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2014

It's Time for a Sobriety Center in Travis County


by: Andy Brown

Sun Feb 09, 2014 at 07:33 PM CST

Did you know that there is a better way to address mental and behavior health in Travis County?  I recently took trips to Houston and San Antonio to see first-hand how these Texas cities are mitigating the high cost of public intoxication arrests-many of which involve the homeless or mentally ill.

Accompanying me on these trips were United Way and Caritas board member Dan Graham, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition executive director Ana Correa, Austin Interfaith Leader Ofelia Zapata, Austin/Travis County EMS Association president Tony Marquardt, and Ending Community Homelessness Coalition Board Member Tim League, -all of whom, like me, are passionate about this matter.

More below the jump.

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It's Time to Invest in Travis County!


by: Ramey Ko

Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 03:19 PM CST

(Thanks also to Travis County Treasurer candidate and long-time BOR community member Ramey Ko for taking the time to share his thoughts.   - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

After much thoughtful consideration and encouragement from activists and community leaders across the county, I am excited to announce that I have officially filed to run for the office of Travis County Treasurer. I have had the privilege of serving my community in a variety of ways, and I hope to take this opportunity to take that service to the next level. As an attorney, I served victims of domestic violence and sexual assault with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and the Texas Advocacy Project. More recently, I served as an Associate Judge of the Austin Municipal Court and as a lecturer at the University of Texas. As a member of the Austin Public Safety Commission, I have worked on budget and policy issues concerning police, fire, and emergency medical services.

I am running for Treasurer to bring Travis County finances back to the people. I am running because I want to ensure that the office of the Treasurer serves as the strong steward of taxpayer dollars it was intended to be and restore the appropriate balance to county government. As Treasurer, I will work to make certain that our shared investments reflect our most deeply held values of fairness, equity, and empowerment.

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Congressional Republicans Plan To Obstruct Their Way To A Senate Majority


by: Joe Deshotel

Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 10:00 AM CST

Texas Congressman Pete Session told Roll Call, "Everything we do in this body should be about messaging to win back the Senate." That pretty much sums up what many even casual political observers have noticed about the GOP Congress -- their only goal is to see the President and his party fail.

Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly blame Congressional Republicans for the partial shutdown of the federal government which they also viewed quite negatively. Even as their popularity wanes, Republicans continue to dig in their heels in obstruction.  

Ironically that may not be the worst news for Democrats as they continue to lead in the generic Congressional ballot by better than 6%. In 2010 when the Tea Party wave crashed Congress, Republicans led the same poll by nearly 10%. Currently the partisan makeup of the House has Republicans leading by 31 of the 434 seats, meaning Democrats would need a pick up of 17 to take back the House.

Click below the jump to see what chance Republicans actually have to take back the US Senate in 2014...

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Awakening The Sleeping Giant: Why Latinos Should Back Wendy Davis For Governor of Texas in 2014


by: Omar Araiza

Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 09:45 AM CDT

Senator Wendy Davis' announcement to run for Governor of Texas in 2014 has sparked a renewed sense of life and energy to the Texas Democratic Party. Millions of people from across the state and country are keeping a close-eye on Texas for that first glimpse of the state's long -- but seemingly inevitable -- journey to blue.

Davis' personal history of overcoming great obstacles -- elected twice in a swing district that's considered a microcosm of Texas, where Mitt Romney won easily last November -- has proven, time and again, that underestimating her can be her opponents' biggest mistake.

Davis outworked her opponents in Tarrant County every single time and successfully assembled a coalition of Hispanics, African-Americans, female voters and moderate Republicans to champion races that seemed certain to end in defeat.

Davis, a single mom who worked her way up from a trailer park to make it through Harvard Law School, has a large populace appeal. Her commitment to overcoming poverty by means of hard work and education is a personal story Hispanics in Texas -- the state's largest ethnic minority and continuously growing demographic -- understand very intimately. Her commitment to education, access to healthcare, and equal economic opportunity and pay for all are issues that directly affect and matter to Hispanics.

Considering the massive energy, previous successful minority outreach and populace appeal behind her: Is Wendy Davis the candidate that can finally awaken the sleeping giant that is the Latino vote in Texas?

Read more below the jump.

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2014 Democratic Primary: Dallas County Primer


by: jvansickle

Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 11:02 PM CDT

(Thanks to James Van Sickle for this primer on what's on the (very long) ballot in Dallas this cycle! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

Since the Labor Day Picnic held by Dallas Democrats, campaign season has slowly gotten underway.  

As mentioned in previous articles, all countywide offices in the Dallas are held by Democrats.  As we prepare a list of contested races, this article is to discuss the countywide and other down ballots races in the Democratic Primary.  I will follow-up with later articles discussing other races affecting Dallas County and their candidates.

Below the jump, read up on who's running and learn about the most important race that wasn't....

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Check Out The Current AWESOME Cover of Texas Monthly


by: Ben Sherman

Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:00 AM CDT

This month, turning Texas blue is front and center on our state's famous monthly magazine. The cover, a striking image of three Democratic Texas stars, is undoubtably the best since the classic Ann "White Hot Mama" Richards one in 1992.

Check it out below the jump.

 

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South Forward Is Bringing Progress to Old Dixie


by: Joe Deshotel

Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 05:03 PM CDT

South Forward is a new 501(c)4 federal PAC that is focused on electing Democrats across the South from Texas to Florida and up to West Virginia. They held a packed pow wow lunch at Netroots Nation to get the progressive community across the country aware of their efforts. For such a new group they have already put together an impressive portfolio of press hits and electoral impact.

While groups like Battleground Texas focus on the long game and registering voters, South Forward has jumped straight into the fray with political attack ads. No race is too small as they scout competitive races from congress to city council. Their 2013 focus will be on candidate recruitment and campaign staff training in preparation for 2014 and beyond. So far they have not taken a hard line on whether or not they will be involved in primary battles but have not completely ruled out that possibility where faux progressives use the "D" label. Specifically though, South Forward is about electing progressives and not getting mired in the determination of those issues. As we were told by a South Forward representative they, "are not a think tank."

Their most high profile involvement so far has been to back Democratic congressional candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch with ads against former disgraced South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Of course this was always a long shot because that district was heavily Republican and only "competitive" due to the nature of his scandal and the embarrassment he brought upon his state. However, they have already met some success in Mississippi municipal elections. Progressives are well aware that the Republican tide that took over over the South wasn't a fluke. Republicans started decades ago recruiting candidates at the local level from city council to school board and South Forward is taking the same approach for Democrats. Perhaps that is the most exciting aspect of their plan since those seats are often launching pads and training grounds for future county and state legislative office holders.

The demographic changes occurring across old Dixie are not lost on South Forward either. According to their 2013 plan they will focus, "specifically on women, African American and Latino candidates and campaign managers and staff."

Former DNC Chair Don Fowler had this to say in a letter of support for South Forward:

"We can't have a true national party, though, if we are willing to write off an entire region of the country just because it's more difficult to win elections there. Demographically, the South is changing. Growing Hispanic populations in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas,Oklahoma, North Carolina and South Carolina will make it ever more possible for Democrats to be competitive, but we can't just depend upon demographic and population shifts to hand Democrats key victories."

You can see the first of many ads to come by South Forward below the jump...

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George W. Bush's Nephew Finally Announces for Land Commissioner


by: Phillip Martin

Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 04:03 PM CDT

Progress Texas released the following on George P.'s announcement for Land Commissioner - he will have to follow his family legacy of No Child Left Behind and Vouchers in his quest to oversee the Permanent School Fund.
(TEXAS) - Today, President George W. Bush's nephew, George P. Bush, announced that, after much deliberation among his family about which statewide office he would deem worthy of his candidacy, he would take his unique Bush-related talents to the office of State Land Commissioner. Among its many duties, the Land Commissioner's office oversees investments made to the Permanent School Fund.

Former Governor Jeb Bush's son has been toying with running for office for months, visiting donors in other states - including Georgia and California - to ask what millionaires from outside of Texas think he should run for in Texas. To date, he has raised millions from his family's network of donors to run for office just because his last name is Bush.

Following in the footsteps of his uncle's No Child Left Behind agenda (President George W. Bush) and his father's school voucher schemes (former Florida Governor Jeb Bush), the grandson of former President George H. W. Bush told the Associated Press that he would run for Land Commissioner.

The following is a statement from Progress Texas Executive Director Matt Glazer:
    "Serving in elected office is a privilege, not a birthright. George Bush must go through the same public screening as any other candidate.

    "Polls show that Texans strongly reject the standardized testing and privatization policies his family has promoted. Unless George Bush can prove he's not just another Bush, his candidacy is likely to be met with strong opposition across the state."
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2014 Texas Governor's Race: Democratic Primary Preview


by: Ben Sherman

Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 00:00 PM CST

The Republican primary is already getting spicy as donors choose between Attorney General Abbott and Governor Perry.

But what's happening on the Democratic side? With Battleground Texas swooping in to give our state the Democratic voter push it needs, the Democratic effort will be one to watch. There are a number of good candidates who may run, but little besides speculation to go on for now. We can expect to see candidate announcements in June, when fundraising commences.

Who's On Deck for 2014?

State Representative Mike Villarreal: Representing San Antonio in the Texas House since 1999, Mike Villarreal has gained a name for himself as a serious legislator with an appealing personality. After growing up in San Antonio, Villarreal went to Texas A&M and then Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and is now pursuing a PhD in public affairs at UT's LBJ School while teaching as an adjunct professor at St. Mary's University. He has spent the last three years focusing on education (a perfect issue to bring statewide) and budget transparency. Villarreal is young, a strong campaigner, and would certainly appeal to Texas's growing Hispanic voting population. The 123rd House District is safely Democratic, making Villarreal an even more appealing potential candidate for Texas Democrats.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White: The Democratic nominee for governor in 2010, Bill White has spent couple of years laying low in Houston while working in investments. White ran an impressive campaign all over Texas in 2010 that garnered national attention, and his loss is blamed in large part on the year's difficulty for Democrats nationwide. A poll released a few weeks ago by Public Policy Polling shows White leading Perry in a 2014 matchup, making a strong case for White's electability. White was a hugely successful mayor, and has a down-to-earth persona appealing to a broad swath of Texans. Earlier in 2010, White sought Kay Bailey Hutchison's Senate seat before she took back her promise to retire. So it's not impossible that White will seek Sen. John Cornyn's Senate seat in 2014. But no one knows what White will do yet - he hasn't said anything either way.

State Senator Kirk Watson: Austin's former mayor is a well-known, personable legislator who would appear to have the energy for a run at the governor's office. He ran for Attorney General in 2002, losing to Greg Abbott, but 2014 is a very different year. Watson might be able to capitalize on his ability to rev up Democrats, six years of experience in the Texas Senate, and plentiful ideas to make a serious run at the governor's office.

Longer shots include...

State Representative Rafael Anchia: Representing Dallas in the Texas House since 2004, Anchia is known as a likable, hard-working legislator. Anchia would certainly run a good campaign with his appeal to both Latinos and Texas's growing 18-35 year old Demographic. Any plans about future runs for office are not yet known.

State Senator Wendy Davis: An energetic and charismatic progressive who singlehandedly forced a special session in 2011 by filibustering the state's inadequate education funding, Davis would be a very good candidate for governor. She's been representing Fort Worth since 2009 and regularly makes lists of state legislators to watch. Even if she doesn't run in 2014, Democrats will be hoping she does soon. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilbert Hinojosa recently said of Davis, "From the perspective of electability, she's one of our top superstars in Texas. Her sensibility and approach to politics will just automatically propel her as a top candidate for statewide office."

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro: San Antonio's mayor is the top Democrat in Texas and arguably the brightest rising star of Democrats nationwide. From his celebrated keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention to his upcoming autobiography, it's only a matter of time before Castro runs for higher office. But which office will that be? Castro just announced his re-election campaign in the 2013 San Antonio mayor's race, and says he's "not running" for governor in 2014. That's probably true, but he certainly deserves his place on this list - if only for all the buzz you'll hear about him around this race and others.

Whoever the candidate is, expect 2014 to be a year of energetic Democratic campaigning as Texas comes closer and closer to voting blue statewide.

Update: Thrillingly, State Senator Wendy Davis appears ready to run for governor.

Discuss :: (18 Comments)

To The Left, To The Left: The Case for Governor Beyonce In 2014


by: Katherine Haenschen

Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 09:30 AM CST

Just hear me out on this, y'all.

Houston native and international superstar Beyonce Knowles is the best chance for Texas Democrats to recapture the Governor's mansion in 2014.

On a policy front, Beyonce presents a vastly more progressive and populist alternative to Rick Perry or any Republican currently being bandied about to replace him.

She'd be honest about our Medicaid and education bills, bills, bills, and engage in a real conversation about the need for added revenue in our cash-strapped state. She'd restore the $9-to-$1 federal matching Medicaid funds for family planning so all the single ladies (and the married ones too!) can get their annual exams, and allow Planned Parenthood to participate in the program again. And I bet she'd perform a pretty spectacular state of the state address -- and honestly if she lip-synched it I wouldn't really care.

As for the campaign itself, I don't think there's a Republican ready for this jelly.

If Rick Perry's past performance is any indicator, he probably can't even name every member of Destiny's Child if it comes up in a debate. As for Greg Abbott, even he would meet his match in campaign funding against one of the best-selling artists of all time. She could probably top even Dewhurst-level self-financing! And unlike most people Democrats might nominate statewide, her name ID is already sky-high, and I bet her approval rating is too (especially among the male voters after last night, am I right?).

Democrats have needed a fierce campaigner willing to go after every last voter. While the 2012 data isn't finished yet, females made up 52% of the vote in our urban counties, and if there's one voter who can convince these girls that they run the world, or at least can be the deciding factor in a gubernatorial election, it's Beyonce. She'll persuade the Independent women who have been shifting away from Democrats in recent cycles to come back to the party. And you know, if I were a boy voter, I know who I'd rather see on the news every night for 3 years.

Maybe I'm dangerously in love with this idea. But let's get real for a second here: Governor Beyonce Knowles could not possibly cause more harm to Texas than the trifling', good for nothing type of brother that currently holds the office. At this point, her vast media empire is better run than our state is, and that statement is first and foremost an indictment of how Rick Perry and the Republicans have refused to meet the needs of the present or invest in our future. This diva would be a vast improvement on Rick Perry on every measurable level -- she's even got better hair.

Texas Democrats could do a lot worse than Beyonce, while Texas can't do much worse than Rick Perry. Demographics are changing, national donors are looking at our state with renewed interest, and two of President Obama's top field gurus have launched an effort to make this state the next battleground. After last night's tremendous performance, Beyonce needs to capture this momentum and launch an exploratory committee.

Maybe it's... destiny.

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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
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