Time to Saddle Up for Paul Sadler

Ok Texas Democrats… we’ve got some work to do.

If you haven’t noticed, there is an election for the United States Senate going on, and the GOP candidates are in hot pursuit. Texans can’t go 5 minutes without seeing mud-slinging against Ted Cruz or David Dewhurts on their TV and computer screens. Forget the national election… in Texas, their primary is the battle royale. The good news is, most of those ads will stop after the July 31st Primary Runoff is over.

But the Democratic Primary is also going on. Though it may lack the constant bludgening of the GOP side, a very important race is being held between Paul Sadler and Grady Yarbrough. Here’s my take.

Texas Leftist wouold like to formally endorse Paul Sadler as the Democratic Candidate for US Senate. He is the only candidate with the experience and acumen to be able to represent Texans, having held elected office as a State Senator from 1993-2001. During his time in the State Legislature, Mr. Sadler worked tirelessly to improve the State’s education system, passing 3 teacher pay-raises and public-school employee health insurance. He also has a record of strong bi-partisan leadership having worked with then Governor George W. Bush (Republican) and Lt. Governor Bob Bullock (Democrat) to improve the lives of all Texans. On some of our nation’s most pressing issues, Sadler supports the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and investment in America’s children and infrastructure. He supports the Affordable Care Act as law and thinks that Texas should allow the expansion of medicaid so more Texans can recieve quality care. Mr. Sadler also supports full marriage equality, saying that government issuance of marriage should be separate from the rights of religious organizations. “Interfaith marriages, second marriages,” he said. “Some religions don’t approve of those. We shouldn’t be assigning a religious litmus test.”

By contrast, Grady Yarbrough has no legislative experience. Though his work as a life-long teacher is certainly commendable, he remains something of a “great unknown” to most Texas Democratic organizations. Most importantly, he has not shown any indication or ability to compete with Dewhurst or Cruz on the state-wide level. Of course any man that garners over 100,000 votes in the Primary election deserves honorable mention.

For these reasons, my full support is going to Paul Sadler. So Democrats, it’s time to saddle up, vote in this week’s Primary, and get ready for the general election!

(Photo credit by Jana Birchum of the Austin Chronicle)

Texas Early Voting!! July 31st Primary Runoff Election

The Election day for Texas Primary Runoffs is July 31st, but early voting started today! Why wait?? Early Voting is Monday July 23rd- Friday July 27th

Remember that if you voted in either the Democratic or Republican primaries, you must vote for the same primary. If you didn’t vote in the first one, you can still vote in the runoff.

Here’s information on statewide early voting procedures from votexas.org

Here’s early voting information for some of Texas’ largest counties. Please share and inform!!

Voting times vary by location and county, so check the times for your chosen polling place. During early voting, you can vote at ANY location.

Harris County Early Voting

Fort Bend County Early Voting

Dallas County Early Voting

Tarrant County Early Voting

Bexar County Early Voting

Travis County Early Voting

El Paso County Early Voting

Mitt Romney’s Olympic Record… of Lies

As Chris Hayes recently mentioned on his show Up With Chris Hayes, Mitt Romney seems to have quite the faulty memory about his ability to profit from and exploit tax-payer funds. This ABC news report shows Romney downright boastful of how much federal money he was able to procure for the Salt Lake City games. As much as he would like to state otherwise, Romney receieved more than $1 Billion dollars in federal funds.

“I’m a big believer in getting money (from) where the money is. And the money’s in Washington.”

Yet this is guy running around the country touting his private experience, and saying that he didn’t have to rely on government for help?? Give me a break.

If lying were an Olympic event, Mr. Romney would certainly win the gold. And then ship it to the Caymans for “safe-keeping”.

Operation Think Swing Texas

As Emily Cadik noted in a recent Burnt Orange Report article, Texas doesn’t vote. For the 2010 mid-term elections, the state of Texas had voter turnout of 36.1 percent… dead last in the nation. 2008 was better at 56.1 percent (as is expected for a Presidential election), but that still only ranked at 45th out of 50 in the US.

This isn’t exclusively a “big state” problem. Voter turnout in California is soaring, while New York in 2010 was one of the states lower than Texas. All three states also had Gubernatorial elections at the same time.

This also isn’t exclusively a “red state” problem. Some reliably Conservative states like Mississippi have consistently higher turnout than Texas, though it’s still below the national average.

Voter turnout is a Texas problem. Our voters are disengaged, and misinformed. As long as state campaigns and interest groups practice “uncertainty politics” it will continue to be this way. Besides voter apathy, Texans are plagued by signs that misdirect people to false voting locations, and incorrect times and dates of where to vote. And yes the current legal brawl over voter suppression makes the confusion this year higher than ever.

But just imagine if those voters were more informed and more engaged? Texas would easily be a swing state the like of which the US hasn’t seen. As Nathan Pippenger states in his recent article from The New Republic, Texas isn’t on the radar as a swing state. But Democrats, with all of their challenges can make this happen in 2012. Here’s my plan of how to turn Texas into a swing state.

Go micro.

Texas is huge, but when it comes to elections, it’s not as big as you think. 8 million Texans voted in the 2008 election, representing all 254 of the state’s counties. But as of the 2010 census, over half of all Texans live in just 13 of these counties, concentrated around the major urban areas. 12 of the 13 were “in play” for Democrats in 2008.

Prioritize.

2008 also saw a huge sea change in the state. Some counties went so heavily for Obama that they can now be considered “reliably Democrat-leaning”… El Paso, Travis (Austin), Dallas, Webb, Hidalgo and Cameron… along with other portions of the Rio Grande Valley. Let’s consider these counties as Tier 1 targets for Texas Democrats. Gains made in the 2008 election should be kept and defended. We should be making sure democratic candidates are well-represented in the local media markets, signs and volunteers. It’s critical that these counties remain in the blue category not only for 2012, but to strengthen current networking for future elections.

Tier 2 we’ll consider these “swing” counties. These flipped to vote for Obama by a smaller margin such as Harris (Houston), Jefferson (Beaumont) or Bexar (San Antonio). But you can also consider other counties that held for McCain, but by a rapidly decreasing margin… Hays, Fort Bend, Williamson and Nueces (Corpus Christi). Texas Democrats should work hard to keep Harris county in the blue and try to flip Hays, Williamson or Fort Bend. If one of those were to flip in 2012, it would mark the first time a substantial suburban county went blue. The impact of this could not be understated because it would show that Texas follows the same model as any other swing state… The cities become heavily Democratic, rural areas lean Republican, and the election battle is fought and won in the suburban counties.

So now we’ve taken the vast 254, and narrowed it down to just 12 counties. These also happen to be the state’s most populous areas. If Texas Democrats ever win all 12 of these counties, we are swing state, and possibly a BLUE state.

Turnout, turnout, turnout.

This is the really super hard part, but it can be done. The one thing we also know from 2008… Democrats like to vote early. If voters are well informed of the early and absentee voting practices of each county, they’ll be more likely to vote, and Democrats will have higher turnout. Here’s where the confusion and misinformation part becomes crucial. Certain political forces are hard at work in the state to make sure that lies persist about voting practices. Democrats should be waging all-scale war on these phonies, and getting into neighborhoods to correct and inform. If we push and publicize early voting, it gives people more options and better ability to get to the poles. Keep in mind that early voting is a relatively recent practice… elderly citizens may not understand what it is. They see the one election day, and think that’s the only time they can vote. We have to change this.

Rankings don’t lie. The non-voting population in Texas is staggering…

Fort Bend county… 300,403 registered; 205,931 voted; 94,472 didn’t vote

Travis county… 609,230 registered, 402,832 voted, 206,398 didn’t vote

Dallas county… 1,206,797 registered, 742,980 voted, 463,817 didn’t vote

Harris county… 1,892,656 registered; 1,188,731 voted; 703,925 didn’t vote

Seriously, the main game is moving to these 12 counties. In the 4 largest listed above, we know that 1.4 million people didn’t vote. Obama lost Texas by 940,000 votes. If Democrats focus on registration and information, this problem can be solved, and we can eradicate GOP majorities in these counties. As red as the state may look on paper, the real population and political power centers around the major urban areas. If we can maximize voter turnout in the 12 target counties, Democrats will win the state.

So fellow Leftists… who’s ready to Think SWING?

Mass Shooting: The Cloud Over Aurora

This morning in Aurora, Colorado, there are far more questions than answers. Last night’s shooting at an area movie theater has left at least 12 dead, and over 50 injured. The theater-goers were there for a premiere showing of Batman’s The Dark Night Rises. And they had no idea just how dark that night would become.

The suspected is named James Holmes… a 24 year-old man from the area. The latest reports show that he had a semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and two hand guns. He was able to fire over 70 shots in just over 1 minute. According to Fox News, Holmes did not have a permit for these weapons. This is a whirlwind of damage that was done, presumably by this “lone wolf” killer.

Among all of the questions and analysis that is sure to come over the next months, we should remember an important discussion on guns, and in particular semi-automatic weapons. Even for those that support open carry laws, we can hopefully all agree that there are certain types of guns that just shouldn’t be manufactured, sold, encouraged or licensed. Yet information on how to obtain these weapons is easily available on sites like GunsAndAmmo.com. They go through painstaking detail to help people purchase and sale weapons, along with discussing various topics related to gun ownership. As American citizens, it’s their right to do this, but it’s also the right of others to be concerned about why certain types of weapons are needed. Self-defense is one thing, but does a semi-automatic weapon that fires 50 rounds a minute going to be used to save lives? Or would it be used by those that are trying to take them?

More developments will be posted as this story unfolds.

11:15AM CST– James Holmes was a PhD student at CU medical school, and recently withdrew from the PhD program. He is under police custody. ABC news has confirmed a photo of the suspect

A little more research on Colorado Gun Laws…

8:23pm
The suspect James Holmes purchased and owned all of the firearms legally… that includes the semi-automatic weapons. It is legal in to have and purchase automatic weapons in some parts of Colorado. According to Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, Colorado’s most prominent pro-gun advocate, it’s relatively easy to purchase and possess these weapons in the state of Colorado.

At this point we don’t know how or where Holmes may have procured his weapons, but it appears that they are relatively easy to find in Aurora. According to Google Maps, the town has several gun shops. Apparently, you are not required to hold an open carry license to purchase a gun, but you must submit a background check.

Again, if your need for a gun is self-defense or hunting, why would you ever need to fire 70 rounds a minute? Should these weapons even be available for purchase? A simple handgun can’t cause massive tragedies like the one today.

Will Mitt Romney “Get Worse” on GLBT rights?

Even if Mitt Romney wants to be silent about his time as Governor of Massachusetts, pretty soon he’s going to have to speak out. Mitt Gets Worse… a new coalition initiative between the American Bridge and Courage Campaign Super-PaCs, is taking a very in-depth look at Romney’s record on GLBT equality in the Bay State. So far, it’s not looking very good for those that support full equality. Romney tried to aggressively roll back GLBT rights during his time as Governor.

A Voice for the Rest of Texas