Texas Leftist kicked off the 84th Legislative Session with a new blog series. Big Government Texas is a catalogue of the endless hypocrisy waged from Texas’ TEApublican CONservative leaders. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the series.
As we say goodbye to 2014, it is right to take a moment for reflection. So Texas Leftist wants to answer the ephemeral question…
For the year that was 2014, who had the greatest impact on Texas Politics??
There are of course lots of contenders. Attorney General Greg Abbott handily defeated rival Wendy Davis, and is set to become the state’s second Governor elected in the 21st Century. The reign of Rick Perry will officially come to an end as we ring in the new year. Democrat Davis ran a good campaign and certainly performed well in two debates with her Republican opponent. But in the end, her message was not enough to combat an historically-low voter turnout, and Abbott, along with most other Republican Party contenders, claimed victory once again.
Even with this reality, there were still some bright spots for Texas Democrats, and for Progressivism. The citizens of Denton exercised their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by banning fracking in their municipality, much to the dismay of Big Government Republicans in Austin who have immediately moved to sue the town for working to improve the community.
San Antonian Nico LaHood ousted the Republican Imcumbent to become the next District Attorney of Bexar County. Running on a platform of Bi-Partisanship and reformation of drug convictions, he also rises to the front ranks of the Texas Democratic Party.
But it is another San Antonian that claims the title of of this post… State Senator Leticia Van de Putte. Though her bid to be the state’s Lieutenant Governor proved unsuccessful, Van de Putte certainly gained attention through a disciplined, common-sense campaign that stayed focused on the issues of Texas, and not partisan gridlock. She never compromised or apologized for her principles, whether they be standing up for LGBT equality in her only statewide debate, or pledging to fight for free tuition to Texas Community Colleges on the stump.
The year’s loss was definitive… Dan Patrick will be the next Lieutenant Governor. But rather than play it safe with her Senate seat, Van de Putte found the courage to risk it all once again, resign her Senate seat and run for Mayor of her hometown. It’s a fighting spirit that has been absent from Texas Democrats for almost two decades.
For awakening the fighting spirit with dignity, courage, wisdom and grace, Leticia Van de Putte had the greatest impact of 2014.
The lead-up to Election Night always gets somewhat ridiculous. The media takes sides in a desperate attempt to claim that they’re the next oracle of political predictions. This is typical and expected.
Take Paul Burka, acclaimed political journalist and writer for Texas Monthly, who in a short 2 paragraph article, cemented his views on the Lone Star State’s newest political firestorm, Battleground Texas.
Battleground Texas, the organization chosen by the Obama White House to “turn Texas blue,” proved to have been nothing more than a mirage. In fact, Battleground did more to sabotage the Democratic effort — unintentionally — than to support it, thanks to Jeremy Bird, Battleground’s leader. Bird produced a memo claiming major gains by Democrats, which he published. Unfortunately for Bird, his numbers were erroneous, allowing Republicans to enjoy a big laugh at Battleground’s expense.
I’m not surprised, because the major activity of Battleground was to issue press releases taking credit for X direct contacts with voters and Y phone calls. In the end, Battleground has little to show for its efforts. Democratic sources now acknowledge that Battleground provided nothing useful to the Davis campaign. The result is that the state Democratic party suffered another blow to its credibility.
At least the one fact that Mr. Burka presents cannot be disputed… Jeremy Bird, the founder of Battleground Texas, did indeed release a somewhat epic fail suggesting that Early Vote turnout has skyrocketed. In reality, Early Voting is actually down… 15,858 fewer votes cast in the state’s 15 largest counties from the high water mark of 2010.
Of course 2014 was always meant to be a big gamble for the brand new organization. It’s hard to judge any business or group on just their first year of operations. But still the fact remains that after registering over half a million new voters, it hasn’t seemed to move the needle on early vote, right??
Not so fast… a little history here. Texas Leftist compiled a chart which shows Early Voting in Gubernatorial election years from 1998 to 2014 just so we can compare…
(Data compiled from the Texas Secretary of State website)
As you can see, 2010 was a really high watermark. From2006 to 2010, Early Voting nearly doubled in the state of Texas. Why? Because 2010 was an exceptional, find-every-TEApublican-on-earth-and-get-them-to-vote-because-it’s-the-end-of-the-world-OBAMACARE DEATH PANELS year. Republican turnout exploded off the charts, and that is what drove up overall turnout.
Which naturally leads us to ask another question: Absent all of the craziness of 2010, what is motivating those same GOP voters to come to the polls this year?? We could say Dan Patrick, with his Rush Limbaugh style politics and constant readiness to whip up the base, but that would be inaccurate. As Leticia Van de Putte has pointed out on several occasions, Patrick is basically in hiding from voters. It’s sure not Greg Abbott, whom waited very late in the game to do any true attacks on Davis. Even now, the worst he’s put out is a poor comparison to Barack Obama, and a charge that Davis is… wait for it… unethical. Most voters assume as much about every politician, so that’s not going to stop her voters from showing up.
So without being scared into oblivion, are not Republican base voters just as enthused about pushing Abbott over the finish line as Democrats are for Wendy Davis, so that he can basically continue the policy agenda of Governor Rick Perry?
Is it at all possible that the miracle achieved by Democrats and BGTX was to simply hold the line at even close to 2010 levels? And if they’re fanning the flames of enthusiasm, is it possible that the people showing up to the polls are a very different electorate than 2010?
If you follow the trend line of expected Early Voting turnout, and exempt 2010, Texas should be at roughly 1.15 million early voters, 1.3 million at absolute best. Something is causing turnout to “stay” at those historically high levels.
There’s just no way to be sure until we get answers tomorrow. But unlike Paul Burka, Texas Leftist isn’t ready to throw in the towel. With 32,000 volunteers working day and night in every corner of the state, it’s quite possible that Democrats will have some good news in one day’s time.
The only thing left to do is go and vote. Don’t throw dirt on their grave just yet.
For years now, the Dallas Morning News has been a trusted source for news coverage analysis across the state of Texas. The work of their staff reporters is often praised for sound knowledge and journalistic integrity.
The editorial board on the other hand? Well, let’s just say they seem to be suffering from a momentary lapse in judgement. Much to this reader’s surprise, the Dallas Morning News has endorsed Greg Abbott for Governor of Texas.
Or wait a minute, let me be perfectly clear… The Dallas Morning News has endorsed their hope of a “new” Greg Abbott, because the guy they talk about in this piece doesn’t actually exist. And instead of actually comparing the real records of either candidate, they appear to have sided with Abbott because they are afraid of what a Davis win would do to the state’s political climate…
Texas Republicans’ hard-right swing in recent years is troubling. Too many Texans feel alienated by a ruling party that seems indifferent, for example, to the plight of the working poor, the uninsured or youths caught through no fault of their own in immigration limbo.
As governor, Abbott must be a moderating influence and guide a realignment of his party. He has outlined plans that could advance that effort. Where Davis would be likely to encounter ideological battles at every turn, Abbott has the best chance to inspire legislative progress.
Davis has fought valiantly. But for all her progressive promise, and alignment with this newspaper on many issues, Texas cannot afford to provoke the kind of partisan stalemate her victory would probably bring, much like the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington. As much as Texas needs to counterbalance its GOP hard-liners, we fear Davis would only invigorate them.
Interesting argument against Davis there, but they’ve forgotten to mention one thing. Greg Abbott is FAR from the center of his party on any ideological scale. While he may have a warm demeanor, envious hairline and camera-friendly smile, he hasn’t shown any indication that he would do the things DMN hopes for. Given that this endorsement shows that the editorial board is in serious need of some education, who better to accomplish that than Texpatriate blogger and actual University of Texas student Noah M. Horwitz. Here is an excerpt from his opinion article in The Daily Texan…
Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, has demonstrated time and again that he is not ready for primetime. He has failed at his current job, prioritizing political grandstanding over the real work necessary to be an effective steward of the state. He maintains illogical and extreme political positions on a plethora of issues, namely those of special importance to students. Most importantly, despite feel-good ads and insincere debate performances, Abbott truly shows no signs of moving back toward the middle if elected. Make no mistake: An Abbott administration would be a dream come true for right-wingers. For all these reasons, I simply cannot recommend a vote for the Republican in good faith.
For the past 12 years, Abbott has served as attorney general of Texas. Historically a low-key post, it has been best known in recent years as serving as the main vehicle for going after deadbeat parents delinquent on their child support, as well as representing the state in lawsuits. These suits historically have been unifying exercises where the attorney general seeks justice on behalf of Texans. A major example was when a former officeholder, Dan Morales, secured more than $17 billion in a settlement against big tobacco companies. But ever since the creation of the tea party five years ago, Abbott has appeared content with using the office as his personal soapbox. Filing frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit, Abbott brags about his wasteful litigiousness in office, saying his typical day consists of waking up, suing the president and going home.
Unfortunately, Abbott shows no signs of reforming this lacking governing strategy if elected. Stump speeches, TV ads and debate performances show Abbott’s almost pathological obsession with harping on the perceived failures of President Barack Obama rather than focusing on why people should elect Abbott and not his opponent.
On the issues, Abbott does no better. He opposes a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy,even in cases of rape and incest. He continues to harmfully defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions, even after it has been ruled unconstitutional. Recently, he even made the absurd claim that banning same-sex marriage could reduce the number of children born out of wedlock. Such outdated political positions fly in the face of shifting public opinion and should not be supported.
(Check out the full article here, and be sure to also visit Horwitz’s work at Texpatriate)
Nor can the DMN editorial board be bothered, apparently, to read their own paper. Had they scrolled back through a few recent articles from their staff, they could a learn lot about Greg Abbott’s actual record of governance. Maybe they would have caught the piece where James Drew exposed Abbott’s merciless crusade in search of non-existent voter fraud, which resulted in an armed police raid of innocent Houstonians… guns, bullet-proof vests, unlawful destruction of property and all… only to drop the charges after decimating the organization’s ability to operate. Using the police to bully and scare innocent citizens?? I guess that’s inspiring legislative progress, if you’re a mob boss.
And then there are all of the positions where we simply don’t know how far Greg “Boss” Abbott is willing to go. When he says he is Pro-Life, does that mean that he would try to ban all forms of contraception? Given his incredibly vague statements on the matter, that is a very open question. Do Texans really want to elect a Governor that wants to ban all forms of birth control, and severely limit women’s healthcare??
But thankfully in this election, there is a real choice. Texans don’t need an insider mob boss leading our state… we need a fighter. And that fighter is Wendy Davis. Though she may be best known for her 2013 filibuster to protect women’s healthcare, she also filibustered the horrendous 2011 budget cuts to state educational institutions. At that time, Wendy said real teachers would lose their jobs, real classrooms would be over-burdened and real students would lose valuable time, resources and programs… all of this was proven to be true.
Wendy is also fighting for Texas families across the state with no access to healthcare because state leaders, including Boss Abbott, have refused any form federal healthcare expansion funds. As a result, Texas is losing out on $136 billion dollars that would not only give millions of Texans access to vital healthcare options and help lower the current cost burdens on our hospitals, but fuel. By sending our federal tax dollars to Washington and refusing to act, we’re funding better healthcare for other states. Davis knows that there is a bi-partisan coalition forming in the state that supports doing what is best for all Texans. As Governor, this is something that she can achieve.
I’m sure that the Dallas Morning News editorial board means well with this endorsement. But instead of looking at the Greg Abbott that they hope to create, they need to see Greg Abbott for who he really is. And then they, like you, need to vote for Wendy Davis. Make no mistake Texas… it’s all on the line for 2014.
Articles like this one today are an important reminder that sometimes just your vote is not enough. On this Blog Action Day, Texas Leftist is proud to endorse Senator Wendy Davis for Governor of Texas. If you needed any more convincing, just take another look at the information above.
Wendy really can win this election, but she needs your help to get it done. Give to the campaign and help elect Wendy Davis as the next Governor of Texas. Now is the time when your donation dollars and volunteer hours make the most difference for 2014. Please share this post on social media and help spread the word with the hashtag #GiveToWendy. To make a donation, click the image below.
In government, there is an inextricable, but also uncomfortable link between politics and policy. Politics is something of a theatrical endeavor… a compelling story, a charismatic candidate, the right thing (or the wrong thing) said at the right moment that motivates voters in one direction or another. It’s an art form that in many ways seems a natural fit for the most brilliant of performers.
Policy, in so many ways, is the polar opposite… taking the most difficult problems of a community, and trying to make them better. Policy is best structured when people of differing opinions come together, debate each other’s views and forge a compromise that works for everyone.
Recent years in Texas have seen a whole lot of bad politics, and very little policy. Thanks to regressive TEA party influences, Republicans in the legislature have wasted lots of time and money making harmful cuts to the state budget, while creating massive problems for families across the state. For evidence of this, look no further than the devastation waged during the 2011 legislature.
Thankfully 2014 has seen the re-emergence of diverse ideas, and a robust policy conversation in Texas. Even before November votes are cast, the influence of Texas Democrats has done a great deal to counter policies driven by the TEA party. Take the latest ad released by Republican Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, which promotes his plan to improve state infrastructure. This is the most recent proposal from the Republican candidate which proposes an increase in investment for public projects… a far cry from the “cut any and everything!” mantra of 2010.
It’s no surprise that Greg Abbott is suddenly taking such a dramatic shift from the cut-and-kill ideas of the past. He’s being forced to do so because of his Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, who has been discussing infrastructure investment for months now on the campaign trail. Sure, the Republican candidate may have been the first to run an ad on the subject, but he’s doing so after Democrats started the discussion. In response to Davis, Abbott has also pledged to invest more money in education and healthcare.
This is the power of having opposing arguments in an election… It forces the other side to respond and moderate, which makes better policy for all. If Texas Democrats achieve nothing else in 2014, they can take Abbott’s actions as proof that Republicans can’t just ignore their policy views any longer, and the TEA party’s strangle hold on the state has been greatly diminished.
On infrastructure, Greg Abbott won the Politics… he was the first to bring the issue to the forefront with a big, glossy ad. But the substance within that ad, investing “billions in new road construction”? We can thank Democrats for advancing the Policy debate. Let’s hope voters know the best choice on November 4th.
Texpatriate has a different view on Greg Abbott’s infrastructure plan.
Over the weekend Texans received something of a campaign season bombshell that has now turned into a national story. In advance of her book’s release date, Wendy Davis revealed that she, like many other Texas women, has had to terminate two of her pregnancies due to severe fetal abnormalities. Here are more details from the El Paso Times, via AP…
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who became a national political sensation by filibustering her state’s tough new restrictions on abortion, discloses in her upcoming memoir that she had an abortion in the 1990s after discovering that the fetus had a severe brain abnormality.
In “Forgetting to be Afraid,” Davis also writes about ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus. Davis says she considered revealing the terminated pregnancies during her nearly 13-hour speech on the floor of the Texas Senate last summer — but decided against it, saying “such an unexpected and dramatically personal confession would overshadow the events of the day.”
The Associated Press purchased an early copy of the book, which goes on sale Tuesday.
Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls. Davis catapulted to national Democratic stardom after her filibuster temporarily delayed passed of sweeping new abortion restrictions. She’s now running for governor against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is heavily favored to replace Republican Gov. Rick Perry next year.
After the news broke, Davis sat down with Robin Roberts for an interview on Good Morning America, where she was pressed about the interesting timing of her book release less than 60 days before the 2014 election.
The timing factor is interesting for sure, but interesting is not the same as illegal or unethical. Politicians write and sell books all the time. Politicians also do all sorts of other types of work while campaigning… you know, like not stepping down from being Attorney General and not excusing yourself from cases that could have a direct effect on your upcoming election.
For the Abbott campaign, Davis’ book presents a perilous quandary of how to respond. So they chose to go the path of ethics. Here’s more from the Houston Chronicle on that…
Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott asked the Texas Ethics Commission on Monday to rule whether opponent Wendy Davis’ book deal and tour crosses the line on illegal corporate campaign contribution because it is tied to her ongoing campaign.
Davis’ campaign immediately labeled the filing a “frivolous stunt.”
In a three-page letter requesting an advisory opinion, Abbott campaign manager Wayne Hamilton asked whether a book tour paid for and promoted by a corporation constitute in-kind political contributions. Under state law, corporate contributions to a campaign are illegal.
While the request for an ethics opinion makes no mention of Davis, the name of her publisher and details of her book deal are the same as those in the letter.
“Because of the proximity of the book’s publishing and the election, the candidate will be using political funds on voter contact at the same time the publisher is using corporate funds to promote the book,” reads the letter, insisting that political observers “seem to agree that the promotion of the book essentially equals promotion of the candidate’s candidacy.”
Davis’ campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas said the campaign was “very careful to follow every legal guideline.
“This frivolous stunt by the Abbott campaign is the clearest sign yet how worried they are about the power of Wendy’s story,” he said.
Were Greg Abbott running a more ethical campaign himself, this line of attack may garner more teeth. But unless he’s planning to resign from office early, relax Voter ID laws reveal the locations of dangerous chemical locations, the request to the Texas Ethics Commission is little more than a small stone within Abbott’s magnanimous glass house. Plus, what can the Republican really yield from trying to stop the tour anyway? At best, attacking Davis for the timing of her book can motivate a few more people in his base… ones that really care about the “inside baseball” of politics and were solid GOP supporters anyway. At worst, the attack makes Abbott look like a hypocrite.
On the other hand, Davis has nothing to lose from releasing her book now. Scoring an interview on GMA rockets her name ID back to the forefront of the news at a time when she most needs it, and motivates the Pro-Choice base of both parties to really show up and show out this November. Yes… in the real world, there are still Pro-Choice Republicans in Texas, the very people who Wendy Davis is counting on to win in 2014.
One more calculus that may have been made by the Davis campaign here. Even more important than what and who everyone is talking about, guess who they are not talking about? The correct answer is Greg Abbott. In a critical time for the Republican to be connecting with voters over his personal story of tragedy followed by triumph, Davis has managed to stop Abbott’s momentum dead in its tracks. As the old saying goes, ‘All politics is local’. But Wendy Davis is proving right now that the best politics is personal.
The race for Texas Governor is about to enter the fast and furious season, with Democratic candidate Wendy Davis leading the charge. In a new TV ad, she goes after Greg Abbott for deciding against the victim in a rape case. Released just last Friday, the ad has already drawn major attention. Here’s more from the Dallas Morning News..
Wendy Davis on Tuesday defended her television campaign ad that decries a 1998 Texas Supreme Court decision when-then Greg Abbott sided against a rape victim in a liability case.
“His record demonstrates that he sided with a corporation against a victim of sexual assault,” Davis said during a news conference outside Dallas City Hall. “Texans deserve to know who is asking for the privilege of serving as their next governor.”
In 1993, a Seguin woman was raped by an independent vacuum salesman from Kirby Co., while her children were asleep in the next room. The victim sued Kirby for damages and won. And the Supreme Court eventually determined that she had that right. Abbott wrote a separate dissent, saying that an independent contractor hired the salesman and the Kirby had no duty to the victim under the circumstances of the case.
Abbott’s campaign has described the ad as “gutter politics.”
An interesting counter by the Abbott campaign, especially given his record of hanging out with child predator Ted Nugent and ardent anti-women actions as Attorney General. Given the way he ruled in this case, is it any surprise that Abbott also showed such strong support for HB2 which closed down dozens of women’s health centers across the state?
In its short airtime, the ad has been getting some real traction, some of the best coverage Davis has received yet within the state, especially from local news stations and newspapers. People are talking about Greg Abbott, and in this case, they don’t have many good things to say.
After receiving criticism even from supporters saying the campaign isn’t generating enough attention, Wendy Davis deserves kudos for launching an effective ad, and for leading the conversation on this issue. It’s also a reminder of how Davis got here in the first place, coming from Republican Senate district, beating a GOP incumbent in 2008, and then winning reelection in 2012. And all of that occurred long before ‘the people’s filibuster’. If she continues to lead the news cycle, and keeps up the historic campaign apparatus, she will win.