01.23.13

Future Democratic success in Texas

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 12:01 pm by wcnews

There have been a few articles in the past couple of days on the future success of Democrats in Texas.  (See EOW’s previous thoughts on this kind of stuff, here and here.)  Summed up here:

When we are told certain outcomes are inevitable we check that box and think it has already being done. It’s as if we think since were told it is going to happen anyway, it already has, and there’s no need to work for that goal anymore. Just because were told that something is going to happen, it doesn’t mean it is inevitable. The work must still be done to insure that it actually does happen.

The most obvious example of this is the eventuality of a Latino voting Democratic demographic wave in Texas, that will turn Texas blue, or at least purple in the near future. At this time at least it is a myth and it seems to be keeping too many Democrats – at all levels (federal, state, and local) – from making the needed investments, in money and human capital, to insure that the wave actually happens.

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The truth is nothing is going to change unless we make it. Too many of us, too often see Election Day as the end, when it should be seen as the beginning of the democratic process. The day after this election is the day to start organizing for the next one. (More on that soon).

That’s why when seeing articles like this, (Texas Democrats excited about party’s prospects in state and Castro twins predict Texas dominated by Democrats.), it’s near impossible not to think, “here we go again”.  There was one line from these two articles that’s worth noting.

Joaquín Castro agreed, but added that “it’s going to take a lot of work from Democrats to lay the infrastructure for change. We are very busy working on that now.”

Another bright spot for Texas Democrats is the emergence of Wendy Davis. Texas Democrats need candidates like Davis for future success. And here’s a good profile of Sen. Davis, Is Sen. Wendy Davis poised for statewide race? This excerpt shows why.

Davis has criticized newly released draft budgets for the next two years, which include money for public school enrollment but do not restore the $5 billion cut from education in 2011. The hold-the-line spending plans also call for a 6 percent cut in community colleges, Davis said.

“I don’t think that’s an acceptable solution to where we find ourselves in public education funding today,” she said. “Essentially, what it does is institutionalize an unacceptable level of cuts that were made in the last session,” when lawmakers cut more than $15 billion in state services in the aftermath of the national recession.

“Many of my colleagues refer to those cuts last session as the new normal,” she said. “But I don’t believe Texans want that to be our new normal. They want us to support public ed.”

Davis, who favors drawing from the state’s rainy-day fund to help reverse education cuts, says robust funding of public schools and higher education is essential to maintaining an educated workforce and a vibrant state.

“I think most people would agree that in order for Texas to maintain its excellence, we’ve got to invest in the most valuable resource we have — that’s our human capital,” she said.

“I know the economy is important to Gov. Perry. Obviously, he likes to talk about what a great place Texas is and what a wonderful climate we’ve created here for that. But if we don’t have an educated workforce, it won’t be long before we lose our footing there.”

Better-than-expected revenue estimates have prompted calls for spending beyond the level in the proposed House and Senate budgets. But Republican leaders want the state to continue a conservative, no-tax budget approach, which they say has fostered a booming state economy. Much of the debate, Davis said, will focus on “providing the bare-bone basics vs. providing the excellence that Texas has the capacity to provide.”

Davis and other Democrats oppose a GOP-backed voucher system that could give parents state aid to send their children to private schools. She also questions Perry’s overtures toward using the projected additional revenue for some form of tax relief.

Teachers and other education groups rallied behind Davis in last year’s election by making donations and volunteering.

“We’re very happy we have her in the Texas Senate,” said Ed Martin of the Texas State Teachers Association, adding that Davis “made her mark” as a champion of public schools with her stands against the education cuts.

She must be a threat to the GOP because Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst removed her from the Senate Education Committee.

In what might be considered an unlikely partnership, she is working with two Tea Party-backed Republican freshmen who supported her opponent in November.

Davis and Rep. Jonathan Stickland of Hurst have teamed up on companion bills to help military families. And she is Senate sponsor of a bill by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake to increase transparency of state officials’ personal finances.

Late last week, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the Senate’s presiding officer, removed Davis from the Senate Education Committee in what may have been an attempt to diminish her influence in opposing Republican education policies.

Davis spokesman Rick Svatora said that the senator is “obviously disappointed” but that “this action will not silence Sen. Davis or hamper her efforts on behalf of public education.”

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, the Senate’s Democratic leader, said Davis “is going to play a critical role on education, whether she sits on the committee or not.”

She said Davis will also help lead the chamber’s 12 Democrats on other fronts, including healthcare and transportation.

Her supporters have started a petition to get her back on the committee, Wendy Davis supporters want her reinstated to education committee.

For Democrats to prevail in the future, it’s the hard work Castro spoke about that must be going on now, out of the spotlight, that will determine whether candidates like Wendy Davis can win a statewide race in the future.

My thought on whether on what she runs for in 2014 might depend on the luck of the draw. When the Texas Senate eventually draws for 2 and 4 year terms. If she gets only a two-year term, she may run…if not she likely stay in the Senate.

[UPDATE]: Drawing was today and Davis drew a 2 year term. The Texas Observer has the list.

1 Comment »

  1. Optimism abounds at inauguration time – Off the Kuff said,

    January 25, 2013 at 6:12 am

    [...] If they have sufficient infrastructure behind them their eventual tasks will be much easier. Eye on Williamson, BOR, Burka, Trail Blazers, and the DMN have [...]

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