After a shocking Democratic victory in Alabama, Texas Leftist is also left to wonder if something similar could happen for the Lone Star State. What lessons, if any, can be learned by the Doug Jones campaign, and could they apply to Texas? Here’s Part 1 of that question, with some surprising observations.
Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore was made possible by the surge of African American voters in Alabama, a trend Democrats in Texas and across the country would be wise to duplicate, blogs PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.
As President Trump eggs them on, Republicans in the United States Congress are racing towards their own self-imposed finish line at historic speed. Desperate for a major legislative accomplishment, they are clearing every possible hurdle to pass a massive, omnibus, and until last Friday afternoon, mysterious tax bill which will have major implications for generations of American citizens. To give you an idea of the speed with which this legislative “process” has occurred, the first actual bill was introduced in the US House on November 2nd, 2017– just 48 days ago.
But while Republicans have put all of their eggs into one HUGE “Tax Reform” basket, millions of American families have been left to worry and wait. In a few short weeks, Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program will begin to run out across the country, leaving real kids and families without the ability to pay for life-saving medications, doctor’s visits and medical procedures. While every state is set to run out of funding by July of next year, children in Texas are at risk of losing their funding by the end of January. Here’s more from Sam Petulla of CNN…
Sixteen states will run out of federal funding for CHIP — the Children’s Health Insurance Program — by the end of January, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Three-quarters of all states expect to exhaust funds by the end of March unless Congress can agree to fund it. (Scroll to the bottom for the full list.)
Low and middle income kids like the ones in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. As Santiago Caicedo of KGBT News- Valley Central.com reports, Texas has a plan in place to cover additional funding, but it won’t last very long…
By the end of Feb. 2018, 400,000 children in the state of Texas could be without government subsidized health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP.
“You have counties along the Texas-Mexico border where three quarters of the children are enrolled in either Medicaid or CHIP,” said Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director for Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities.
In the meantime, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving Texas $135 million to continue the program through February. After that, CHIP will no longer receive funding from the federal government.
“The alternative is, do we pay bills, our gas, our light, or do we buy medication?” said Diana Martínez from McAllen.
Amazingly enough, the whole situation has been surprisingly quiet on Capitol Hill, with Republican leaders continuing to assure the press that the funding will be renewed, and Democrats, understandably, hesitant to make this a political issue. Healthcare for our nation’s kids should never be political.
But at some point, we have to state the obvious. If everyone is so confident that this is going to get done, then why hasn’t it already been done? And WHY does something like a Tax bill take precedence over the health and safety of families?? The inauguration was held on January 20th. This could’ve been passed long before December. Should American families be worried that one of their top priorities continues to languish at the wayside, while Congressional leaders hoist all of their strength into tax cuts??
For the children of Texas, the choice is crystal clear. Maybe Congress needs to reconsider its priorities, and put our children first.
In a week filled with fast-moving political news, the Alabama victory of Senator- Elect is still the most fascinating out there. In his stunning defeat of Republican Roy Moore, Doug Jones became the First Democrat to win a United States Senate election in 25 years.
In an off- off year election, this particular race has dominated the national media, in part because of Roy Moore’s many, many flaws as a candidate, not the least of which is his past filled with allegations of sexual harassment. But even with that history factored in, the election of Democrat Jones in a state that Donald Trump won by a whopping 28 points just a year earlier indicates that the pendulum may be swinging in the Democrats’ favor for 2018.
Here’s what Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin of The New York Times noticed after the November 2017 elections in New Jersey and Virgina…
RICHMOND, Va. — The American suburbs appear to be in revolt against President Trump after a muscular coalition of college-educated voters and racial and ethnic minorities dealt the Republican Party a thumping rejection on Tuesday and propelled a diverse class of Democrats into office.
From the tax-obsessed suburbs of New York City to high-tech neighborhoods outside Seattle to the sprawling, polyglot developments of Fairfax and Prince William County, Va., voters shunned Republicans up and down the ballot in off-year elections. Leaders in both parties said the elections were an unmistakable alarm bell for Republicans ahead of the 2018 campaign, when the party’s grip on the House of Representatives may hinge on the socially moderate, multiethnic communities near major cities.
And just one month later in Alabama, similar trends seemed to bare out. A diverse coalition of suburban voters in Alabama’s 5 largest counties put Roy Moore over the top, and completely erased Trump’s massive margin of victory from 2016.
Interestingly enough, Texas voters have already shown movement in this direction. As I’ve written in the past, a big sign post for Texas to ever be considered a Swing State is not only Democrats winning in urban counties, but when they also become competitive in the suburbs. After years of reliable Republican wins in suburban counties, that streak finally ended in 2016. Not only was Donald Trump beaten in urban counties like Harris (Houston), Dallas and El Paso, but the suburban county of Fort Bend also went for Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump won the state of Texas by 9 percentage points, the smallest margin of victory for a Republican presidential candidate since the Bill Clinton era, and nearly 6 percentage points below Mitt Romney’s 2012 Texas victory over Barack Obama. So the lesson here? As with the rest of the country, 2018 is the year for Texas Democrats to get back into the suburbs, win or lose. While urban centers are still hugely important, Democrats cannot afford to leave our suburban friends out of the political conversation.
What else was interesting from the Alabama contest?
If you’ve been a bit disconnected this week, or if your attention has been drawn to so much else occurring in the news, you can be forgiven for missing out on critical development for the fight for Net Neutrality in the United States.
But before we go there, let’s back up a bit, courtesy of ABC News‘ Lindsey Jacobson…
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the principle that ISPs treat all content equally and not give preference to some digital content providers. That means the consumer can load every website, app, video, .gif, etc., equally, regardless of where the content is hosted. For example, an ISP may not charge more for sites that stream movies or promote a specific agenda. This is also referred to as the open internet.
When was the current net neutrality law passed?
After a request from President Obama after public comments, the FCC voted in February 2015 to classify consumer broadband service as a public utilityunder Title II Order of the 1934 Communications Act. Under that law, the FCC adopted no-blocking, no-throttling and no-paid-prioritization rules, according to the notice of proposed rulemaking released by the FCC. The measure controls how companies provide services to consumers. Under this order, the internet is deemed a common carrier or public utility, so ISPs are regulated. Other public utilities include electricity and phone service companies.
Yes, you read that correctly… the laws which govern Net Neutrality actually pre-date the internet as we know it by over 70 years. And therein lies the heart of the conflict. The Obama administration held a fundamental belief that internet access is now as vital a utility as access to telephones (you know, back when telephones only had one function) or electricity. They set rules, via the Federal Communications Commission, that internet access should be equal and open to all.
As you can imagine, the Trump Administration, Republican Congress and many of his corporate backers feel differently. Here’s what happened this week, via Jacob Kastrenakes of The Verge…
Net neutrality is dead — at least for now. In a 3-2 vote today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a measure to remove the tough net neutrality rules it put in place just two years ago. Those rules prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes. They also classified internet providers as Title II common carriers in order to give the measure strong legal backing.
Today’s vote undoes all of that. It removes the Title II designation, preventing the FCC from putting tough net neutrality rules in place even if it wanted to. And, it turns out, the Republicans now in charge of the FCC really don’t want to. The new rules largely don’t prevent internet providers from doing anything. They can block, throttle, and prioritize content if they wish to. The only real rule is that they have to publicly state that they’re going to do it.
Within hours of the Party-line vote (the 2 Democrats on the FCC voted to uphold the rules, vs. the 3 Republicans), several states announced lawsuits that are to be filed against the Trump administration.
So sure… a ruling by the Trump-era FCC that is clearly misguided, and potentially dangerous for our ability to live our modern lives. But remember… these are all FCC rules. If Americans care enough about preserving an open internet, it’s time to take this fight to the ballot box so that the principle of Net Neutrality can become LAW. Even with The current Presidency in place until 2021, there’s plenty that can be done in state legislatures, and in the courts to put pressure on the White House to change its mind. But the true test of this fight happens in November. This should be a question that is put to every candidate running for Congress, and adopted in political party platforms so voters have the power to choose.
So instead of worrying about the FCC’s rules, let’s work to change the law and ensure Net Neutrality will last longer than the next Administration.
First elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, Congressman Blake Farenthold has been an interesting character to watch in Texas politics, and a rather confusing presence for the good people of the state’s 27th Congressional District. The winner of a razor-thin contest that year, the district was then gerrymandered(or as some prefer to say, gerrymangled) so much that it now leans heavily Republican. This has perpetuated a series of easy victories for the Congressman, even when he says and does things that may conflict with the needs and values of his constituents. His views on issues like immigration, for example, have been the source of much controversy. But with such a safe district now in his favor, Texans have wondered if there would ever be a way to challenge the legislator.
Well, as it turns out, the greatest challenger to Blake Farenthold happens to be his own behavior. As Abby Livingston of the Texas Tribune reports, the powerful Congressman’s time in Washington is now coming to an end…
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, will retire from Congress after finishing his current term, a source close to the congressman told The Tribune Thursday morning. Farenthold soon confirmed the decision in an emotional video posted on Facebook.
The decision came after a difficult December for the four-term congressman. Farenthold, one of the quieter members of the Texas delegation, found himself embroiled in a charged atmosphere of sexual harassment allegations in Washington, D.C.
The final blow came in the form of a CNN report on Wednesday night highlighting new sexual harassment allegations that included former employees describing the congressman as verbally abusive and sexually demeaning.
While he “expected a tough primary campaign” and “was looking forward to it,” Farenthold said he would retire instead.
“I would be forced to engage in a month-long campaign for personal vindication,” he said. “That’s not why I came to Congress. Quite simply, my constituents deserve better.”
And on that last point, we have to agree. the constituents of his district definitely deserve better, and have deserved better for a long time. Just like US taxpayers deserved better than to have to pay $84,000 in taxpayer money for to settle a previous sexual harassment claim against him. Only when knowledge of the settlement became public did Farenthold, a millionaire, pledge to reimburse the funds with his own money.
With its present boundaries, Texas 27th will still be a tough race for any Democratic hopeful looking to flip the District. But at least now, they don’t have to worry about the incumbent.
As Texas Leftist slowly makes an effort to get back in the saddle for 2018, he’s thankful for the incredible work of all of his blogging colleagues. Before we leap into next year’s political hopefuls, it’s worth note that a former Texas elected official made a big move this week. Get ready to see and hear more from Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker in 2018.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Chuck Smith breaks down the Colorado bake shop/same sex marriage case that was argued at SCOTUS.
The Bloggess is once again spearheading a grassroots effort to help people in need for the holidays.
Dwight Silverman has some advice for people who are looking for gifts for their techie friends and family.
Better Texas Blog explains how the Republican tax cut bill threatens local and state public services.
Dos Centavos is looking forward to the 2018 Democratic primary.
Off in the distance, there’s a big blue stampede starting in Texas. If you can’t hear it yet, just wait until February and March.
For years now, Texas Democrats have been trapped in something of an electoral feedback loop. Save for a few gerrymandered districts, the party has been unable to gain traction across the state, with virtually no hope of taking a statewide office or gaining a legislative majority anywhere outside of the city hall or county courthouse. The loop basically works like this… in order to recruit down-ballot candidates to run, Democrats first need to find an inspiring top-ticket candidate. But the only way to find a top-ticket candidate was for them to rise up from a crop of good down-ballot candidates.
But, as all things seem to be in 2017, new rules abound. As Ashley Lopez of KUT Austin reports, Texas Democrats are done sitting on the sidelines, and ready to run next year…
In deep-red Texas, Republicans will have to fight for every congressional seat in next year’s midterm elections. For the first time in 25 years, Democrats are running in all of Texas’ 36 congressional districts, according to documents filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office.
Mark Jones, political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, says those filings set a record for the number of Democratic challengers in an era of Republican dominance, and are a departure from 2016 – when eight Republican-held congressional seats went uncontested by Democrats.
“We are seeing a groundswell of unusually high support and mobilization among progressive Democrats who are really angered by the Trump administration,” Jones said.
But, Democrats aren’t just gunning for congressional seats. According to preliminary numbers from the Texas Democratic Party, Democrats are running in 89 percent of the seats in the Texas House and 88 percent of the seats in the Texas Senate. Both are the highest percentages the party has mustered since at least 1992.
Though the Secretary of State’s office is still awaiting final certification from the Parties, you can view the impressive list of candidate filings here. If you’re not yet registered to VOTE in the March 6th Primary Election, you can get that info atVoteTexas.gov.
Call it anger, inspiration, education… call it what you what. As 2018 approaches, Texas Democrats seem to have found “it” again. Finally a blue stampede is on for the Lone Star State. But whether all of that motivation can finally turn into some results remains to be seen. But like the big blue skies of a Texas Winter or the bluebonnets of a Texas Spring, hope springs eternal.
Historic times call for historic activities. Along with a bigger-then-ever TLCQ 2018 series, Texas Leftist will also be working to report on select races as they unfold. Keep your eyes and ears ready.