“Jerry Russell, the father of state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, died Thursday, according to a message she posted on Facebook.
Russell was an icon in North Texas theater circles. He was the founder of Stage West, a non-profit theater company in Fort Worth. Russell died after complications stemming from emergency abdominal surgery. He was 77, according to a story about his death published in online editions of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Russell’s illness figured into the emerging drama of the 2014 campaign cycle. Davis had been widely expected to announce early this month whether she was running for governor or for re-election to her state Senate seat. But after Russell was hospitalized she pushed back that timetable so she could care for him.”
Condolences have been coming in from Senator Davis’ colleagues as well. Here are thoughts from Senator Leticia Van De Putte, Senator Kirk Watson and US Congressman Marc Veasey, all via Twitter…
Texas Leftist’s thoughts and prayers are with Senator Davis and her family as well.
If you’re like most Democrats in Texas right now, you’re probably disappointed that the GOP were able to win this round of the battle for Women’s Rights. I don’t intend to make light of that fact… this law will be devastating to hundreds of thousands of Texas Women.
But from a purely political aspect, I also hope that Democrats are a little proud to finally have some battle scars to show for the fight. Sufficient to say, it’s been a long time since the Texas Democratic Party has showed up in full force like they have over the last month.
So here’s the burning question… How do Dems take what happened in June and July of 2013, and run it right through November of 2014? As we know, the only way to truly win the war is to win statewide, and take back the legislature.
Here are my thoughts on how to get it done.
The GOP have become masters of misinformation. They perfect the rhetoric of “conviction” and “moral values” while painting Democrats as scum for trying to be realists. They spend a lot of time and money to craft a compelling narrative, while Democrats try to do this little thing called GOVERNING after the election is over.
But what Democrats need to do is raise some hell… steal the GOP’s thunder a bit. And unlike years past, Texas Democrats have a plethora of issues to bludgeon them with right now.
If I were Wendy Davis, Kirk Watson, Marc Veasey or anyone else trying to run statewide, I’d milk this bus tour stuff for all it’s worth. The next place you go? Schools. Go back and interview school teachers about what they’ve had to endure under Perrystan’s (Abbottstan’s?) budget cuts, and then convince voters that even with SOME restoration, it’s just not enough to keep up with the MASSIVE growth of the state’s educational needs. This is perfect for August or September.
After that? You launch ANOTHER bus tour in later 2013… maybe Flu season? Go across the state to ERs and talk to hospitals overloaded with uninsured patients. Rail against the Texas GOP for turning down the money that could go to help these folks get insurance through MediCaid expansion. Doctors and hospitals are already upset, so it would be pretty easy to get them to express that frustration on camera and for future Democratic ads. I’d call it the “CrisisCaid Bus Tour.”
By the time those two things are done, you’ve managed to keep the base ginned up, registering voters, and have plenty of funding built up between Battleground Texas and the State Party organizations… taking Democrats into the “home stretch”– the actual 2014 campaign season. It’s a play right out of the GOP’s play book, and that’s why I know it would work.
Lastly, Texas Democrats need to spend a little time on YouTube, and look up this guy they used to know… Someone by the name of William Jefferson CLINTON. Nowadays, it just seems that the Democratic Party is ashamed of the South, and really has no idea how to communicate with Southern voters. Even in Texas, we all look up to Ann Richards as our guiding light back to statewide office. So why are we following her in the dark? Listen to her SPEECHES. Notice that neither she nor Bill ever back down from a fight with the GOP, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to be. LISTEN to how she and Clinton talk… how they are able to argue the case not for “big government” but for effective government. It’s a message that has been lost to the Democratic Party, but it’s one that can win in Texas if properly revived.
Yeah ok… As a Democrat and someone who didn’t go to UT-Austin, I have to admit that I would have preferred a different set of colors for the Stand With Texas Women movement. What’s worse is having the Anti-Choice counter attack steal our blue. Not cool.
But the irony of yesterday’s Stand With Texas Women’s Rally in downtown Houston? It may have been orange from the outside, but you could feel some serious energy within to Turn Texas Blue.
The crowd started off reasonably strong… 200 or so people standing by the Discovery Green stage, mostly trying to stay out of the punishing sunlight, signing petitions and rapidly buying their burnt orange shirts. You could tell that the people showing up in Houston had just left work (like me) and were tired from the busy day they had already experienced.
But as soon as the crowd got word that the Stand With Texas Women Tour Bus was pulling up, new life seemed to take over the crowd. They suddenly found a collective Second Wind, and the strength to stand and shout at Discovery Green park. And finally, after another brief delay, the real rallying started. Texas’ newest political rockstar Wendy Davis, accompanied by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and State Senators Sylvia Garcia and Rodney Ellis of Houston, Jose Rodriguez of El Paso, and Kirk Watson of Austin. What felt like a few hundred people dispersed around Discovery Green swelled quickly to 1,000 as we condensed near the stage in a veritable sea of orange.
Cecile Richards kicked things off…
“It’s wasn’t just that Gov. Perry and some of his allies in the Legislature ended the women’s health program and cut more than 130,000 women in Texas off of preventive care, but now the Legislature is considering a bill that would force dozens more health centers in this state to close their doors making it even harder for women to get care and ending access to safe and legal abortion.”
The crowd definitely cheered at times, but also listened intently to each person at the mic. Like the above, it “felt” different… maybe because it wasn’t technically a political rally, but because this was a group of Texans that were putting up a fight. But no one was lost to the fact that this was a Democratic affair. State Senator Garcia, with Wendy Davis standing directly behind her, got the loudest cheer of the night.
“Instead of Texas women always having to fight our Governor, maybe it’s time for a Texas woman to BE our Governor.”
Yeah, that was basically all it took to make that group happy. And that’s when it hit me… Texas’ conversion to a swing state is happening right before our eyes. Even a couple years ago, Democrat and Leftist forces would have never put even a dime into something as intricate as a bus tour in Texas. When the 2011 legislature decimated our education budget (Wendy Davis’ first filibuster), most of the media wrote it off as “par for the course” in Perrystan. But now in two short years… who am I kidding… 4 short weeks… We’re standing here rallying and recruiting activists like we’re just west of Florida’s I-4 corridor. This is the stuff that I remember watching all across the country in 2010 and 2012. Every time Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi said something even halfway controversial, the other side had a bus ready to go. And for the GOP, they barely need an excuse to wait. But in Texas politics? Complete dormancy.
The Bus Tour is evidence that Texas Democrats are beginning to put the puzzle together. If the GOP continues to suppress and oppress, then it’s up to Democrats to not sit silent, but stand up and fight. Keep shining the light on GOP atrocities and tie these events into voter registration. Work hard to wake up the massive group of disengaged people out there. And if that can happen, they’re going to roll right through the orange patch, and turn Texas blue.