Tag Archives: Texas Democrats

Davis Campaign Posts Impressive Numbers

In the constant back and forth of a heated election season, there’s a lot of focus placed on fundraising totals. Particularly in large races, it seems nearly impossible for a campaign to have true credibility without posting huge numbers.

Thankfully for Texas Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, that hurdle has been cleared. The Democrat has shown that she is not only competitive with Republican opponent Greg Abbott, but has actually been able to out-raise him in the latest reporting periods. Of course there are some that dispute the Davis campaign on their numbers, saying Davis was able to claim “in-kind donations” as a part of her funds formula.  As Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News reports, it’s mighty peculiar of the Abbott camp to attack Davis for her $250,000 in-kind donations when his campaign claimed even more than that.  Whether one agrees on the exact number or not, no one can deny that Davis has a competitive standing in the money race.

But Last weekend in front of a capacity Houston crowd, The Ft. Worth Senator reminded everyone that money isn’t the only indicator of a successful campaign.

“As of last Wednesday, we placed our 2 millionth phone call, with over 300,000 of those calls in Harris County alone” Davis proclaimed to the exultant crowd. “Thanks to your hard work, we’ve posted historic numbers in this campaign.”

The candidate was in attendance for the grand opening of her 3rd Houston-area campaign office. It’s becoming clear that enthusiasm among Texas Democrats is higher than it’s been in a very long time.  No one is doubting Davis’ standing as an underdog in this race. But if this impressive Get-Out-The-Vote effort continues, her campaign will end up triumphant at the finish line.

Davis BLASTS Abbott For Shrouding Dangerous Chemical Locales

Texas Attorney General Greg Just “Drive Around” Abbott may have ceded some serious ground to State Senator Wendy Davis in the race for Governor, as the Fort Worth Democrat is hitting back against his seedy decision to keep dangerous chemical stockpiles secret from citizens.  Here’s the scoop from Bill Hanna of the Fort Worth Star Telegram

Kicking off a weeklong trip around Texas on Tuesday, state Sen. Wendy Davis continued to attack her GOP opponent in the governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott, for blocking release of information about where hazardous chemicals are stored.

Davis, D-Fort Worth, is criticizing an attorney general’s opinion that says the Texas Department of State Health Services doesn’t have to release information about reports that show where dangerous chemicals are stored statewide.

The public’s right to know where hazardous chemicals are stored has become an issue since the April 17, 2013, explosion that killed 15 people at the fertlizer plant in West.

“Greg Abbott is obviously doing everything he can to try to undo a mess he has made,” Davis said. “But let’s make no mistake about it: What Greg Abbott has ruled is that families do not deserve to know where these dangerous chemicals are stored.

In a statement released before Davis’ appearance, the Abbott campaign said he was simply applying the law.

“Greg Abbott did not change any law or policy, he applied the Texas Homeland Security Act, which prevents state agencies from releasing information that could be used by terrorists to build bombs or to target certain facilities,” the Abbott campaign said.

Before the ruling, the state health agency released the information regularly. Davis noted that other states, including Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, make the information available.

If she is elected governor, Davis said, she would make the disclosure of dangerous chemicals an emergency legislative item that must be addressed in the first 60 days of the 2015 session.

“The community has a right to know about where these dangerous chemicals are stored,” Davis said. “And for decades, even after the passage of that particular law, Greg Abbott continued to stand for transparency but he has reversed course on that. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the connection between his course reversal.”

Davis was referring to donations of more than $75,000 to Abbot’s campaign from interests connected to Koch Industries.

The Koch brothers, Charles and David, have developed fundraising networks that back Republican candidates and are expected to spend millions to help Republicans reclaim control of the U.S. Senate. Koch Industries has a fertilizer division, Koch Fertilizer LLC.

“Mr. Abbott is not working for you,” Davis said.

Abbott has been under intense criticism as of late, both for the decision, and some unfortunate comments he made when questioned by the media about why Texas don’t deserve to know what dangers are in their neighborhood.  Here’s that piece of the puzzle from the Texas Tribune

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, under fire for blocking public access to state records documenting the location of dangerous chemicals, said Texans still have a right to find out where the substances are stored — as long as they know which companies to ask.

“You know where they are if you drive around,” Abbott told reporters Tuesday. “You can ask every facility whether or not they have chemicals or not. You can ask them if they do, and they can tell you, well, we do have chemicals or we don’t have chemicals, and if they do, they tell which ones they have.”

No one knows for sure why Greg Just “Drive Around” Abbott suddenly became so obsessed with the Texas Homeland Security Act that he had to issue a ridiculously narrow ruling and keep millions of Texans in the dark.  But as Rachel Maddow implied last night on her program, the timing of this decision seems all too convenient to a recent meeting between Abbott and Chase Koch, heir apparent to Koch Industries.

Davis is spot on to attack Abbott for such an atrocious ruling.  With chemical and materials industries being such a huge part of the Texas economy, there’s no telling how many millions of people are potentially at risk of an explosion like the one in the town of West.  Reading directly from Greg Just “Drive Around” Abbott’s website, you’d think he shares the belief that all Texans deserve transparency in their government…

An open government is the bedrock of a free society. For decades, Texas has had some of the strongest open government laws in the nation – laws ensure that Texans can know what their government is doing and how their government makes the decisions that affect their lives.

If Abbott in fact believes it, then he better start practicing what he preaches.  Otherwise, that talking point is going to explode all over his hypocritical face.

But when it does, I’ll be happy to drive around with him and search for answers.

(photo credit:  Burnt Orange Report)

 

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/07/08/5956540/davis-attacks-abbott-for-blocking.html#storylink=cpy

 

Why A HERO Referendum Could Be Good for Houston And Texas

After years of planning, a slew of phone calls, repeated trips to City Hall, organizer trainings, exhaustive blog posts and countless closed-door meetings with Council Members, citizens finally found a voice when the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was passed on May 28th.  The new law instituted an historic new level of protections for all Houstonians, and for many was a cause for celebration.

But today, after being dealt what in their view was an affront to their values, the opposition to HERO struck back, turning in 50,000 petition signatures to City Hall (pending verification by City Secretary Anna Russell).  If at least 17,000 of them are verified as residents of the city, then the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance will be placed on the November ballot, and could even be voted down.  Supporters of HERO will have to work even harder to thwart the litany of lies, and convince voters to keep this critical law on the books.

The referendum is going to be hard work, but it could actually end up being very good, not only for Houston Progressives, but for Progressive causes across Texas.  Here are the reasons why.

For starters, Houston is ready for the referendum.  Long before a non-discrimination bill came before Council, supporting organizations have been preparing for the possibility of a city-wide vote.  The campaign to defend the ordinance is well under way, and has already engaged a broad coalition of organizations and elected officials.  You can learn more about the Equal Rights Committee at the Equal Rights Houston website.

Secondly, as a city-specific referendum, the math is on HERO’s side.  The opposition is asking voters to repeal a law that their elected representatives passed.  In general, that’s tough to do.  But that vote also occurs only in the city of Houston… the same electorate that sent Mayor Parker to office three times in a row.  In every past election, similar argument’s about Parker’s “evil LGBT agenda” have been waged against her, and they have never won.  After seeing Houstonians through a recession, and 4 years of record job growth and prosperity that other cities in the nation only dream of, are Houston voters really going to get enraged enough to vote this down?

As Houstonians like the talented Christopher Busby prove, Equal Rights should NOT be a Democratic or a Republican issue.  Sad though it is, the fight for HERO has become politicized, with most of the opposition’s coalition being Republican (again, not all but most).  Because of this, a referendum will likely serve as a motivator for Democrats to vote in Houston and Harris County.  It could even stand to boost turnout for Democratic candidates.  Again as mentioned in the above, this is specifically the city of Houston, whose electorate has already proven that they vote on the Progressive side.  This assumption could be wrong, but barring some smoking gun to move the issue, it’s not likely.  Giving Houston’s Democrats another big reason to get out the vote is sure to have statewide implications.

Finally, the opposition is built on lies and misconceptions about the law.  The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance isn’t a mystery anymore. It’s a real law, and is available on the city’s website for any and all to read.   Even for the people that are confused, they can go to the link above and actually read the ordinance.  The Mayor said it best in today’s press conference…

“It is illegal today, it will be illegal tomorrow, it will be legal after HERO for a man to go into a woman’s bathroom.”

Like the childhood legend of monsters under the bed, fear dissipates when mom or dad flips the light on.  HERO has been brought to light, and there’s NOTHING scary about it.

There’s still a possibility that the petitions could be invalidated, but for now, it’s time to plan as though the referendum is going on.  HERO needs some heroes again, and I strongly suspect that they are on the way.

 

 

Van de Putte Launches First Campaign Video

If you’re a top ticket candidate for an election, it’s pretty easy to grab the spotlight and make your voice heard on the issues.  For that year, your nomination to run for the state’s highest office gets a lot of focus from the press, and is typically accompanied a healthy dose of funding resources.

But for other party candidates, press access and funding can be much harder to come by.  It takes a skilled political team to run any good election, but especially one where your message is often deferred for coverage at the top.

So far though,  State Senator and Lieutenant Governor candidate Leticia Van de Putte is getting her message out there, in part by getting creative.  Since launching her campaign last year, she has excelled at connecting with Texans via social media, and not only has an active website blog, but very active Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.  Make no mistake… Leticia and her team have been on the leading edge of maximizing new tech for her campaign.

Last weekend, Van de Putte took her fight for Lite Gov. to the next level.  Just before a rousing, fiery speech at last weekend’s Texas Democratic Party Convention, she rolled out the campaign’s first major video, meant as an introduction both for her speech in Dallas, but also to introduce Texas voters to her campaign.  Sufficient to say, it’s not your typical campaign video.  Leticia brings us into her home, and we get to meet her whole family (including a gaggle of grandkids), and join them at an old-fashioned Texas dinner table.  And then there’s this thing with chicken and ‘mama ain’t happy’ and… well, you just have to watch.

This video was a huge success at the Convention, and could very well be a huge success with voters.  The genius here?  It’s not a very political video, but meant to show how much Leticia shares in common with other Texans.  In a few minutes, she’s able to escape the political world, and show all of the hard-working women and moms of Texas that she cares about their issues, and that if elected, they will be the ones with a voice in Austin.  If she can get the word out, this video can advance her candidacy much further.

Watch now, see for yourself, and leave a comment below with your first impressions.

How ‘The People’s Filibuster’ Changed Texas Politics

Everyday on this planet, people experience a defining moment in their life… a marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, starting college, a new job… these events are significant to that individual, and the close family and friends around them.  Then there are even rarer occasions where we experience a defining moment as a collective, like the tragedy of 9-11 or Barack Obama’s election in 2008.  Once the moment happens, things as we know them are different.

That defining moment in recent Texas politics was not an election or a tragedy, but was generated from one state legislator taking a stand.  One year ago, State Senator Wendy Davis stood on the floor of the Senate for 11 hours in an epic filibuster against SB 5… a bill to severely limit access to women’s healthcare.  In a pair of pink Mizuno sneakers, she stood and talked while the world watched the dastardly GOP senators did everything they could to take her down.  That in fact is how Davis’ filibuster ended… claiming that she had failed to stand up properly 2 hours short of running out the clock on Texas’ legislative session.  But rather than give up, Texas’ Democratic Senators unleashed a slew of tactics to keep the delay going.  Finally at the end of the night, with 15 minutes left on the clock, one insult to Senator Leticia Van de Putte unleashed a fire from the gallery… Hundreds of women’s rights supporters cheered, and stomped and clapped until the Legislative Session ran out.  Davis’ original Filibuster was completed by the people of Texas.  To the Republican plans to harm women’s rights, the people said NO.

Like typical Texas Republicans, Governor Perry called a Special Session and they passed their heinous bill anyway.  But even as the GOP won a fierce battle, they simultaneously started a war with Texas voters on both sides, flooded Democratic coffers with new money sources, and elevated Senators Davis and Van de Putte to national stardom.  That’s the main way that Texas politics has changed since June 25th, 2013. Democrats now have real press power.  Gone are the days when a Democratic candidate would be wholly ignored by statewide media, or when someone like Rick Perry could laugh off the notion of a general election debate.  Republicans may still control Texas politics, but the sense of Absolute Monarchy has been “Magna-Carted” off to the ol’ dusty trail.  Now, at the very least in Texas, Democrats MUST be heard.

So the question remains… can Democrats use that bully pulpit effectively?  On this front, the results have so far been mixed.  Certainly not an indictment of Top-Tier candidates, but a clear sign that they’re still much newer to the statewide game than their GOP counterparts.  Much to the dismay of her supporters, Davis has run into trouble about how to immortalize this moment’s history herself, running away from the abortion issue almost as fast as her opponent runs from all the legal cases he files and then forgets about in public.  (By the way… whatever happened to the safe, legal and rare argument that BOTH parties used to support? Seems pretty reasonable to me.)

Ultimately, this new position of strength for Democrats must be utilized for one primary directive… turning out voters.  That is more important than anything the Davis or Van de Putte could yell from the rooftops.  Has Texas changed enough to swing some statewide offices blue?  Check the Senate clock… it’s still tickin’.

 

 

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

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.