Category Archives: Politics

More Evidence: Texas Doesn’t Vote

If you know one thing about Battleground Texas, you know that their organization is taking on a huge task… re-make the voting electorate of the Lone Star State.

And as Ross Ramsey from the Texas Tribune writes, they’ve still got a long way to go to be able to do it.

Senate District 3, the most populous in the state in 2012, had 843,567 people; the least populous, Senate District 28, had 778,341. But look at the differences between populations of voting-age citizens: Senate District 3 had 603,385, while Senate District 6, now represented by Garcia, had 372,420. Even with identical percentage turnouts, one district would have more votes than the other.

That is the basis for one argument against the current districts in Texas, but it doesn’t account for the biggest disparity. Texans in one district do not seem to have the same urge to vote as their counterparts in other areas. Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, won in District 25, where 64.6 percent of the voting-age population cast ballots. Hers was one of three districts where more than 60 percent of adult residents voted. Garcia’s district, in that 2012 election, had a 37.1 percent turnout — one of three Senate districts with less than 40 percent.

The turnout numbers were low not just because of the low voting-age population — the number who got off their sofas to cast ballots in those districts was also abysmal. Those numbers offer a peek into the design of the political maps drawn by Republican legislators: The districts that turn out the most voters tend to favor Republicans by a wide margin in statewide elections, while the lowest turnouts are typically in Democratic districts.

Similarly large disparities show up on congressional and House maps.

Nick Lampson, a Democrat who ran in the 14th Congressional District, received 24,583 more votes in 2012 than Democrat Marc Veasey, but they were in different districts. Veasey went to Congress. Lampson went home. This is even more dramatic: Veasey won the 33rd Congressional District seat with 85,114 votes. His colleague Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, received 194,043 — more than twice as many.

Ramsey tries to be diplomatic here, but to be even more specific, Texas DEMOCRATS don’t vote.  Congressman Veasey represents a heavily Democratic district, while Lampson competed in a district that leans GOP.

But Texas Democrats are definitely out there.  We know this because we’ve seen them before.  The 2008 Texas Primary garnered 2,868,454 Democrat voters to a mere 1,384,663 on the GOP side.  Great candidates, in combination with the right message can drive Democrats to the polls, even in the Lone Star State.  Hopefully Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte and others will find that formula for the 2014 election.

2008 Primaries

Texoblogosphere: week of April 28th

The Texas Progressive Alliance strongly favors net neutrality as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff notes another redistricting lawsuit, this one filed by people who think our Senate districts aren’t white enough.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos discovers Rick Perry and Greg Abbott were for the right of eminent domain before they were against it. Rick Perry and Greg Abbott want to play Cliven Bundy in Texas.

Horwitz at Texpatriate reports that a majority of Houston City Councilmembers support a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston reports on Greg Abbott calling for drug testing 4 year olds.

Greg Abbott tried to ride Cliven Bundy’s coattails in a land dispute with the feds at the Red River, but after Bundy “told us what he knew about the Negro”, the attorney general was forced to jump off. (Are those figures of speech insensitive to a man in a wheelchair?)

Neil at All People Have Value said most folks correctly realize that the poor are just trying to get by and do well in a tough world. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

DosCentavos tells us that more cities are thumbing their nose at SCOMM, and that El Prez/ICE is just about done with their deportation review–but it may not be what activists want to hear. Plus DC has a new font for the logo!

Texas Leftist has a new website!! Introducing the NEW texasleftist.com!!!

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme calls out Democrat John Whitmire for sounding like a soulless, heartless, Republican.

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Rivard Report documents the history of pay discrimination and legislation to outlaw it.

The Lunch Tray reports on new research concerning the effect of using food as a reward in classrooms.

The Bloggess writes about a threat letter her daughter’s school received, and the importance of talking about such things with our kids.

Juanita takes the Statesman to task for a misleading headline about the grand jury that is currently investigating Rick Perry.

The Texas Green Report considers whether Tesla will build its battery plant in Texas.

Ride On Metro celebrated Lights Out Houston.

Finally, the TPA congratulates Randy Bear for being named the City Skeptic of San Antonio.

DGA Has Little Faith in Wendy Davis

A central part of the Democratic Party fundraising apparatus, the Democratic Governors Association is a group devoted to the nation’s gubernatorial races.  They pour in millions of dollars each year to turn the highest state offices around the country blue.

But if you’re a Texan, don’t expect much from them to help Wendy Davis get to the Governors’ Mansion.  Apparently because Texas Democrats have gone so long without a major win, the big money group have little faith that she can pull an upset. Here’s the take from the Wall Street Journal

 

Despite the hype surrounding Texas Democrat Wendy Davis’ run for governor, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association didn’t include her state in a list of top targets in 2014.

Ms. Davis, a state senator, gained national acclaim for filibustering a bill last year that increased regulation of abortion clinics and banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Polls show Republican nominee  Greg Abbott with a double-digit lead in the state, which hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1994.

“We’re hopeful in Texas but we all understand that Democrats haven’t won Texas in a long time,” DGA Chairman and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin told reporters Tuesday at the Third Way think tank. He added,  “We hope this will be our year.”

Mr. Shumlin singled out Paul LePage in Maine, Rick Scott in Florida and Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania as the most vulnerable Republican incumbents. In the second tier are a trio of Midwestern governors  who also represent states won by President Barack ObamaScott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio and Rick Snyder in Michigan.

 

It’s worth noting that Governor Shumlin’s assessment seems like an initial one, and as the 2014 season heats up, this could certainly change.  But if I were the Davis campaign, this should be a clarion call to help fund raise and further motivate Texas’ ‘sleeping giant’ Democratic base.  You never know… an email titled “Even Washington’s against us” may play better with Lone Star Independents than had she earned firm DGA support.  It seems like Davis has already figured this out.  From the San Antonio Express News, here’s the response from Davis campaign manager Karin Johanson…

 

“The uninformed opinions of a Washington, DC desk jockey who’s never stepped foot in Texas couldn’t be less relevant to what’s actually happening on the ground.

 

I couldn’t agree more.  This race isn’t going to be won because of something a Washington organization does anyway.  In Texas, the only Washington that Davis needs to care about is Washington-On-The-Brazos.  This state can only be won by re-making the Texas electorate, and getting people to come off from the sidelines to vote.  This is Davis’ most important goal, and they should keep their eyes on the prize.  In recent week’s she has done an excellent job of letting her independent spirit shine through, and that is what truly matters.

 

Minimum Wage Misconceptions

Like most teenagers, I was not only excited to have my first full-time job, but proud to know that I had reached a significant milestone in my life. I didn’t have to rely on my parents for every want and need anymore. By having a job, and making my own money, I was able to contribute (in a very small way) to the household income, even if it was just by asking them for less spending cash directly. The minimum wage was a staggering $5.15 per hour back then, and I thought was really living the life by getting hired at $5.25. A full 10 cents higher!! I’ll never forget going to pick up my first paycheck of thirty-two dollars and fifteen cents. No great sum by any measure, but being my sum it was great to me.

I’ll also never forget the first time I worked the day shift at my job… a Sonic Drive-In in my hometown of Benton, Arkansas. Unlike the boisterous teenagers that ruled the store at night, Sonic’s day crew was very different. Most of them were older women who were at the store all day, working as many hours as they possibly could. I remember times when I would practically beg for extra hours, and asked my manager if I could work on Saturday mornings. She would always say “not unless you’re called in.” When I asked why, and was persistent, she would say “because they need the hours more.”

I didn’t understand it very well back then, but now those situations make a lot more sense. My managers weren’t being mean. They knew that the adult crew’s hours were truly a need, and not just a teenage want. As David Cooper and Dan Essrow of the Economic Policy Institute explain, the experience most Americans had with minimum wage work in their teens does not reflect the reality of those trying to survive on those wages. A full one-third of all persons working for minimum wage are over the age of 40. That means they aren’t just working to earn money for Friday night, but are struggling to support their families and put enough food on the table so that everyone can eat. They are trying to stem the tide of a constant stream of crises… hoping the car will run until payday, praying for their child to not get sick because they can’t afford to go to the doctor, praying that the lights will stay on until the end of the month. What seems to be petty annoyances to most in the middle class are a full-blown catastrophe to those making minimum wage.

No better place to witness these struggles than the Lone Star State. According to the Dallas Morning News, Texas is “king of the crop” for minimum wage earnings. Of the 3.6 million workers making the federal minimum, 452,000 of them are Texans. And though Texas is still one of the cheapest places to live in the United States, it may not be that way for long. The cost of living in cities like Austin has risen rapidly, with the state’s other big metros not far behind. Adding insult to injury is the fact that poor Texans continue to be denied vital assistance with healthcare, thanks to Governor Perry and Attorney General Abbott’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Despite what many say to the contrary, Texas’ working poor are struggling just like those in other states.

As we enter a new year, it’s time for the country to get out of that ‘teen mindset’ on the minimum wage, and start finding the reality around us. Sure, the minimum wage is probably higher than when most of us were in high school. The problem with that? Everything else is too.