Tag Archives: turn texas blue

Davis Hits Abbott With Controversial New Ad, Addressing “Wheelchair”

Like a lightning bolt, the Wendy Davis campaign released a new ad that struck the state of Texas faster than any tornado, hurricane or haboob.  Here’s what everyone is talking about, along with some immediate coverage from the Huffington Post...

The campaign of state Senator and Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis (D) on Friday rushed to defend a controversial ad attacking her opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), after the ad received near-unanimous condemnation from Republicans and members of the media.

The spot attacks Abbott, who is partially paralyzed, for opposing litigation on behalf of disabled victims even though he in 2002 successfully sued for, and won, a large reward due to the accident that led to his paralysis.

“A tree fell on Greg Abbott,” the ad’s narrator says, over an image of an empty wheelchair. “Abbott argued a woman whose leg was amputated was not disabled because she had an artificial limb. He ruled against a rape victim who sued a corporation for failing to do a background check on a sexual predator. He sided with a hospital that failed to stop a dangerous surgeon who paralyzed patients.”

The ad was met with immediate derision from Republicans, who accused the Davis campaign of exploiting Abbott’s paralysis to resuscitate a floundering campaign in Republican-leaning Texas.

Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, called the spot “ridiculous.”

Reached for comment on Friday, a Davis spokesman brushed off the criticism and explained that Texans had a right to know about Abbott’s past history.

“What this ad shows is that after rightly seeking justice for himself, Greg Abbott turned around and spent his entire career denying that same kind of justice to other victims,” Davis communications director Zac Petkanas told The Huffington Post. “Whether they were victims of brutal rape, whether they were disabled individuals, or whether they were patients who were maimed by a surgeon who was under the influence. These are important questions that Texans have a right to know about.”

Petkanas said he wasn’t concerned the ad would backfire for Davis, instead insisting that it raised “legitimate questions” about the attorney general.

Whatever one’s initial reaction, the ad seems to have already accomplished its primary purpose for the Davis campaign… everyone is talking about it. That fact in itself raises awareness about the election and ups name ID for Davis when the Democratic candidate needs it the most. The more people that talk about it, the more will watch.

Abbott’s response to the TV spot was swift and expected. His campaign immediately condemned Davis for “attacking a guy in a wheelchair”. It’s a reasonable move by the campaign, and at the outset would seem to point to a clear advantage for Abbott.

But that defense can only last for so long before enough people actually see the spot, and join in the questions it raises. If Abbott was able to win a successful lawsuit from his life-altering event, why does he feel that other Texans don’t deserve the same rights to justice that he exercised and received? Given how Abbott himself has often volunteered, even promoted the sensitive information surrounding his accident, is that subject not “fair game” for Davis to discuss, especially when talking about the Attorney General’s clear record of hypocrisy? Soon, Greg Abbott will have to stop taking offense, and start giving substantive answers.

UPDATE: Wendy Davis herself has now defended the new ad via Twitter and Facebook, saying that she has some nothing wrong.

The reactions to the ad are coming back swiftly, but apparently, some news outlets are beginning to change their mind.  On Monday, Davis held a press conference with Disabled supporters that in part discussed similar stories to those in the ad.  Here’s coverage of that via the Chronicle

Davis set up the press conference, which featured more than a dozen disabled supporters, after her latest campaign ad that centered on Abbott’s own disability proved to be incredibly divisive, netting mostly negative reviews even among liberal media outlets.

The ad discusses Abbott and his support for tort reform, which came years after he received what’s believed to be at least a $10 million settlement when a downed tree branch partially paralyzed him. The ads starts, “A tree fell on Greg Abbott…”

Abbott supporters and conservative news organizations jumped on the incident, saying the staffer “dragged” White across the stage. The Washington Free Beacon, a right-leaning news outlet, called the move ”awkward,” linking to a video entitled, “Poor advance work at Wendy Davis presser.” Townhall.com called the move “absolutely shameless.”

“These critics have obviously never met someone with cerebral palsy before,” added White, who can walk and drive a car independently. “Our movements are awkward. It’s part of the condition.”

White also clashed with Abbott supporters and staffers including campaign advisor Dave Carney, criticizing them to apologize for tweeting out an article that called the disabled Wendy Davis supporters members “props.”

Here are some tweets from Lamar White Jr. following the press conference…

Lamar White Jr

Clearly some in the Right-wing blogosphere may regret their hasty reaction to today’s events.

What do you think of the new ad? Is it offensive? Could it be a game-changer for either candidate? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Operation Think Swing Texas: 2014 Update

This is a repost from the original Operation Think Swing Texas, published on July 21st, 2012.

 

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 likes 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 13 counties. These also happen to be the state’s most populous areas. If Texas Democrats ever win all 13 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 people 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.

If we can maximize voter turnout in the 13 target counties, Democrats will win the state.

 

Since this was written over 2 years ago, there has been some very exciting news in the state of Texas… a lot of which has gone completely under the radar of state and national media outlets.  Though thankfully a few, like Richard Parker of the New York Times have finally started to catch on.   Here’s a rundown of the updates, and what you need to be looking out for on November 4th.

1.  Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte and other strong candidates!  When the above was written, I never could have imagined a Democratic ticket as strong as the one running now.  The state has really seen and heard the candidates through televised debates and an incredibly packed campaign schedule.  Republicans have been caught on the defensive for most of this election cycle having to adjust to the consistent message being put out by Democrats.

2.  Geography matters.  Along with the counties mentioned above, Wendy Davis’ candidacy for Governor brings another huge X Factor that could work to the favor of Democrats for now, and in future. Davis is from Tarrant County, which has the unique distinction of being the largest remaining urban county in Texas (some could argue in the United States) that still votes solidly Republican.  Among all the people of Texas, Tarrant County residents are the ones that know Wendy Davis best, and they are the ones that have sent her to office twice.  Having Davis at the top of the ticket moves Tarrant from a “safe Republican” county to one that is in play for Democrats to win this year.  Combine that with evidence that groups like the Tarrant County arm of Battleground Texas has been working like mad in the area, and it’s quite possible to even see Democrats winning the GOP stronghold.  A win in Tarrant County changes everything.  Be sure to watch for this on election night.

Texas Counties To Watch 2014

With the state’s largest urban centers “reliably blue”, and Tarrant County now in play, Texas Democrats have more pathways to victory than any time in the last 20 years.  Can they flip Tarrant and win any of the suburban counties this year??

 

3.  Battleground Texas, the Texas Democratic Party and County Democrats are hard at work.  Amazing as it seems, this very disparate collection of organizations has not only managed to work together, but have done a great job at utilizing each groups skill set for positive results.  Many predicted that Texas Democrats were far too weak to sustain the organizing and engagement efforts you find in states like Florida.  What has resulted is an effort larger than anyone could have predicted even one year ago.  Voter registration has seen a substantial increase in the state’s largest counties, setting the stage for voter participation levels not seen since 2008.  Groups like Mi Familia Vota (a non-partisan organization) have reached out to groups and neighborhoods long ignored in previous election cycles.  All of these things are converging right now in the Lone Star State.

 

To sum up, much of what was discussed in the original post is starting to come true.  If these plans are realized, it will prove a big surprise to most across the country.  But for Texas Leftist, it’ll be more like a Dream no longer Deferred.

 

 

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Texas Debate Week

For political people in Texas, this is a very big week, perhaps the most important week of the 2014 election season.

But for Texas Democrats, this is a week that many haven’t seen for the better part of a decade.  The strongest Democratic ticket in 20 years have in back-to-back contests  with their Republican opponents.

Tonight at 7pm, the Lieutenant Gubernatorial debate will see Democrat Leticia Van de Putte and Republican Dan Patrick face off.   With the apparent contrasts between these two, this is likely to get interesting.  You can watch the debate streamed live via the Texas Tribune, or check out other viewing opportunities for your area.  You can also follow along via social media with the hashtags #LtGovDebate and #VivaLeticia.

Tomorrow night at 8pm is the Second Gubernatorial Debate between Democrat Wendy Davis and her Republican opponent Greg Abbott. Several PBS stations, including KUHT Channel 8 in Houston, KLRU Channel 2 in Austin, KERA Channel 13 in Dallas/ Fort Worth and KCOS Channel 13 in El Paso will be airing this debate live, as well as other streaming outlets available here.  For social media, you can follow along with the hashtags #TexasDebates and #TeamWendy.

Let’s hope that after these events, the full formats of the debate will be available too.  If so they’ll definitely be posted here at texasleftist.com.  But for now, be sure to catch these very important nights for Texas politics!!

TLCQ 2014: Leticia Van de Putte

In the Ninth installment of the 2014 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Leticia Van de Putte, Texas State Senator and candidate for Lieutenant Governor.  She is a Democrat.

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?

LVdP:  Leticia Van de Putte

 

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

LVdP:

1999 – Present     Texas State Senate District 26

1991 – 1999        Texas House of Representatives District 115

 

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

LVdP:  Our state government is responsible for public safety, public education, and building the infrastructure for a strong economy. These are critical services to our communities that can no longer be ignored.

Sadly, we have politicians who are more interested in political score cards than our student’s report cards, numerous school districts have been left without basic resources. Rich and poor alike, fast-growing, suburban, and rural, school districts across Texas have had no other option but to sue the state because our neighborhood schools remain underfunded and our school finance system is broken.

As Lieutenant Governor, I will ensure that government works for the people. That it is meeting the needs of our growing Texas population and fulfilling our responsibility of prioritizing public education.

 

TL:  If elected, name 3 top priorities you hope to accomplish for 2015 legislative session.  Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

LVdP:

Education: Getting kids to and through a quality education – My Texas First plan will adequately fund our local neighborhood schools. Overcrowded classrooms in grades Kindergarten through 4th grade tripled after the education cuts of 2011. 11,000 teacher jobs were gone just like that. Parents should no longer have to wonder if their child’s class will be overcrowded, students should no longer have to wonder whether one test will determine whether they graduate, and teachers should no longer have to pull money from their pockets just so that their students have basic supplies.

And I will make higher education within the reach of every hard-working high school graduate. Not every high school graduate will go to college but every one of them deserves the opportunity to go. That’s why I am proposing we create the Texas Promise Scholarship Program. It would offer all qualifying high school graduates two years of free community college or advanced technical training. Higher education is getting further and further out of reach for everyday Texans – but we can change that. A one time investment of capital that is sitting in state budget coffers today can change the lives of an entire generation of Texans. I want Texas voters to have the final say, so when it passes the legislature next session, it would be put before voters as a constitutional amendment.

Improved quality of life for veterans, service members and their families – As the daughter of a veteran, I know that it takes a family to serve and that to truly honor those who protect us, we must improve the quality of life for military members, veterans, and their families and support our military bases.

My Texas First Plan will ensure that our veterans receive the health care they need and have earned; have access to higher education and training opportunities; and get college credit for their military service. I will continue the work I have done as Chair of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations to fulfill the promise to our military members, veterans and their families that Texas is the number one state for them to return, prosper, raise their families, and retire.

Building roads for the 21st century – I have a plan to invest in good public roads and a sustainable future water supply. These two ingredients that are essential for a prosperous economic future have been neglected for too long. I will lead with courage to move our state towards making smart investments in roads and bridges that keep Texas moving forward. And I will ensure that our families and communities have the water they need to grow. With Texas being one of the most rapidly growing states and having just suffered one of the worst droughts in its history, we can no longer afford for basic needs such as roads and water to be neglected.

 

TL:  A 2013 survey found that 54 percent of Texas voters support Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  Expansion is also supported by the Texas Hospital Association.  Without Medicaid Expansion or an alternate solution, Texas Hospitals are having to provide over $5 billion dollars annually in uncompensated care to patients who lack insurance.  This leaves Texas taxpayers paying not only for the uncompensated care of our residents, but also paying for expanded healthcare benefits in other states. If elected Lieutenant Governor, would you support Medicaid Expansion or an alternate solution for the state of Texas, so we can bring our tax dollars back where they belong?  If not, please explain why.  If so, please explain how you would work to pass such a measure.  

LVdP:  As a practicing pharmacist for over thirty years, I have seen the successes and shortcomings of the healthcare system firsthand. After decades of experience serving my community, I know that access to healthcare is a right that all Texans deserve, not just the ones who can afford it.

I understand that healthcare is a costly and complex system in our state, but also realize that Texas simply cannot thrive when 1 out of every 4 Texans has no health insurance coverage. With the highest rate of uninsured in the country, Texas hospitals struggle to provide over $4 billion per year in uncompensated care, while county and local governments spend roughly $2.5 billion in local tax dollars on indigent care. We need a solution that will better utilize our resources and increase access to effective services, so that millions of hard-working Texans can have the opportunity to care for themselves and their families.

I’m committed to work with all stakeholders to develop a plan that will incorporate personal responsibility without sacrificing care. I will put politics aside and encourage collaboration to expand Medicaid eligibility to up to 138% of the federal poverty line through a customized solution designed to meet the unique needs of our state. I will facilitate negotiations between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the federal government to reach reasonable compromises and obtain approval of a Texas Solution.

I will ensure that Texas maintains the flexibility to make significant reforms to the Medicaid program. A Texas solution could include cost-sharing provisions found in plans already negotiated by other conservative states, such as manageable co-pays and premiums based on income, contributions to health savings accounts, healthy lifestyle incentives, and even using federal funds to buy private insurance.

 

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

LVdP:  I’m a sixth generation Texan, a pharmacist for over 30 years, and a proven effective legislator for over 20 years. I’m a mother and a grandmother, and I’m a Texan first. I bring my experience as a pharmacist and a small business owner to this race and I have a prescription for Texas. From ending high stakes testing for our students to ensuring all qualified high school graduates have the opportunity to continue their education, I have a prescription to build roads and highways so we can continue to support our businesses and create high paying jobs in Texas. My prescription will ensure veterans and their families have access to the resources they need and have earned, and we will secure the border and hold Washington accountable to fix our broken immigration system.

A leader listens first and then works with the brightest minds, regardless of political affiliation, to put Texas first. I am determined to leave a Texas with more opportunity for my grandchildren than was given to my generation. That means fighting for our neighborhood schools, ensuring affordable health care, building a smart economy, and investing in a strong infrastructure.

As Lieutenant Governor, I’ll make sure Texas is a better place to live, learn, and start a business.

 

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

LVdP:  I love to cook for my large family. My husband Pete and I will usually have our kids and grandkids come over on Sunday nights and I make my speciality which they call ‘The Holy Trinity’. It is frijoles (beans), fideo (vermicelli), and picadillo (meat).

 

Thanks to Senator Van de Putte for her participation.

 

(photo credit:  Kathleen Kamphausen) 

Changing Texas’ TEA- Driven Politics

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.

Turning Texas Blue is About Texas, Not Expats

A new piece in the New York Times takes a look at recent migration patterns to Southern states, and suggests that the reason for Virginia and Florida’s quick path to swing status is based more on their migratory patterns than anything else.  Here’s the post from Nate Cohn…

There are four times as many Northeastern expats in Florida as there are in Texas; there are more Northeastern expats in Virginia and North Carolina than in Texas; and there are nearly as many Northeastern expats in Georgia, at 816,729, as there are in Texas, at 929,692.

But in Texas, population growth is propelled by high in-state birthrates, a growing foreign-born population and domestic migration from just about everywhere in the country except the heavily Democratic Northeast, including elsewhere in the South. That makes Texas much more like Alabama or Tennessee than Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, which are the only three Southern states where there’s more migration from the Northeast and West Coast than from elsewhere in Dixie.

The proportion of native-born residents from the South versus the Northeast and California roughly parallels President Obama’s share of the white vote in 2012, which was lowest in states like Mississippi and Louisiana and as high as the mid-30s in Virginia and Florida. Those tallies are good enough for victory in states where nonwhite voters make an above-average contribution to Democratic tallies, as is the case across most of the South.

Democrats were able to become competitive so quickly in states like Virginia and North Carolina because they combined a growing nonwhite share of the electorate with gains among white voters, particularly in postindustrial metropolitan areas full of Northern expats. Without additional gains among white voters, Democrats will be forced to wait a long time for the children of foreign-born residents to carry them to competitiveness in Texas, a state that Mr. Obama lost by 17 points in 2012, and where there isn’t a flood of Democratic-leaning voters from New York to bail them out.

Though the research on state migration is appreciated, Mr. Cohn’s other assertions are wholly incorrect. Texas hasn’t become a blue state or a swing state yet for one reason and one reason only… turnout.   As the Lone Star State’s voter participation increases, the state will become more reflective of the citizens that actually live here.  In the article, Mr. Cohn completely neglects to mention that Texas’ voter turnout, pales in comparison to Florida or Virginia.  In the 2012 elections, only 49.7 percent of Texans showed up to the polls, while 63.5 percent of Floridians and 66.4 percent of Virginians cared to vote.  What should we expect Texas politics to look like if only a minority of the voting age population takes the time to make the state’s major decisions?  To be perfectly honest, we have no way to accurately measure the state’s political views until a majority of the state shows up at the polls.

And if one is waiting around for the Lone Star State to all of a sudden become like New York or Boston, please stop holding your breath.  On the whole, people are more Conservative in Texas… at least the way they understand Conservatism.  Liberal vs. Conservative is not the same as Democrat vs. Republican.  No one should expect for Texas to elect a decidedly Liberal Democrat Governor like Deval Patrick.  But a Conservative Democrat like Wendy Davis is certainly electable here, especially with higher voter turnout and a clear understanding of where she and her opponent stand on the issues.

Finally, above demographics, Texas needs good candidates and a functioning Democratic apparatus to show the state’s true political propensity.  Cohn is writing about a state that hasn’t hosted a General Election debate in nearly a decade.  People in this state are indoctrinated with only one side of the political scale.  However in 2014 with Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, the mold has been broken, and Texas Democrats are back in the saddle.

No one denies that demographic changes will be an important factor in the future of America, and in the state of Texas.  But can we please stop assuming that it’s the only thing that matters in politics?  No disrespect to Mr. Cohn, but before you decide the fate of Texas politics, take a spin in some of our boots first.

Debate Grate: Is Dan Patrick Afraid of Leticia Van de Putte??

In this year’s race for Texas Lieutenant Governor, one candidate is ready to rumble, while the other is scared to even get in the ring.  Do you know which is which?  If not, Here’s the story from the Houston Chronicle

Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte said Thursday that her Republican opponent, Dan Patrick, has yet to respond to a series of debates she has proposed ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

Van de Putte and Patrick spoke separately at the Texas Association of Broadcasters annual convention, in what amounted to a rare opportunity to see the two candidates address the same audience back to back.

A state senator from San Antonio, Van de Putte used the speaking opportunity in front of TV and radio industry folk to reiterate her call for a robust schedule of debates.

She has challenged Patrick to five in all — part of an aggressive plan to pit the candidates head-to-head in the state’s four largest markets and in the Rio Grande Valley — and has left the door open to three more.

But since she laid out the proposal more than a week ago, Van de Putte said Patrick, a senator from Houston who is a tea party favorite, and his team have yet to get back with a solid answer — or any answer, for that matter.

“He’s not responded to our request for debates,” Van de Putte said, adding that she’s not sure if Patrick is dodging the debate issue or just can’t make up his mind. “This is a race where there’s a big difference in candidates … and the people of the state need to hear the candidates.”

Actually, the reason for Dan Patrick’s reluctance seems simple enough… he’s scared.  As the presumed front-runner in the Lieutenant Governor’s race, Patrick knows very well that to share the stage with Leticia Van de Putte puts him at risk to get OWNED by Leticia Van de Putte.  Time after time in public forum, the Democrat has proven herself an incredibly effective communicator for her ideas.  He also knows that giving voters the chance to hear their views side-by-side puts him at risk of sounding like a far-right extremist.  Of course he sounds like an extremist because he IS an extremist, but that is beside the point.

On debates, Patrick is playing from an old playbook.  Texas Governor Rick Perry won re-election without a single debate against then-Democratic challenger Bill White in 2010, choosing instead to demand White’s tax returns in exchange for meeting him mano a mano.  The “no debates” strategy is now a time-tested method for the Texas GOP… keep Texans in the dark about Government by not allowing them to hear opposing viewpoints.

But 2013, and its massive jump in national exposure for Texas Democrats, brought new hope that more Republicans will have to cave in to pressure to face their electoral adversaries.  GOP Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott has already promised to face Wendy Davis in at least two meetings, and Democratic Comptroller candidate Mike Collier seems intent to not give up on a head-to-head with his GOP rival Glenn Hegar.

As Senator Van de Putte made clear last week, Dan Patrick can run but he can’t hide.  Texas has learned from the past, and will demand a campaign for Lieutenant Governor worthy of the great state that eventual office-holder hopes to represent.