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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.

Van de Putte Bests Patrick in Latest Fundraising Haul

It’s been a good month for the Senator from San Antonio, as Alex Ura of the Texas Tribune reports…

Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick, who are facing off in a fiery race for lieutenant governor, have both raised about $1 million since the end of May — with Van de Putte slightly outraising Patrick, according to fundraising numbers released by both campaigns.

Since defeating incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a May 28 runoff, Patrick has raised $1 million. Van de Putte, who ran unopposed, raised about $1.2 million in the same time period. Four months ahead of the general election, the two candidates are working with similar balances in their respective war chests, with Van de Putte reporting $1.1 million cash on hand while Patrick has $946,982 in the bank.

The two campaigns released some fundraising totals ahead of the Texas Ethics Commission’s Tuesday deadline for reports covering fundraising activity and expenditures through June 30. The reports were not immediately available.

The post goes on to say that Dan Patrick is still far ahead in total campaign resources.  The Republican has $7.8 million in funds compared to a $2.3 million total for Leticia Van de Putte.

Good news here is that Van de Putte has again proven her ability to run a successful campaign for Lieutenant Governor.   Pundits no longer have to debate about whether or not she can raise money, because she is.  It’s not necessary for her to actually win the fundraising race, but she does need to have enough money to be competitive.  Texas Democrats should find much encouragement in these numbers.

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

 

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.

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.

 

GOP Continues To Ignore Changing Texas

In last Sunday’s Houston Chronicle, Gary Scharrer’s op-ed provided an epic indictment of the Texas GOP-dominated legislature and it’s priorities. He tells it like it is…

Texas is headed for the ditch, but few people are aware of the state’s perilous path. The demographers have seen the future, though, because it’s foretold in their numbers. And they’ve been sounding the alarm.

There hasn’t been much of a public-policy response, so far.

Texas could be the pacesetter: It has a young and rapidly growing population. Educate that workforce and Texas becomes a vibrant, thriving state for decades. Unfortunately, that young population is overwhelmingly minority and under-educated, and there appears to be little political interest in addressing the needs of that demographic group.

Increasingly, Texas stands to become poorer and less competitive, according to demographers who study the numbers for a living. Neither state leaders nor the media is paying adequate attention. Few Texans are aware of the state’s rapidly changing population. Hispanics will surpass whites as the largest population group some time before 2020.

By the numbers, here’s what’s been taking place: The state lost 184,486 white children between 2000 and 2010 while gaining 931,012 Hispanic children over that decade, according to the U.S. Census. Stated another way, in 2000, Texas white kids outnumbered Hispanic children by 120,382; Flash forward to 2010 and Hispanic children outnumbered white kids by 995,116.

Here’s the most important figure: All of our K-12 enrollment growth over the past decade comes from low-income children – that is, children whose family income qualifies them for free and reduced-cost school lunches. Those low-income students now make up a little more than 60 percent of our public school enrollment.

Many are way behind when they arrive in the first grade. Too many drop out years later. A whopping 47 percent of low-income high school students from the Class of 2015 were off track to graduate, according to testimony in last year’s public school finance trial.

Why does this matter? Murdock, who served as director of the U.S Census Bureau in the administration of President George W. Bush, projects that three out of 10 Texas workers will not have a high school diploma by 2040. Also, in 25 years, the average Texas household income will be some $6,500 less than it was in the year 2000. The figure is not inflation-adjusted, so it will be worse than it sounds. Basically, today’s children, collectively, stand to be worse off than preceding generations.

How can we address the trend line? The first step is to increase access to high-quality pre-K, Murdock says.

And here is where it gets complicated. Republican lawmakers cut $200 million from pre-K resources in 2011 as part of the Texas Legislature’s $5.4 billion reduction in public education funding. Conventional wisdom holds that lawmakers aligned with the tea party will be in greater numbers than ever before when the Legislature convenes next year. You won’t hear that group campaigning for more pre-K funding.

An influential Republican lawmaker told me a few years ago that the leadership doesn’t care about what happens to Texas in 25 years. The next election is more important. Another influential Republican leader bluntly told me that talking about the challenges of low-income students will hurt you in the GOP primary.

[…] It will be interesting to watch candidates for the state’s top political leadership spots this fall. How much attention will they (and the media) focus on what soon could turn into the state’s No. 1 problem?

The growth in minority population has created a “generational rift” along racial and ethnic lines, which is documented in a new book, “Changing Texas: Implications of Addressing or Ignoring the Texas Challenge.” Murdock is the lead author.

[…] “Lower-income populations are less likely to purchase housing units, to create substantial increases in private sector revenues, and to increase state taxes and other revenues at the rate of persons with higher incomes,” the authors point out. “Although closing the socioeconomic gaps for Texas minority populations will be difficult, it is clear that the state is better off if they become better off.”

To sum up, it’s time for Texas to !!!WAKE UP!!!

Ok Spike Lee references aside, this is so important that for everyone in Texas to understand. We have to stop viewing education as a burden and start viewing it as our most precious investment. The banter back and forth about Pre-K isn’t just political wrangling. The money that we choose to invest in these young minds will have a direct correlation on the future of the Lone Star State. Thanks to insidious actions of the legislature, Texas schools are falling behind other states. This is simple fact.

But the one thing Scharrer doesn’t discuss in this op-ed?? People are starting to wake up. Thanks to candidates like Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte and other Texas Democrats, we have opened the conversation again about making the right investments in education. The Davis campaign has continues to hammer Abbott’s Pre-K plan because they know how important this is for Texas families, and for all of us. We can ensure a better future for this state starting in November if we elect the right people to lead us. And at this point, they can’t be found in the GOP. Make no mistake… Democrats are the only party in this state that are willing to address these issues. If you care about having a good education for all Texas children, if you want better investment in our schools and colleges, then you have to get out and vote for it this November. Don’t let the Republicans drive this state into oblivion.

Off the Kuff has more.