Today is the last day to register to vote for November 6th Election

Posted in Election 2012, Elections at 10:24 am by wcnews

All the information can be found at VoteTexas.gov.

The easiest way is to click here, fill out the voter registration application, print it out and have it postmarked by today.

Also click here to see if you are already registered to vote in Texas.


Education becoming big issue in US Senate race as debates near

Posted in Around The State, Education, Election 2012, US Senate Race at 10:34 am by wcnews

US Senate candidates Paul Sadler and Ted Cruz have very different visions regarding education, Education emerging as point of contrast between Cruz, Sadler.

The contrasts are certainly stark.

Cruz has proposed eliminating what he deems unnecessary federal agencies including the Department of Education, which among other duties administers federal aid for students. Sadler’s campaign highlighted Cruz’s position as an example of contrasting visions in a press release Wednesday accusing Cruz’s campaign of being “anti-student.”

“This is reckless and dangerous and a very bad idea,” Sadler told KVUE. “It would cost the state of Texas between five and six billion more dollars in cuts to public education. Those aren’t mainstream values.”

Cruz told KVUE he believes block grants should be used to allow local government to allocate and administer student aid.

“I think we should take the funding, give it to the states and put the states in a position to make the decisions how to have the greatest impact in their communities,” said Cruz. “The needs in the state of Texas are different from the needs of California, or New York, or Rhode Island, or Nebraska.”

Their first televised clash will be one of political opposites and a step closer for one on the road to Washington, D.C.

And this from the DMN, Cruz waves off Sadler’s claim he’d gut federal college loans.

Texas GOP Senate nominee Ted Cruz on Wednesday dismissed Democratic foe Paul Sadler’s criticism that Cruz’s proposal to abolish the U.S. Department of Education would jeopardize federal student loan programs for college students.

“Of course not,” Cruz said after an Austin appearance.

“Student aid is critically important. … In my life, education opened doors for my parents and for me that never would’ve been opened,” he said.

Cruz said federal student aid funds, though, should be wrested from the federal department’s control, and sent to the states as block grants.


Earlier Wednesday, Sadler said in a release that Cruz’s stance on abolition of the federal department would endanger the student loan programs it now administers.

“The Department of Education includes Federal Student Aid,” said Sadler, a former state legislator. “If we eliminate it, then we truly make college education unaffordable for a large segment of our population in every single country, every single city, every single town.”

Anyone who would trust the state of Texas, i.e. Perry and his minions, to actually use block granted education money for education is fooling themselves. That would be a huge hit to education and the hopes of many poor, working, and middle class Texans to get ahead.

Sadler is also hittling Cruz on his change in debate tactics now that the primary is over, Senate frontrunner Cruz limits debates; Sadler calls him ‘cowardly’.

For Republican U.S. Senate-hopeful Ted Cruz, the role reversal from underdog to favorite has left him open to a charge of hypocrisy from Democrat and challenger Paul Sadler.

Sadler says Cruz is now campaigning like Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst did during the Republican primary, avoiding exchanges before Texas voters. In the months before the May GOP primary and July runoff, Cruz badgered Dewhurst for skipping dozens of candidate forums.
Cruz won the runoff.

But heading into the November election with a big lead in polls and money, Cruz has agreed to just two joint appearances; and that’s fine with him.

In Austin Wednesday to get the endorsement of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Cruz indicated no need to round up more than a pair of debates.

“I’m looking forward to we’ve agreed to two debates,” Cruz said, “I’m looking forward to having a direct and clear contrast between two very different visions for our state and for our nation.”

Sadler said, “He chased Lt. Gov. Dewhurst all across this state and called him everything in the world because he wouldn’t debate him and it’s a little hypocritical to me.”

The first debate will be hosted by KVUE’s sister station, WFAA, in Dallas and aired live on KVUE beginning at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 2.


Someone is getting nervous

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Election 2012, Money In Politics, US Senate Race at 1:13 pm by wcnews

All of the sudden Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is starting to sing a different tune when it comes to campaign finance. Cornyn’s problem seems to be not with the money but with who controls the money. The new, post Citizens Untied world, is taking power from the political parties. Via Roll Call, John Cornyn Open to Campaign Finance Reform.

It’s rare for a Republican leader to express a “transparency” or “accountability”-based argument when it comes to campaign finance. And Cornyn by no means voiced support for the Democrats’ DISCLOSE Act, which has failed multiple times to clear Congress and would force more disclosure from corporate-funded super PACs.

Cornyn expressed support for the right of groups to be engaged in the political process.

“The First Amendment is a fundamental value in this country, and the Supreme Court said as a constitutional matter, you can’t suppress free speech. And we knew all along that McCain-Feingold carved out for organized labor and other groups, so it was really a lopsided deal in the first place,” he said when asked if recent court decisions, such as Citizens United, which prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions, have made the system worse.

Cornyn later clarified in a statement that his concern is primarily with how the political parties have been sidelined:”I believe we should strengthen the political parties, not limit free speech, and that starts with revisiting the federal fundraising restrictions and coordinated limits on both parties. Anyone who supports more campaign finance transparency should support a stronger political party system.”

The parties, but mostly the GOP so far, is losing it’s influence on candidate selection and messaging. It’s pretty easy to see from what went on this year in the US Senate Primary in Texas. Without Citizens United, and the resultant Super PAC’s, Ted Cruz could never have competed financially with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The “party elders” including Gov. Rick Perry were all for Dewhurst and he still lost. Those two things are likely in the back of Cornyn’s mind as he readies for his reelection campaign in 2014.

“It certainly takes away some of the power of the NRSC not only [to] pick candidates but also to drive message,” former NRSC Executive Director Scott Bensing said of the influx of outside groups.

Bensing noted that the “first evolution” of the NRSC happened in 2003, after McCain-Feingold passed. He said the campaign committee has become “a clearinghouse for best practices, specifically with online campaigns.”

“It is more difficult to hold the Senate committee accountable for outcomes, for wins and losses, but I think there are still many ways to hold the committee accountable for how it spent its money, how it distributed its resources,” Bensing said.

Cornyn himself said the “broken campaign finance system” has created a “cacophony” of political voices that sometimes drown out that of the NRSC.

It’s a thesis that could be tested again soon if outside groups rush to the aid of Rep. Todd Akin, who has featured Cornyn’s face in his own against-the-establishment fundraising pleas and whom the NRSC has vowed not to fund in his bid for Missouri’s Senate seat.

After winning the primary to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), Akin lost favor after making controversial statements about rape and rape victims.

“It makes it impossible for the candidates or the political parties, for that matter, to control their message because you have so many different people - I mean, if you look at these campaigns, how many different groups are funding those races? And they can’t coordinate with the candidates or the party,” Cornyn said. “It’s this cacophony of just noise. So I think there’s a lot we could do to make this a lot simpler, if we would, but the whole idea of trying, in McCain-Feingold, to limit the flow of money into politics, has been an abject failure. The only thing that’s happened is that it’s become a lot less transparent.”

That the candidate selection process is slipping from party control, and because of that those candidates can hijack a party’s plan for taking back control of Congress. As an example the extreme Christine O’Donnell in Delaware in 2010 and possibly Akin in Missouri in 2012. This scares those in the party hierarchy, because it is stripping them of their power and control. And it can also change the national narrative and impede the Presidential ticket from pivoting back to the middle. Because of the extreme nominee for US Senate on the GOP side this year, I would encourage everyone to get to know Paul Sadler.


Sadler painting Cruz as an extremist in US Senate race

Posted in Around The State, Election 2012, US Senate Race at 10:28 am by wcnews

In the GOP primary for US Senate in Texas, where both candidates were trying to get as far to the right as possible, and only right wing Republicans were paying attention, most voters are not aware of how extreme the candidates views actually were. During the primary and runoff Lt. Gov. Davide Dewhurst and Ted Cruz were fighting over issues that were a bunch of crap - issues that don’t matter in most Texans daily lives.

The Democratic candidate for US Senate Paul Sadder is trying to change that and make sure Texans know exactly where Cruz stands on the issues that matter most to Texans. Here’s a recent article from the San Angelo Standard Times, Paul Sadler calls Ted Cruz an extremist.

The extremism of U.S. Senate Republican candidate Ted Cruz is too much to bear, his opponent, Democrat Paul Sadler, said in a San Angelo visit Monday.

Cruz would recklessly do away with federal departments such as the Energy, Commerce, Education and the IRS, and he believes the United Nations will in some measure take over the United States, Sadler said.

“I’ve got to get the message out of how extreme his position is,” Sadler said. “I am the mainstream candidate.”

Sadler said that he would work to defend Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, and that the changes Cruz and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan would make could put the elderly and needy at severe risk.

“We’ve never seen the threat to Social Security that is posed to Social Security today,” Sadler said. “We simply cannot abandon our senior citizens who paid for the generation that went before them just because it’s hard now.”

We know the GOP has always had it out for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Some of the most popular programs in history. That keep millions of seniors and the disabled out of poverty and keep their dignity. Just how extreme is Cruz? Well in a recent Sadler campaign email it pointed out that several issues that Cruz suports polled really bad. Here are the issues that were polled

  • His plan to eliminate the Federal Department of Education, including the billions of dollars it sends to Texas;
  • His plan to deny contraceptive coverage to all Texas women;
  • His stated philosophy that the best way to grow the economy is to give big tax cuts to the richest Americans and to remove restrictions on Wall Street banks;
  • His plan to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher health care system for our seniors;
  • His proposal to spend over $7 billion to build a wall from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico - a plan opposed by almost 70 percent of Hispanics who were polled.

As Kuff points out.

Finally, on a tangential note, on the same day this came out I received a campaign email from Paul Sadler announcing that a “new poll” showed a “path to victory” against Ted Cruz. This was a campaign fundraising email, not a press release, so I have no useful numbers to share, but the clear message was that Sadler was competitive among voters who heard his message. Of course, the problem all along is how to get that message out to the voters. You can help by attending our fundraiser on Monday the 24th. It’s big hill to climb but there’s no reason not to try.

In other words the more Texas voters hear about Ted Cruz’s positions on the issues the better Paul Sadler does. I would recommend that everyone go read and/or view this interview Sadler recently did with a Midland/Odessa TV Station. Here are an excerpt:

On Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid:

“The positions that they are taking are extraordinarily destructive and they are very reckless and they hurt people. A lot of people forget that when we started social security half or our seniors lived below poverty, and if we somehow lose social security, over half of our seniors will go back below poverty. I will not abandon the generation that paid for the generation before them, that’s the way social security works. This generation of seniors paid for our parents and grandparents. I won’t abandon them. Mr. Ryan and Mr. Cruz will abandon them.

Medicare is long term hospitalization care for our seniors. We simply can’t abandon that obligation for our seniors. Medicaid involves uninsured children in our state– children with disabilities. It’s also 70% of our nursing home residents. That’s my parents, your grandparents that happen to live in a nursing home that are dependent on Medicaid. These are issues that strike us where we live and breathe, and I will defend those policies and I will do what’s necessary to keep them because I keep my promises and America keeps its promise.

We promised each other that we would grow old with dignity– that we would provide for each other in our old age, and just because it’s hard now doesn’t mean that we will turn our back now. That’s what the voucher system does — it turns our back on our senior citizens, so it’s a critical issue for us.”

On Trusting a Candidate:

“The funny thing about running statewide is that you don’t get to spend a lot of time with many people, but somehow we reach a level of trust with a candidate. And we reach a level of trust based on their record. That’s why the experience level is important.

I was trusted and blessed to be trusted with the children of this state for a decade. The education at a time we led the country in reform and we led the country in mathematics and reading for our early children. I ask the people in Texas to give that trust back to me again. A lot of people don’t like to talk about that but it’s true. You will make a decision to vote for by who you trust to take care of your future and your children’s future. I think you have to look at the record of the people involved.

I have a record in this area and it’s a good record, it’s a record of distinction. It’s one we can all be proud of. I have mainstream values. I have lived in every single region of this state. I understand West Texas and East Texas. I have seen hurricanes on the coast and tornadoes in the Panhandle. I think that with that background that I’m the best person to represent us in the U.S. Senate.

I also have the maturity level. I have been through the devastation of a child being seriously injured. I have seen my in-laws with Alzheimer’s and had to go through those lessons as well. That is something that’s important so when we pass legislation we know if affects you and your family and this community we call Texas — because we’re all in this together. Together we’re strong. I ask for the support of the people of Texas. Thank you.”

Now Sadler may not be a liberal/progressive Democrats dream, but he’d certainly be an improvement over anyone Texas has sent to the Senate in a long time. Sadler states he’s a conservative Democrat. He’s more in the mold of a Lloyd Bentsen but there’s no doubt he would be much better for Texas then the extremist the a sliver of GOP base has nominated.


Bullies at the Ballot Box

Posted in Around The State, Election 2012, Elections, Take Action at 1:17 pm by wcnews

Now that we’ve staved off Voter ID in Texas, there is one more right wing election tactic that must be taken care of, voter intimidation. Here’s the description of the report Bullies at the Ballot Box.

Common Cause and Demos have analyzed laws in 10 key states governing voter intimidation and organized efforts to block Americans from voting . The report reviews Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia, summarizing each state’s practices, and providing a set of recommendations for improvement. The report describes the threat posed by groups that are training volunteers to challenge and confront other Americans as they go to the polls. Voter intimidation is illegal under federal law and in all 10 states surveyed. The report shows that clear rules will ensure that eligible Americans can exercise their civic responsibility to vote.

Here’s an excerpt from the Texas press release.

The study concludes that Texas generally has mixed laws on the books when it comes to voter protection, and that there is plenty of work yet to be done to protect voters from voter intimidation and attempts to kick registered voters off the rolls.

True the Vote and other Tea Party-affiliated groups are reportedly recruiting 1 million volunteers to object to the qualifications of voters in targeted communities on and before Election Day, according to the study. These volunteers are being rallied to block, in their own words, the “illegal alien vote” and “the food stamp army.” Their stated goal is to make the experience of voting “like driving and seeing the police behind you.”

“Voting must be free, fair and accessible to all, and voters should know their rights,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “It is important to maintain the integrity of our election system, but candidates, parties and political activists should be focused on persuading and turning out voters, not bullying them or trying to manipulate the law to freeze them out of our democracy.”

“We call on elections officials and law enforcement at the state and federal level to stand ready to enforce the law and aggressively protect every eligible American’s right to vote this November,” said Liz Kennedy, report co-author and Counsel at Demos. “Wrongful challenges and intimidating tactics should never stand between Americans and their right to have their voices heard on the issues that affect their lives. There should be zero tolerance for bullying at the ballot box.” [Emphasis added]

What they point out is that it is key for voters to know the law in Texas, regarding election day intimidation tactics.

Texas is exemplary in banning voter challenges on Election Day. Texas offers mixed protections for voters from wrongful challenges to their right to vote before Election Day. The state has some excellent and some questionable legal protections for voters from intimidation by partisan poll watchers on Election Day inside and outside the polls:

· For challenges to voter eligibility before Election Day, Texas requires a sworn statement based on personal knowledge.
· Texas is exemplary because it bans challenges to a voter’s eligibility on Election Day.
· Texas prohibits poll watchers from communicating with voters, and a judge can limit disruptive activity. However, the provision that allows a poll watcher to examine the ballot of a voter who has received assistance is very problematic and violates voter privacy.
· Texas prohibits loitering within 100 feet of a polling place, and prohibits persons not engaged in election code activities to be in the polling place.

No one can have their voter eligibility challenged in Texas on Election Day, and the only people that can communicate with a voter on, in the polling place, on Election Day is an election worker. Usually and election worker can be easily identified by their name take identifying them as such.

Voter intimidation has a long history in our country. Voter intimidation is used to try and select who does and doesn’t show up to vote. The best way, initmidators think, to win an election is to try and insure the opponents voters don’t even get to the polling location. So knowing our rights, and the law, will turn any bullies that are encountered into wimps.


The takeaway from Charlotte

Posted in Around The Nation, Election 2012 at 1:27 pm by wcnews

My takeaway from President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech last night was the challenge that he laid out to the country. We he talked about citizenship.

But we also believe in something called citizenship— a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.

We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better.

We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family is protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes, and so is the entire economy.

We believe that a little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the founder of the next Google, or the scientist who cures cancer, or the President of the United States— and it’s in our power to give her that chance.

We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules. We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems— any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.

Because we understand that this democracy is ours.

We, the people, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government.

So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens— you were the change. [Emphasis added]

It made me think of a post from three years ago, You get out of it, what you put into it.

The people have the power to enact change in our country, but only if they use it. If they don’t make their elected officials do what they said they would do, then the lobbyists – who get paid to influence our elected officials – will. So the question becomes, will the people that elected Obama, and the Democrats in Congress, make them do what they said they were going to do?

As a people, in the recent past, Americans elect their leaders and then many complain that the politician didn’t do what they said they were going to do when they campaigned. But the people , by and large, stop working/lobbying their elected officials once the election is over. And their elected officials stop listening, or maybe hearing from them is a better way to put it, once the election is over. But our electeds keep hearing and seeing the lobbyists, again whose job it is to be seen and heard, long after the election is over.

Whether because of laziness, scandal, celebrity news, family, friends, etc…something else grabs the attention of the people once the election, and swearing in, is over. And those left talking to, and influencing, our elected officials are those that are paid to do so. The people in America aren’t doing what’s needed for a democracy to flourish. While it’s easy, and safe, to blame an elected official for not keeping their word, we also must look at ourselves and see if we’re doing our duty as citizens to keep our democracy moving forward. It’s doubtful that the masses that turned out for Barack Obama last fall are still as engaged and are continuing that effort to make sure he follows through on health care, and many other issues.

One of the axioms my Dad often used to encourage me to work hard when I was growing up was, “You get out of it, what you put into it”. The same can be said about our participation in a democracy. If we only pay attention once it becomes September in an election year, just show up to vote,then fade away once the election is over, we shouldn’t be surprised when our elected officials only care what we think during that pre-election time span. An active, literate, and informed citizenry is needed for a democracy to survive and flourish. If our elected officials are not living up to their campaign promises it doesn’t just reflect badly on them, it also reflects badly on all of us. Because we are allowing them to do what’s safe, just enough to get reelected. To get our elected officials to follow through on their campaign promises the voters must follow through as well. And if they’re not doing what they said they would do, we’re only getting out, what we put in.

No president or politician can get anything worthwhile done on their own. They need the people who want change to be informed, active, and involved. It’s time to get to work.


A great first night

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Election 2012, Good Stuff at 3:15 pm by wcnews

I watched most of the Democratic National Convention last night, straight through on C-SPAN. I would recommend that as the best way to watch any convention, without commentary. The one thing that I noticed was the crowd seemed more engaged, fired up, then the crowd at the GOP convention. I thought it was a stark contrast to the GOP convention. Seemed much more upbeat and inspiring, but I’m biased.

Ted Strickland, Deval Patrick and First Lady Michelle Obama all gave great speeches. They made me want to go to polls and drag several people with me. There was never a dull moment.

The main take-away I had from last night was the overall impression I was left with of Julian Castro. For the first time in a long time I can see a way forward for Democrats to win statewide in Texas. It may not be in 2014, but Castro is the kind of candidate that may be able to raise money, and inspire enough Texans to voter for him over a GOP candidate. He gave a speech with great panache, likely scares the Texas GOP, another thing that hasn’t been the case in Texas for a while.

Here’s an excerpt from his speech last night that hit all the right notes, which can be read in full here.

But then President Obama took office—and he took action. When Detroit was in trouble, President Obama saved the auto industry and saved a million jobs. Seven presidents before him—Democrats and Republicans—tried to expand health care to all Americans. President Obama got it done. He made a historic investment to lift our nation’s public schools and expanded Pell grants so that more young people can afford college. And because he knows that we don’t have an ounce of talent to waste, the president took action to lift the shadow of deportation from a generation of young, law-abiding immigrants called dreamers.

I believe in you. Barack Obama believes in you. Now it’s time for Congress to enshrine in law their right to pursue their dreams in the only place they’ve ever called home: America.

Four years ago, America stood on the brink of a depression. Despite incredible odds and united Republican opposition, our president took action, and now we’ve seen 4.5 million new jobs. He knows better than anyone that there’s more hard work to do, but we’re making progress. And now we need to make a choice.

It’s a choice between a country where the middle class pays more so that millionaires can pay less—or a country where everybody pays their fair share, so we can reduce the deficit and create the jobs of the future. It’s a choice between a nation that slashes funding for our schools and guts Pell grants—or a nation that invests more in education. It’s a choice between a politician who rewards companies that ship American jobs overseas—or a leader who brings jobs back home.

This is the choice before us. And to me, to my generation and for all the generations to come, our choice is clear. Our choice is a man who’s always chosen us. A man who already is our president: Barack Obama.

In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don’t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor. My grandmother never owned a house. She cleaned other people’s houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone. [Emphasis added]

And this is what he told Wayne Slater about his and the Democrats future in Texas, Julian Castro unplugged: On Ann Richards, Texas in transition and extremists in the GOP.

Return of Democrats in Texas

“This state will go purple and then go blue in the coming years. The question is how many years. And I believe it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. Some things need to happen: the Hispanic community needs to vote in a much higher rate than does now … (and) the infusion of people from more moderate states is going to change the political landscape, in addition to when you have viable appealing candidates from the Democrats who can excite … Democrats do have a substantial farm team. The question for everybody is, when do you run?”

Hope may be an overused term but hope is what keeps us alive. Castro shows all Democrats in Texas that there is hope for the future in Texas.


Democratic platform moves the country forward

Posted in Around The Nation, Election 2012, Good Stuff, Had Enough Yet?, Presidential Election at 12:41 am by dembones

The 2012 Democratic National Platform begins with the answer to the question that seemed to be just off the Obama campaign’s tip of their tongue over the weekend. Yes, America is better off than it was four years ago:

Four years ago, Democrats, independents, and many Republicans came together as Americans to move our country forward. We were in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the previous administration had put two wars on our nation’s credit card, and the American Dream had slipped out of reach for too many.

Today, our economy is growing again, al-Qaeda is weaker than at any point since 9/11, and our manufacturing sector is growing for the first time in more than a decade.

The 2012 Republican National Platform is a scorched Earth polemic full of unpopular positions, and draws a clear contrast between the visions of the two parties on the future direction of the country.


Statesman profiles Matt Stillwell, HD-136 race

Posted in Election 2012, Williamson County at 10:14 pm by wcnews

Here’s the link to the article, Democrats look to Williamson County for potential new Texas House seat.

People tell Matt Stillwell they’re Democrats as if they’re afraid to admit it.

At least that’s what Stillwell — a Democratic candidate for a new state House district centered in southwestern Williamson County — said he’s found in his campaign to try to turn a chunk of the historically red county blue.

All county and state elected officeholders from Williamson County are Republicans. The party has long dominated the area. But Democrats are eyeing the new district as a potential weak spot in the Republican stronghold, counting it among a handful of districts they hope to take in November.

The race is a high priority, said Bill Brannon, executive director of the state Democratic Party.

“I would say it’s either top tier or very, very close to top tier — it’s a high target,” Brannon said. “It’s a race that presents a lot of opportunities.”

The Democrats hope that Stillwell, a father of three who owns an insurance agency and has never held elected office, can beat out Republican candidate Tony Dale and Libertarian Matthew Whittington for control of House District 136. The new district covers portions of Northwest Austin, Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock and the Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District.


“Any time a Democrat tries to come into Williamson County and win, it’s going to be an uphill battle,” said Bill Gravell, a political consultant who has worked on campaigns in the county since the early 1990s. “I can’t think of a more formidable candidate than Tony Dale.”

Republicans currently hold 101 of the Texas House’s 150 seats — a supermajority that allowed the party to control the state’s budget during the last legislative session. They aren’t likely to keep such a strong hold on the chamber after redistricting redrew boundaries, creating new districts like the one in Williamson County. The Republican Party has said it expects its House membership to number in the mid-90s, while the state’s Democratic Party has said it envisions 84 Republicans and 66 Democrats.

Democrats say demographics in the newly drawn district provide an opportunity for the party.

According to data from the Williamson County Elections Department, more than a third of registered voters in the district live in Austin and nearly 20 percent of them are 30 or younger — a group that generally leans left.

Having seen Matt Stillwell speak a couple of times he is an impressive candidate. I would encourage everyone who it tired of politics as usual in Williamson County to get to know him. He’ll fight for education and be a breath of fresh air in the Texas Legislature in 2013.


Democrats see opportunity in Charlotte

Posted in Around The Nation, Election 2012, Good Stuff, Had Enough Yet?, Presidential Election, Right Wing Lies at 10:26 pm by dembones

After a gaff-filled week in Tampa, Florida, Republicans appear to be experiencing a middling bounce. Unforced errors are certainly at the center of any forensic study of the RNC failure; however, to blame it all on style is to overlook the bitter substance of the Republican agenda.

Running on a platform of austerity, tax cuts for millionaires, Groupon for Grandma voucher-based Medicare, and further culture warfare that targets women’s equality and liberty, the Republicans are hemmed into politically unpopular positions. No wonder their Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees delivered policy-free acceptance speeches.

In place of substance, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney used fact-free filler. Although Romney’s acceptance speech, according to New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, “avoided the flat-out falseness of Ryan’s,” one in ten of the Romney campaign’s statements evaluated by fact-checking site PolitiFact have been branded “Pants on Fire” lies. In comparison, only one in fifty of the Obama campaign’s statements earned that distinction.

The reaction from the right to having their lies exposed? Blame the fact-checkers! The crime that the Weekly Standard hopes will taint all the fact-checking analysis? A New York Times goof, misplacing interior quote marks. The original White House release did not indicate exactly which of the President’s words were directly quoting a Republican source, and the Times mistakenly included ten extra words in the interior quote. Scandalous! That’s evidence of “incompetent partisans masquerading as ‘independent’ media fact checking organizations.”

En route from the Charlotte Douglas Airport to the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, North Carolina, today, I rode with a busload of arriving delegates to the Democratic National Convention. North Carolina voted for Obama in 2008, and is currently leaning toward Romney. Along the route was one of those weakly-identified political billboards screaming, “Don’t believe the liberal media.”

In 2012, the election hinges on the Republicans being able to prevaricate on a level previously unknown in modern American politics, while imploring their flock to ignore any facts that deviate from their dystopian world view as a plot by liberal media elites. With all their cash, Fox News and the rest of the RWNM, there is a chance they could pull it off.

The stakes for the Democrats this week are high. Will we effectively make the case that Pres. Barack Obama has performed admirably under incredibly adverse conditions, and deserves four more years to try to right the disastrous state that Republicans and Wall Street leveraged buy-out con artists have left us in? Will we be able to effectively articulate what it means to be a Democrat in memorable sound-bite form? Will we be able to rekindle the hope that flickered to life four years ago, only to be extinguished by grinding reality.

We cannot move forward to the promised land as long as the few who have it all are willing to settle for “a lot”, and leave the rest of us a little bit larger slice of the pie. The 2012 campaign pits hope against greed. This is our week to make the case to the American public.

I am deeply honored to have a front-row seat this week. I’ll be reporting on what I experience here. Please allow yourself to hope we succeed.

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