Congressman Lloyd Doggett had this to say about tonight's State of the Union address:
"From Pre-K to post-grad, our investments in education are about individual opportunity and having a stronger, more competitive workforce. And certainly I agree with the President on immigration reform. We can benefit substantially in Texas economically from this immigrant workforce. We need to not only pass the DREAM Act, of which I've long been a sponsor, but to see that these families are not ripped asunder."
Watch the whole video to hear Congressman Doggett's full-throated support for progressive policies desperately needed in Texas and across America.
Congressman Lloyd Doggett is a progressive champion who has earned another term. We unanimously and enthusiastically endorse him for election in the new CD-35.
Doggett has earned re-election through his leadership on issues that matter most to Texans -- especially low-income Texans -- throughout his career. He fought Perry's efforts to defund Texas public schools, he advocates loudly and proudly for women's reproductive rights, and he works hard to make sure that every issue that crosses his desk is made more progressive. Additionally, Doggett is a champion of the progressive socio-economic policies that are so needed to keep our economy on an upward trajectory and create a truly fair and equitable society. (It's no wonder Republicans hate him so much!)
Furthermore, Doggett's constituent services work is unmatched. Talk to any Austinite who's needed help on a Federal issue, and odds are they've talked to Doggett's office, which does the yeoman's work of handling cases from across the region. The Austinites among us are deeply concerned about losing our one Democratic representative, and the one congressman from our city that reflects our values and works hard to meet our needs. Doggett has performed the same work for Hays and Caldwell counties, not to mention the myriad other places Republicans have drawn into CD-10 and CD-25 in their efforts to oust the Democratic stalwart. We are confident that once elected, his new constituents in Bexar County will receive the same great services.
Doggett is running in CD-35 because Republicans have fought tooth and nail to draw him out of Congress. There's no bigger thumb in the eye to the Republican redistricting process than sending Rep. Lloyd Doggett back to Congress in January.
Stand up for our progressive values, stand up to Republican gerrymandering of our communities, and stand with Congressman Lloyd Doggett in CD-35.
Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.
Travis County, Republican-drawn and Democrats cornered.
With redistricting heading into the courts today, now is a good time to examine one of the more problematic regions of the Congressional map: Travis County, and the five-way split designed to deny Austin a home-grown Democratic representative. And not just any representative, but Congressman Lloyd Doggett, staunch progressive and constant thorn-in-the-side of Rick Perry and Texas Republicans for decades.
Republicans are so committed to removing Lloyd Doggett from Congress, they've drawn a map with the express purpose of doing just that.
We can argue about seniority vs. fresh blood, Anglo vs. Hispanic, but that's a distraction from the real victims of this gerrymander: above all, this map harms the people of Texas, who will be shortchanged the Democratic representation they deserve.
Republicans intentionally drew liberal Travis County into five districts to fracture our Democratic voting base, with the intent purpose of booting Representative Lloyd Doggett out of Congress. It's no coincidence that the one Democratic district that contains a chunk of Travis County, the new CD-35, runs down to San Antonio and is heavily Hispanic, thus theoretically favoring a Latino candidate.
While 31 percent of the population is in Travis County, 47 percent is in Bexar County. It's a minority district, too, with Hispanics accounting for 62.8 percent of the population and blacks accounting for 10.8 percent. Barack Obama got 63.2 percent of the vote in 2008; Bill White, the Democrat who challenged Perry in the governor's race in 2010, got 60 percent of the district's votes.
Break it down as a turf war between Austin and San Antonio and points in between, and the analysis favors the challenger. Break it down as a racial contest, with an Anglo running against a Hispanic in a district with a comfortable Hispanic majority, and the analysis favors the challenger.
Doggett, a die-hard progressive who has served Central Texas in Congress since 1995, is now running in a Democratic primary for the new CD-35 against State Representative Joaquin Castro. Castro, along with his brother Julian, Mayor of San Antonio, and many of his Legislative colleagues, are by all accounts a huge and important part of the next generation of Texas Democratic leaders. We need young, engaging Latinos running for office across Texas to excite and engage our growing Latino voter population.
With this map, Texas Republicans are turning Democrats against each other, and forcing Doggett, who has fought for our progressive values for decades in Congress, the Texas Senate, and Texas Supreme Court, into battle against Castro, a rising star who should have an equally long opportunity to serve his home community of San Antonio.
This map hurts voters Austin and San Antonio alike, by forcing our Democratic populations to battle over one district, rather than each have our own home-grown Democrats working together in Congress to do what's best for everyone in the region.
As a Democrat who wants to see both of them in Congress, I think it's an outrage that the voters are being forced to choose thanks to this partisan gerrymander. But that's exactly what Republicans want. From Politico:
"The state-level Republicans can't stand Lloyd Doggett," said Chris Perkins, a Texas-based GOP pollster who helped then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay craft the 2004 lines. "I had heard from several Republicans that a map that brings back Lloyd Doggett is a nonstarter."
"This time, he was clearly targeted for defeat," Perkins said. "There was no question."
While the map was expressly drawn to favor Castro, Doggett has two advantages in this race: he's represented over 50% of this new district in the past, during the other iterations of CD-25, his currently district, as well as CD-10, which he was drawn out of by Tom Delay and Tom Craddick in 2003. (Sensing a pattern yet?) That 2003 map, the "fajita strip," was redrawn in 2006 when CD-23 (now held by Republican Quico Canseco, and formerly held by Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, a Latino district that factors heavily into 2011's court case as well) was found unconstitutional.
Doggett's other advantage is his war chest. Per the New York Times, Doggett had over $2.8 million cash on hand on his last FEC filing. But it's still a surprise that some major Republican donors have been lining up to help Castro close the money gap on Doggett. The host list for his August 4th fundraiser in San Antonio included a long list of mega Republican donors, at least one of whom is also raising for Perry's presidential campaign.
Included on the host list are folks like Gene Dawson, who has given over $25K to Rick Perry, and a substantial amount to the RNC, John Cornyn, John McCain, and even Ted Cruz. Other hosts, including Sam Dawson, Bill Kaufman, and Carl Raba, have given substantially to the likes of Lamar Smith, John Cornyn, and John McCain, and only minimally to Democratic candidates. Another host, Bill Greehey, has since been busy raising money for Rick Perry's San Antonio fundraiser last week. And a significant number of hosts have extensive Republican voting records -- we're talking 3 or 4 consecutive Republican primary votes here. Frankly, I doubt they'd be donating to Castro if he wasn't running against the Republicans' #1 target, Lloyd Doggett.
You know, the irony is, if this were a general election scenario, I'd be much less wary to see a Democrat raising so much from Republicans. After all, I cheered the Republicans who supported Bill White against Rick Perry, as simple common sense and concern for Texas dictated. But this is a Democratic primary, where Democratic voters are supposed to decide who best represents their values and ideals. In one of the few Democratic districts the Republican Legislature left standing, it's troubling to see so much Republican money trying to muddy the waters. Some of Castro's earliest financial supporters are big-money Republicans and Perry supporters. And frankly, I simply can't assume the best of intentions for these folks. I honestly think they're pouring money into the race not because they're totally enamored with Castro (at least I hope not, since these are some pretty conservative folks), but because they so deeply want to get rid of Doggett.
Again, I honestly think Texas would be better served with a Congressional map that puts both Doggett and Castro in our nation's capital, putting their progressive values to work for the people of Austin and San Antonio alike. The illustration above, the five-way hatchet-job of Travis County, doesn't do anyone any good. And if Mike McCaul does indeed step into the Senate primary, America's 14th largest city might be left with no Congressional member who calls Austin home. Frankly, it takes the Legislature's Austin-hating to a whole new level.
It remains to be seen if the maps are changed, particularly in terms of how districts 23, 25, and 35 are drawn, and if our minority population growth in Texas is given the four new Congressional seats it deserves. Personally, I'd love to see a realistic CD-23 that elects another Hispanic Democrat to Congress, and a CD-25 that doesn't merely slice across Central Austin in order to force our African-American precincts into a conservative Hill Country district.
Meanwhile, it remains clear that removing Lloyd Doggett from Congress, and denying Austin as much representation as possible are two primary goals of Texas Republicans, both serving in the Legislature and Washington, D.C. And nothing would be more amusing to watch them instead have to contend with Doggett and Castro, and a few more elected Democratic representatives to boot.
To be upfront, I recognize that it can be troublesome to compare apples and oranges. Unless Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Rep. Joaquin Castro are casting the same votes, how can you truly compare their voting records? This is, obviously, a problem, but the concerns raised thus far on BOR about the progressiveness of Rep. Castro and Cong. Doggett don't seem to be about any one issue. Instead, the focus appears to just be on how "progressive" each person is. The comments below, from when I first wrote about the potential race in the newly drawn CD-35, provide a good insight into what I'm talking about:
I think Castro may be too quiescent and cooperative with the radical republicans currently in place. Maybe I'm wrong and he'll be just as fierce an advocate and defender as Doggett has been. That would be great. Unfortunately, I'd rather just vote for the original. I'm advocating real leadership and persuasion rather than the current phony bipartisanship and equanimity. - Mcblogger
The wise thing for progressive Democrats to do is to leave a proven, effective US Congressman, with seniority, in office working for all Texans. - ssuits
Lloyd Doggett has been by far the best member of the Texas Congressional Delegation and I say that without hesitation. He has been there for us when quite frankly, there have been Texas Democrats who have not walked the walk. And so I'm going to be there for him. For that reason, I strongly support Lloyd Doggett. He has done the job and will continue to the job the way he has always done. - v2aggie2
That left me wondering - how progressive are the two likely candidates for the newly drawn CD-35? The result may surprise you.
How Progressive Are Congressman Doggett and Representative Castro?
Rep. Castro's rating is based on an analysis compiled by Mark Jones of Rice University, who evaluated "nearly 1,000 votes" to come up with his numbers. Congressman Doggett's rating is based on an analysis by National Journal, which creates individual scores on economic, social, and foreign policy votes and then generates one composite score. (Update: To compare among Democrats w/in their respective chambers, Rep. Castro ranked 12th out of 49 Democrats - putting him in the top 24% among Democrats in the Texas House, while Congressman Doggett ranked 147th out of 256 Democrats - putting him in the top 57% among Democrats in the U.S. House.)
Throughout the campaign, both Congressman Doggett and Representative Castro will have to -- and should -- answer lots of questions about policies, past and future, and where they stand. I expect Congressman Doggett to have a much greater understanding of federal issues, given how long he's been in office. But, at least on its face, these numbers should put to rest concerns that Rep. Joaquin Castro would not be a progressive enough member of Congress for Austin.
Yesterday, Rep. Joaquin Castro had an event at Juan in a Million for his campaign for Congress. Rep. Castro is running for the newly drawn CD-35 seat, an open seat that runs from southeastern Austin to San Antonio. I, along with several other BOR writers past and present, attended the event. The most notable person in the 125-person crowd (approximate) was former Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, who came in and was immediately welcomed with enthusiasm by those in attendance.
State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, brought his message Thursday to a gathering at Juan in a Million, a popular East Austin restaurant and frequent stop for politicians. More than 100 people turned out for the first campaign event in the race.
Castro is running to represent District 35, a newly drawn district that runs from Austin to San Antonio.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, an Austin Democrat who has served for nearly 17 years in Congress, said he will run for re-election if officials sign off on the district's constitutionality.
Doggett could have an uphill climb. District 35's population would tilt toward San Antonio, and about 58 percent of the district's voting-age population is Latino.
Castro said Thursday that the country needs a sound health care system and improved education.
He also talked about fighting congressional Republicans and bolstering business opportunities - such as clean energy - along the corridor between Austin and San Antonio.
Rep. Castro was asked what differentiates him from Congressman Lloyd Doggett, and whether or not he would be a progressive voice for Austin. This is a concern/argument I've heard raised by many in Austin, especially those touting Congressman Doggett's candidacy in the newly drawn district. Rep. Castro noted that since he was elected in 2003, he's often been ranked as one of the most liberal/progressive members in the Texas House. He also discussed how he has maintained that record while also working with Republicans, pointing out that he successfully passed two spending amendments onto the Republican-crafted Texas budget - a claim few, if any, other Democrats in the Texas House can make.
Who else went to the event? What were your thoughts and impressions?
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the nine-term, liberal Austin congressman, foiled Republicans’ efforts to redistrict him out of office in 2003 and intends to do it again in 2012, living “in a Winnebago, if that’s what it takes,” to vie for a newly-drawn district that encompasses San Antonio’s most Democratic and Hispanic neighborhoods and spreads up to southern Travis County.
The Republican Legislature drew him a bad map again this year, and getting through March's Democratic primary could be a doozy. At a minimum, Doggett will face State Rep. Joaquin Castro, a 36-year-old rising star in his party who has politics in his DNA - his identical twin brother Julián is San Antonio's mayor - and grew up in one of the San Antonio neighborhoods central to the new district.
But Representative Joaquin Castro is a great elected official, one who is an excellent spokesperson for the American Dream and the future of our country. As the Tribune story above notes, the district is weighted to favor an Hispanic from San Antonio, and the financial advantages Congressman Doggett currently possesses are leveled out, at least initially, by the numbers of the district.
It will be an interesting race, and one I hope Burnt Orange Report will cover closely in the weeks and months to come.