Not showing up

The Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports on a pet peeve of mine, the smug complacency of many within the ranks of Texas Democrats who are so satisfied with an abstract notion of future victory that they ignore the present. Specifically, by ignoring the need to actually run candidates for office.

The opinion article, penned by Bud Kennedy, notes that despite having a denizen of Tarrant County (Wendy Davis) at the top of the Democratic ticket, Democrats have not followed suit to make the country competitive in next year’s election. This, despite the fact that the party and outreach organizations such as Battleground Texas keep talking about how invaluable the county hosting Fort Worth will be in order for Democrats, not only to win, but to also simply make elections competitive. Not a single Democrat has signed up to run for ANY county offices, at least according to Kennedy’s column and the Tarrant County Democratic Party’s website.

While Democrats have broken through and completely taken over Dallas County, El Paso County and Travis County, as well as turned both Bexar County and Harris County into very competitive, swing districts, Tarrant County has hosted a consecutive streak of Republican victories since 1994 (much like the Statewide GOP). With the county’s demographics becoming more and more competitive, optimistic Democrats have pointed to it as an example for future Democratic victory.

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Existent and non-existent Democrats

Texas Democrats are giddy at the prospect of Wendy Davis running for Governor. The astute will remember that I was very excited when she first announced, but with all due respect, that was nearly two weeks ago. Democrats might do worse than ever before –oh yes, mark my words– in the 2014 elections if something does not change quick.

Most importantly, the Democrats need to find candidates to run for the Statewide offices. As I have said before, even a State that is 80% non-White will not elect a single Democrat if they do not run. Buckpassing is perhaps Texas Democrats biggest problem, as everyone is so satiated with this abstract concept of a future victory that they are unwilling to do anything today. The reason why Wendy Davis’ candidacy is so extraordinary is that she put the good of the party and the State above her immediate political future. Rick Noriega did this in 2008, but it is a rare occurrence otherwise.

Democrats do have a serious candidate for Land Commissioner, John Cook, the former Mayor of El Paso. Serious candidates have also been suggested for Lieutenant Governor (State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte) and Attorney General (State Sen. Carlos Uresti) as well. However, the latter two individuals have been painfully silent recently, prompting some concern about the rigor of Democratic candidates.

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Wendy Davis makes it official

At a little after 4:30 local time, Wendy Davis took to a stage in a suburb of Forth Worth –the same stage she received her High School diploma on– and announced her candidacy for Governor.

The speech was full of some good, well-prepared lines, but lacked any good one-liners or sound bites. Essentially what I would expect out of one of President Obama’s speeches, or even Julian Castro. While there will be plenty who will be eager to compare this election to 1990, and Wendy Davis to Ann Richards in the process, I am going to shy away from such a comparison. What made Richards so great is that she was folksy and had was a remarkable orator. What makes Davis great is her inspirational backstory and her ability to put her money where her mouth is. Both are great qualities in candidates, but let us not make the mistake of confounding them.

Wendy Davis will most likely face Greg Abbott, the Attorney General, as the Republican nominee. The election will be entertaining and intriguing to watch. The advantage, by far, is with Abbott though the momentum lies with Davis. Additionally, all bets are off if a Tea Party backed Independent candidate, such as Debra Medina, decides to run as a spoiler.

But this is the worst kept secret in Texas politics since figuring out the Lieutenant Governors of the 20th Century drank too much. Everyone already knew this, so there are more pressing things to discuss currently.

First and foremost, this sets the ball rolling for other Democrats to announce their intentions. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) has long been openly flirting with a campaign for Lieutenant Governor (side note: the Republican LG candidates outdid themselves once again tonight) on the condition that Wendy Davis run for Governor. Well, the condition has been met, so I do not know what Van de Putte’s new timeline is.

One of the other names mentioned is State Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio), who is discussing a run for Attorney General. At Davis’ speech today, Urseti told the Houston Chronicle that he is still thinking about it.

But tonight, all eyes should remain on Davis as she launches her gubernatorial campaign:

Burnt Orange Report, Off the Kuff and Texas Leftist have more.

Uresti for Attorney General?

The Houston Chronicle reports on the growing need to find suitable Democrats to fill the statewide ticket. As the Democratic establishment has largely reached the consensus that Wendy Davis is running for Governor, the conversation has now shifted onto who will be running for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner, Comptroller & Railroad Commission, as well as 3 seats on the Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 seats on the Supreme Court.

The Chronicle article mentions Mike Collier, a local businessman who is running as a Democrat for Comptroller, as the only declared Democrat. However, this is untrue, as fmr El Paso Mayor John Cook was announced a run for Land Commissioner. Since that announcement in July, Cook has even created a website for his candidacy.

The article then notes Keith Hampton, a favorite Judicial candidate of mine who run unsuccessfully last year against Sharon Keller. Hampton appeared to rule out another candidacy himself in the near future.

The article then mentioned some names that keep coming up, specifically Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor, as well as Royce West, Kirk White and Rafael Anchia. The article must not have done their research, but Anchia is definitely running for re-election. From what I understand, White & West have not ruled out the run themselves, though White’s run would be highly unlikely.

The name that surprised everyone, however, was Carlos Uresti. The State Senator from San Antonio who has served since 2007, previously served five terms in the State House. At a young 50 years of age, he probably has some higher ambitions in him.

When asked by the Chronicle about a possible statewide run, Uresti hinted towards Attorney General. Specifically, he said “Politics is about timing. And I certainly think it’s the right time for the Democratic Party, and for myself as well.” To me, that sounds like someone planning on throwing his hat into the ring. Uresti, like Van de Putte, is not up for re-election in 2014. This means that he would not lose out on his Senate seat if he would lose (an almost certain probability).

The ballot is starting to shape up a little more now, with Davis, Van de Putte Uresti & Cook all at the top of the ticket. Each one is a very powerful figure sure to attract more pull than the average Democratic retread.

Brains & Eggs has more.

Soda ban: Texas edition

Michael Bloomberg has a new ally in Texas. Who, you ask? Senator Carlos Uresti. I am being somewhat facetious, of course, but the legislature has just given final approval to a bill that would ban sugary drinks, such as Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper, from public elementary and junior high schools.

HB217 completely flew under the radar. It passed the House on May 10th by an official vote of 95-44. However, a lot of members later complained that their votes were incorrectly attributed. Taking into account all of these errors, the real roll call was 92-49. All of the opposition came from Tea Party Republicans. Among the moderate Republicans voting in favor was Sarah Davis. I have heard for a while now that her close call election has moved her into the centre, and now I am really starting to see it.

At press time, the journal hadn’t gone up, but this article by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram states the roll call at 24-6. I can guess who the half-dozen Senators are, but I am positive as to their political party.

A few months ago, I penned an op-ed about how, by and large, Soda bans like the one in New York are silly, stupid and unneeded. However, I do see some good in this legislation. There is a big difference between a consenting adult and a little kid (14 and younger). This legislation would not apply to High School students.

The bill is not especially contentious, with most beverage associations as well as Coca-Cola itself supporting it. Time will tell if the Governor does too.

 

Senate votes to allow Online Voter Registration

From the San Antonio Express-News. The Senate has voted 21-10 to pass SB 315, which would allow online voting registration.

The bill, proposed by Senator Carlos Urseti (D-San Antonio), would only be applicable to those with Texas Driver’s Licenses, and individuals would register online on a DPS website, and would enter lots of specific, government-issued numbers to prove identity. All of this would take effect on September 1st.

The ten holdouts, you can guess which party they were, were not quoted by any of the news articles as to why they opposed the measure. Among the Republicans that joined all 12 Democrats in support was Joan Huffman. Among those opposed were Dan Patrick and Larry Taylor.

No clue as to what the chances of survival are in the House of Representatives. I have always been big on making it much easier to register to vote, and I know that online registration has been a great success in the states it has been enacted in. Personally, I never found it all that hard to register when renewing your license (I registered on my 18th birthday while renewing my license at the DPS), but I guess people forget about that.

BOR has more.

Voting legislation

Yesterday, the Chron reported that a pair of bills, HB 313 and SB 315, were being discussed in committee. The two bills would allow for individuals to register to vote on the internet. Under the House bill, which was introduced by Mark Strama (D-Austin), individuals would need their Social Security #, DL # and DL Audit #.

The Chronicle article claims that the Senate bill, which was introduced by Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio), was passed out of committee, but I can’t find any independent proof to that effect.

In other news, Gene Wu’s HB 3081 was getting some press as well. The Chron writes about this bill, which recently received a hearing in committee. Wu’s bill would allow people who move less than 30 days before an election to vote in their old precincts.

The Secretary of State’s office also announced support for a similar one of Wu’s bills, HB 2601. That bill would expand the time in which one could cast a “limited ballot” in your new home. Current statutes only allow for this to happen during early voting, but 2601 would expand it to election day.

It looks like all of this was left in committee.