Category Archives: Texas Politics

Texoblogosphere: Week of April 2nd

The Texas Progressive Alliance believes that everyone counts and everyone should be counted as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff takes two more looks at precinct data in Harris County from the primary races.

Socratic Gadfly offers some updates on what now clearly appears to be a weird triangle in Marlin between Houston real estate “flippers,” a former VA hospital building, and the General Land Office and P. Bush.

Neil at All People Have Value again made the point that there is authoritarian/Constitutional crisis on the way.

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

Luke Amphlett criticizes the San Antonio ISD handbook on SB4, the so-called “sanctuary cities” law.

Therese Odell sees a chance for the Roseanne reboot to open a national dialogue on important issues, but fears it will take the easy way out.

Durrel Douglas unveils a project aimed at placing more Black people on government/NGO Boards and Commissions.

The Texas Living Waters Project reminds us that urban wildlife and people need healthy creeks and streams, not channelized ditches.

Amy Pearl asks who “walkability” is for.

BeyondBones explores the origins of timekeeping.

Guest Texan Aviva Shen examines the primary ouster of McLennan County DA Abel Reyna.

Oh, SNAP!! Beto O’Rourke Posts Massive Fundraising Haul

For Texas Democrats running statewide, what does winning even look like??

No one in contemporary Texas politics knows the answer.  It’s an experience so elusive that you have to go back more than a generation to even ask someone who held statewide office as a Democrat.  That one living person??  Former Lieutenant Governor William P. Hobby, and he served during the 1980s.

1994 was the last time Texans sent a statewide elected Democrat to Austin, with Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock.  So if anyone else tells you they know beyond a doubt how Democrats can win statewide, they’ve probably been out in to pasture a bit too long.

But if we can take our best guess at what that win might look like, I’m going to bet that the Beto O’Rourke campaign is off to a pretty good start on that path.  Here’s the big news O’Rourke’s campaign released today, via Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, raised over $6.7 million for his U.S. Senate bid in the first quarter of 2018, according to his campaign, a staggering number that poses a new category of threat to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

The haul is easily O’Rourke’s biggest fundraising quarter yet, more than double his next-closest total for a three-month period. It also is more than any Democratic Senate candidate nationwide took in last quarter, O’Rourke’s campaign said.

Cruz has not released his first-quarter fundraising numbers yet, but O’Rourke’s $6.7 million total is on a different level than his previous hauls, which ranged from $1.7 million to $2.4 million. Those alone were good enough to outraise Cruz for three of the last four reporting periods.

Furthermore, the $6.7 million total came from more than 141,000 contributions — another record-busting number for O’Rourke.

The big money totals are important, but just as crucial is the huge number of individual contributions from people across the state, and other areas of the country.  But most of that money, 70 percent per the El Paso Times, came from folks in the Lone Star State, with NO contributions from any PACs (Political Action Committees) or corporations.  In other words, Beto is not for sale.

After a year on the road, the Congressman has already visited 228 counties and held hundreds of Town Halls with Texans, while simultaneously meeting his responsibilities to the Texans he represents in El Paso.  He’s had over 90 town halls with his constituents!

For Ted Cruz, whom officially launched his reelection campaign Monday in Beaumont, let’s just say the time spent with his constituents has been, well, a little less frequent.  Though if you can manage to drudge up some national news media, you might have a chance of getting him to show up.

Which is why the O’Rourke campaign had an interesting present for Beaumont area voters to welcome Cruz yesterday… a specially-designed Snapchat filter for the big event…

It’s good to see the Democratic challenger putting that campaign cash to use.

And make no mistake, the one thing Ted Cruz does well is campaigning.  Just because he lost to Donald Trump in his bid for President doesn’t mean he’s going to roll over without a fight.  The whole strategy behind emphasizing his work to help Texans recover from Hurricane Harvey is incredibly smart, mostly because he knows that O’Rourke, from El Paso, didn’t and couldn’t play a central role in that situation. But as Cruz runs around highlighting the ONE TIME he managed to actually do his job after a natural disaster, smart Texas voters should be able to see through the smoke screen to reveal a Senator who’s overall record in responding to and working for his constituents has been abysmal.

Whatever lies ahead, it looks like Texans are going to see a real competitive campaign for Senate in 2018, fights and all.  And if we do know anything about Texas politics, we know that you can’t be a winner without first being a fighter.

Kudos to Beto for taking some shots.

 

After Perplexing Attack On Sarah Davis, Have Texas Women Had It With Greg Abbott?

There was a time when some Texans had high hopes for Greg Abbott’s tenure as Governor. (emphasis on the term “some”). The mostly jovial and mild-mannered former Attorney General gave the impression that, perhaps, his administration would bring forth an elevated political discourse which puts the needs of real Texans before inter-partisan bickering and personal vendettas.

Of course… we know how that turned out. Behind the friendly smile lies a politician that really takes that “bully” part of the bully pulpit to heart.

For evidence of this, we need look no further than last year, which found the Governor telling lawmakers that he was “keeping a list” of anyone who opposed his initiatives during the Special Session.

But while Abbott has indeed taken several retaliation measures, one particular lawmaker has received an unprecedented wave of attacks. Here’s more on that from Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle

[Sarah] Davis, a West University Place state representative, lawyer and breast cancer survivor elected in 2010, represents House District 134. She sits on the powerful appropriations committee and chairs the committee on general investigating and ethics. Her power and influence only go so far.

But she’s one of the few moderates who hasn’t given up on Texas politics, who is willing to fight the often-futile battle against motivated, moneyed ideologues who have hijacked the Republican Party.

And for that she has drawn the ire of one of the most powerful, moneyed ideologues of them all: Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor, in a rare move, has come after several moderate Republicans who aren’t inclined to carry his water, but he seems to have reserved a special vintage of vengeance for Davis.

He has not only endorsed Davis’ opponent, Susanna Dokupil, whose chief qualification seems to be that she once worked for Abbott at the attorney general’s office. He has hit the campaign trail for the elusive Dokupil,

‪Not only is HD 134 known as a notorious swing district, but it also has some other unique attributes, like being the home of the world-reknowned  Texas Medical Center, Rice University and some of the most prominent biomedical research centers in the United States. For Governor Abbott to prop up an anti-vaxxer candidate in one of the most Doctor and Medical Professional-heavy electoral districts in the country?? Well…it smacks of either total ignorance or a simple lack of concern for the real issues of Texans in this district. Your guess is as good as mine.

Or perhaps, this fight serves as a proxy for Abbott’s fight against Texas Women. Most will recall that Davis’ record on women’s issues is starkly different than her Republican colleagues. Abbott, on the other hand, has distinguished himself as an ‘anti-woman Governor’ with all deliberate speed. Why else would he veto bi-partisan legislation designed to focus on Women’s Health issues?

Here’s more on that from Sophie Novack of the Texas Observer

Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancy in the United States, the highest uninsured rate in the country and an ongoing Zika outbreak that threatens pregnant women. Yet Governor Greg Abbott unilaterally ended a committee that advises the state on women’s health programs.

Abbott on Thursday vetoed a bill with bipartisan support by Senator Borris Miles, D-Houston, that would continue the Women’s Health Advisory Committee past September.

“I am shocked and frustrated by the governor’s veto,” said Representative Donna Howard, D-Austin, who wrote the House companion to Miles’ bill. “At no point during the past six months had the governor’s office expressed any concerns to me over the legislation. This absentee style is disgraceful, and it is now jeopardizing the health and safety of women across the state.”

A very confusing decision, especially after the Governor himself highlighted maternal mortality as a focus of the Special Session. If he cared that much about the issue, what sense does it make to scuttle a panel devoted to research and recommendation?

And in case you’re wondering… a co-sponsor of this bill in the Texas House?  Rep. Sarah Davis.

Whatever the Governor’s motivations, one thing has become clear… Texas women are watching.  Abbott’s curious attempts to oust Davis have drawn major headlines across the state and all over the country.  But while he may believe that his efforts will draw far-right Primary voters to support Dokupil, most that actually live in the district are wondering if the attacks will ultimately serve to actually help Davis.  Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest strong turnout for Davis, including some Democrats that voted in the Republican Primary just to support her.  We’ll find out the final outcome with tonight’s Election results.

But one thing is for sure… this race has exposed a palpable weakness for Governor Abbott.  The misguided decision to meddle in this race could ultimately prove more detrimental to his agenda, and his political future than anyone else.

So back to the opening question… Have Texas Women HAD IT with Greg Abbott??  We’ll find out some opening thoughts on that tonight, with more to come in November.

Texaoblogosphere: Week of February 26th

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges you to get out and vote in the Democratic primary as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff puts the most recent Trump approval numbers for Texas into some context.

SocraticGadfly offers his take on the latest stupidity by former Morning News columnist Rod Dreher.

Stace says let the people vote! This, after DC insider outsiders creep into local races.

Neil at All People Have Value took note of a citizen-improved sign in a Houston neighborhood.

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

Transgriot and Ashton Woods presents their lists of endorsed candidates.

Rice University Magazine honors the “crazy uncle” of the MOB, John “Grungy” Gladu.

Space City Weather explains why there are so many thunderstorms in the spring.

Tim McSweeny and Dan Brooks provide an update on the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony that was hit hard by Harvey.

The TSTA Blog calls out State Senators who underfund public education then deny having done so when it is pointed out.

 

And on this final day of Black History Month, we highlight the unique Afro-Latinx experience, and remember that this bold community is still underrepresented in media and society.

 

(feature photo credit:  The Afro-Latinos documentary trailer by Renzo-Devia/ Creador Pictures)

Texoblogosphere: Week of February 19th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is thankful Adam Rippon is here to distract us from everything else as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff questions the assumption that Republicans have the advantage for November in Harris County.

It is understandable that the tragic events at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School would dominate the current news cycle. As we continue to mourn with them AND stand with them in calls for action, it’s also important to keep up with developments in our community as well. Texas Leftist shares news about the brave students of Houston’s Austin High School, who protested the ICE detention of an undocumented classmate, just months shy of his graduation. Is it truly the priority of our Federal Law Enforcement to persecute high school students who have done nothing wrong?? #FreeDennis

SocraticGadfly has some First Amendment and other questions about the Mueller indictments.

Stace is still sad that the local rodeo doesn’t have any Tejano Music on GoTejano day. But San Antonio is having one awesome music fest in March with the Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair Weekend. Because without Tex-Mex culture, politics is pretty boring.

Neil at All People Have Value said school shootings are an intended result of America’s gun culture rather than an aberration. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Brene Brown speaks truth to bullshit on gun reform. (Not from this week, but it was getting shared a lot this week and is certainly on point, so.)

Jason Pittman and Anita Ledbetter explain how Trump’s tariffs on solar panels will affect Texans.

Juanita passes along a couple of primary recommendations.

Texas expat Elise Hu prepares for the Year of the Dog.

The Lunch Tray highlights a class difference in how parents treat junk food for their kids.

Paul Battaglio, Doug Goodman, and Meghna Sabharwal voice concerns about how nonprofits are handling sexual harassment allegations.

 

Texas Leftist 2018 Endorsements- Democratic Primary

For those interested, here are the Texas Leftist Endorsements for the 2018 Democratic Primary.

Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration).  Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery Countyand Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

Texas Leftist has chosen to endorse candidates because they have demonstrated a commitment to advancing public policies that will improve the lives of Texans.  Though each person’s individual positions vary, they are generally candidates that stand for equality, social justice, comprehensive immigration reform, healthcare expansion, living wage and economic prosperity.

 

Though not endorsed by Texas Leftist, candidates Margarita Ruiz Johnson, Matt Harris, Glenn “Grumpy” Williams, Kevin Nelson, Tahir Javed and Levy Q. Barnes Jr. did participate in this year’s Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire.  Please consult their interviews for more information. 

 

Federal Races

United States Senate                            Beto O’Rourke

United States House TX #2               Silky Malik

United States House TX #7                Ivan Sanchez (TLCQ)

United States House TX #10             Tami Walker (TLCQ)

United States House TX #14              Adrienne Bell

United States House TX #18              Sheila Jackson-Lee

United States House TX #22              Steve Brown

United States House TX  #27             Vanessa Edwards Foster (TLCQ)

United States House TX #29               Sylvia R. Garcia

United States House TX #36               Dayna Steele

 

State Races

Governor                                                                    Andrew White

Lieutenant Governor                                            Mike Collier  (TLCQ)

General Land Office Commissioner             Miguel Suazo

Railroad Commissioner                                       Roman McAllen

Agriculture Commissioner                                Kim Olson

Comptroller                                                                Joi Chevalier

Texas State Senate #5                                Brian E. Cronin (TLCQ)

Texas State Senate #15                             John Whitmire

Texas State Senate #17                              Fran Watson (TLCQ)

Texas State House #28                               Meghan Scoggins

Texas State House #29                               Dylan Forbis

Texas State House #126                            Undrai Fizer

Texas State House #129                            Alexander Jonathan Karjeker

Texas State House #130                             Frederick A. Infortunio (TLCQ)

Texas State House #133                             Sandra G. Moore

Texas State House #134                             Allison Sawyer

Texas State House #138                              Adam Milasincic (TLCQ)

Texas State House #139                              Randy Bates

Texas State House #142                              Harold V. Dutton Jr.

Texas State House #146                               Shawn Nicole Thierry

Texas State House #147                               Garnet Coleman

 

Harris County Races

Harris County District Clerk                            Marilyn Burgess

Harris County Clerk                                              Diane Trautman

County Treasurer                                                   Dylan Osborne

Harris County Commissioner #2                  Adrian Garcia

Harris County Commissioner #4                   Penny Shaw

County School Trustee Position #3             Josh Wallenstein

 

Judicial Races

Texas Supreme Court, Place 2              Steven Kirkland

14th Court of Appeals, Place 3            Jerry Zimmerer

14th Court of Appeals, Place 8            Michele Chimene

55th Civil District Court                          Latosha Lewis Payne

113th Civil District Court                        Rabeea Collier

185th Civil District Court                       Jason Luong

188th Civil District Court                        Scott Dollinger

234th Civil District Court                        Lauren Reeder

269th Civil District Court                          Cory Sepolio

281st Civil District Court                           George Arnold

246th Family District Court                      Angela Graves- Harrington

289th Family District Court                      Barbara J. Stadler

309th Family District Court                      Kathy Vossler

Harris County Probate Court #2                         Jim L. Peacock

Harris County Probate Court #4                        James S. Horwitz (TLCQ)

Harris County Criminal Court #2                        Harold J. Landreneau

Harris County Criminal Court #5                        David M. Fleischer

Harris County Criminal Court #7                          Andrew A. Wright

Harris County Criminal Court #11                         Gus Saper

Harris County Criminal Court #12                        Juan A. Aguirre

Harris County Criminal Court #13                         Raul Rodriguez

Harris County Criminal Court #15                        Kris Ougrah

 

In addition to the TLCQ 2018 series, the following resources were also consulted for the 2018 Texas Leftist endorsements: Off The Kuff, Dos CentavosHouston GLBT CaucusProject Vote SmartThe Texas TribuneThe Houston Chronicle Endorsements, The Dallas Morning NewsThe League of Women Voters Guide and Ballotpedia.

 

(if you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation!  Help us encourage Progressive, common sense ideals in the Lone Star State!!)

 

TLCQ 2018: Vanessa Edwards Foster

In the Thirteenth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Vanessa Edwards Foster,  candidate for U.S. House, Texas’ 27th District.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

VF:  Vanessa Edwards Foster

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

VF:  Unless you count being elected as a precinct chair, NO.  I’ve never been employed in the public sector.

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

VF:  Government is, essentially, the public trust.  Its goal is to provide for the common good by creating, in deliberative fashion, rules and structure that will successfully maintain the security, the commerce and the well-being for every one of its citizens.  It should also be vigilant to ensure that these rules are neither exploited by those in elected office acting as agents for outside interests for profit, power or both, nor that these rules are bent or changed to punitively impact one segment of society at the behest of another in order to uphold the well-being of society overall.  We must also be vigilant to the potential of forces abroad attempting to externally manipulate and undermine our system of government and act to cease those efforts any time we discover them.  Government was created, and should remain, by and for all citizens of this nation.

TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

VF:  Funding and pushing for groundbreaking on infrastructure needs throughout this nation — we’re desperately too far behind on this issue.  Ensuring protection of social security, Medicare, Medicaid and moving to seek Medicare for all in order to stop the healthcare calamity which is nearly bankrupting us.  Finding a solution to address the wage gap and the wealth gap in America.

TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

VF:  Obviously funding.  Beyond that, we need a transportation department with vision to set aside current open space via planned future eminent domain and begin negotiating with landowners way before the project in those areas to find an equitable agreement to have said tracts set aside with that future growth in mind.  Additionally, smart-growth options such as rail or subway options and right-of-way development for bicycle trails is strongly needed.  Preparing for the eventuality of autonomous (or self-driving) vehicles as well as vastly increasing development of charging stations (and the necessary electrical grid to power those) for hybrid vehicles is also a necessary goal to keep pace with the advancing technologies.

TL:  Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis.  According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.  Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens.  As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?  

VF:  This is a difficult problem to tackle.  There’s a number of factors at play here: population decrease in small-town America, funding to keep these hospitals in business and enticements to reopen or entice new ownership to move in and continue the facility.  While it’s crucial to have healthcare facilities within a reasonable drive of county residents, the small populations in sparse areas, coupled with population decline in many of these communities makes it unlikely that some of these closures can be reversed or prevented.  The benchmark for hospital feasibility is that the region have a population of around 40,000.  Another factor that contributes to this is Obamacare — in particular the states that refused to expand Medicaid to cover for it (Texas being one), leaving many residents still uninsured.  As such, hospitals in those non-expanded states bled red ink until they could no longer keep their doors open.  Enticing new hospital owners to come in and fill that gap will be key, but won’t be an easy fix as Trump’s Tax Cut just sliced over $1 trillion in Medicaid from the budgets over the next decade.  This might be solved by expanding Medicare to cover all citizens, but that will take time.  My suggestion would perhaps involve an incentive for non-profit university hospital systems (e.g. UTMB, Baylor College of Medicine, etc.) to move in and take over as satellite teaching facilities for their student and interns.  Beyond that, I honestly don’t have a solid answer to this problem.

TL:  In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act.  This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.

VF:  Net neutrality should NOT be overturned.  The internet was originally created by the government and funded by taxpayers, and has since remained part of the public domain.  Giving away the internet to profiteering corporations is absolutely wrong.  It’s especially alarming that this will essentially kill internet for many in isolated rural areas of the country where only small, local providers prevail — small providers who will easily be locked out of the market by the huge corporations.

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

VF:  My campaign is quite similar to Bernie Sanders in that I do everything with people power and will only accept campaign contributions from individuals, and I’ve been told I may need to reconsider at least one PAC (Act Blue Veterans).  However, I will not accept contributions from corporations, from special interests or from most all PAC’s.  Represent the people — not special interests.

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

VF:  Listening to my albums (I have an extensive collection of LP’s), or occasionally noodling around on my guitar.

 

Thanks to Ms. Foster for the responses.

 

Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration).  Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery County, and Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

(if you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation!  Help us encourage Progressive, common sense ideals in the Lone Star State!!)