

Mayor Castro’s twin brother is U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro. Though he’s a freshman in Congress, Joaquin is no slouch to Austin politics having just finished a 10-year run in the Texas legislature. He’s built his political career on a solid record of bi-partisan accomplishments, and has lately become a very popular commentator with the national news media. As Immigration reform continues to be a hotly- contested issue on Capitol Hill, we should all expect Congressman Castro to be a key figure. That alone would be enough to put him on the radar for a state-wide office.

I’ll be looking at more candidates later.

Houston’s “Air War” is apparently over

Maybe Houston’s airport saga is a lot like the coming month of March… in like a LION, out like a lamb?

As readers may recall from last year, the biggest news in Houston politics was regarding the bid by Southwest Airlines to expand Hobby into an International Airport, while bearing the FULL cost of the expansion. Once United Airlines (of which Houston’s main International Airport IAH is its largest hub) learned of this, the company launched a full-scale campaign to de-rail Southwest’s plans. United Airlines mobilized its employees, and warned citizens of massive layoffs at IAH if the Hobby plans were approved. And of course, they immediately threatened 1,300 layoffs as soon as City Council approved the Hobby expansion. Though as some have pointed out, United was likely looking for an excuse to make the job cuts. Layoffs in 2012 are quite suspect when Hobby’s new services wouldn’t even be online until 2015.

But now that the deeds are done, both Hobby and IAH have continued to operate with little drama since then. And today, the City Council approved not only the authorization of International services at Hobby, but also a continuation and clarification of plans by United to expand Terminal B at IAH!! No cat fighting, and no drama.

There you go United Airlines… out like a lamb.

Vive L’ Égalité: French National Assembly passes marriage equality

Talk about a Mardi Gras worth celebrating!!

The slogan Liberté, égalité, fraternité just became a whole lot more EQUAL today. In a sweeping 329-229 vote, the French National Assembly has passed BOTH marriage equality and same-sex adoption for the country. It now heads the Senate, which all signs indicate that the bill will pass and become law.

For the GLBT movement in France, Le jour de gloire est arrivé!!!

Bill Clinton’s 1985 SOTU Response

Since 1966, the Response of the party opposite to the State of the Union has become almost as large a tradition as the speech itself, and it has been used by both parties very effectively. The response has been well known to mint rising stars within party politics, and they typically go on to have a great future within the party. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Republicans have chosen Marco Rubio to give their response tonight in 2013… they see him having a bright, and perhaps Presidential future.

So let’s flash back to 1985, when the shoe was on the other foot. Democrats had just suffered an historic loss with the reelection of Ronald Reagan. And if you don’t believe me, take a look at the numbers.

Reagan won 525 electoral votes to Mondale’s 13. Talk about “Red State”… WHOA.

So clearly, Democrats were down for the count, and had some serious work to do. In that moment, the party turned to a little-known Governor from a small state to catch the eyes and ears of millions of national viewers. That Governor was William Jefferson Clinton. With an entire nation clearly behind the Republican vision for the country, Clinton and the Democrats had a huge job to do that night. If you’re a Democrat, this speech will conjure up some serious deja vu. What amazed me the most is that the values that are at the heart of the Democratic party are still the very same today… bringing people together, recognizing the important role of government while promoting efficiency and accountability, and the sense that “we’re all in this together”.

Perhaps the best quote from Clinton was the following…

“Our critics have said we are for too much government, while they want the government off our backs. Well, we want the government off our backs too, but we need it by our sides.”

Simple and effective. A President in the making. Like this clip, Democrats can make an even bigger comeback in 2014 if they do just what Governor Clinton did here. Keep is simple and relatable. Here’s hoping that President Obama will do that tonight.

Bill O’Reilly’s LIES about NBC/ MSNBC Drone Coverage

The O’Reilly factor remains the number one cable news show on television (at least according to Neilsen ratings, which doesn’t account for online viewership). His ratings beat any of the shows on MSNBC or CNN. He’s the “top dog”.

Knowing this is why it’s simply inexcusable for Mr. O’Reilly to continue to LIE about the dedicated journalism of NBC News (of which MSNBC and NBC News are inextricably linked) with regard to American drone strikes. O’Reilly claims DIRECTLY that NBC News has been mum on drone strikes. He accuses NBC News directly of protecting the President, and asks “why aren’t they speaking out” about drones.

This is complete and utter nonsense. NBC News has been relentless in their criticism of the Obama Administration’s drone program, and the very scary issues regarding it. The proof is out in the real world for all of YouTube to see. So I’ve decided to provide a little compendium of the drone coverage.

From my recollection, here’s Rachel Maddow’s first story covering the drone war… aired December 5th, 2009

And further coverage of Maddow discussing the death of Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan by drone strike. She’s openly criticizing the Obama Administration because Al-Awlaki and Khan were American citizens. This was in 2011…

Oh, and nevermind that Ms. Maddow’s book Drift discusses drone strikes as a central tennet of military privitization.

And then of course, Tuesday night… when Ms. Maddow interviewed Michael Isikoff after he obtained classified documents on the drone strikes.

So it’s time for Bill O’Reilly to come clean and simply admit that he lied to his viewers. With all of the coverage that NBC News and MSNBC have done about drone strikes, there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that the educated and informed staff of the O’Reilly Factor could have missed Rachel Maddow’s criticism of the Obama Administration on this. The jig is up O’Reilly… and we are calling you out.

BREAKING: MA’s Scott Brown will NOT run for Senate

From the Huffington Post, after a swirl of many rumors, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is reportedly not going to run in the upcoming Special election for John Kerry’s open Senate seat. Earlier in the week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick appointed his close confidant and former staffer William Cowan to serve as interim Senator until the Special election is held this summer.

This comes as a “big relief” for Democrats, but it will be interesting to see what former Senator Brown does soon. Many would be surprised if this is the last we see of him…