Rafael Anchia misses Mark Strama, but that desk won't be empty for that much longer.
Rick Perry made an announcement, and now the game is set.
WHAT: HD50 Special Election to Replace Mark Strama
WHERE: House District 50 (Travis County!)
Election Day: November 5
Early Voting Starts: October 21
Deadline to File a Candidacy: September 4
WHO: The hardcore voters of HD50 (and hopefully more!)
WHY: Because Google Mark Strama
The candidates with treasurers filed with the Texas Ethics Commission are the same as they have been: Democrats Ramey Ko, Celia Israel, Jade Chang Sheppard, Rico Reyes, and Republican Michael Cargill. Now, they have just less than 8 weeks to officially file for the seat. As a note - it's possible that a new election date changes the timeline for residency requirements, so it will be interesting to see if that affects any candidates. Otherwise the analysis I made a couple weeks ago when Strama resigned still holds.
Go below the fold to read statements and media from different candidates since the announcement.
Earlier this week, two new "It Gets Better" videos was released by Omar Araiza, who works for Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa. The video features a long handful of legislatures, all Democrats. State Representative Mary Gonzalez, the first openly pansexual legislator, is among the legislators who take part.
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.
Yesterday in the Texas House, Democratic Representatives Rafael Anchia and Garnet Coleman filed twin resolutions, HJR 77 and 78 which propose "a constitutional amendment to repeal the constitutional provision providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."
If passed by a 2/3rds majority of both the House and Senate, it would put the question on the November 2013 constitutional amendment ballot to effectively repeal HJR 6 aka Prop 2 from the 2005 legislation session which passed by a 76-24 margin by Texas voters in the fall of 2005.
"In 2005, most Texans did not support any form of legal recognition for lesbian and gay couples. But, public opinion has changed greatly in the last eight years, both across the country and right here in Texas," said Representative Coleman, who has championed a repeal in multiple legislative sessions. "Two-thirds of Texas' voters now believe the state should allow some form of legal recognition for committed same-gender couples," Coleman said.
While a majority of Texans still oppose marriage equality, an October, 2012 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll reported that 36 percent of Texas voters surveyed would support allowing lesbian & gay couples to marry, while another 33 percent would allow civil unions but not marriage. Only 25 percent of Texas voters said that same-gender couples should neither be allowed to marry nor enter into a civil union.
"Millions of Texans have had their own very personal evolution on this issue," said Chuck Smith, Executive Director at Equality Texas. "Texans now agree that all couples in loving and committed relationships deserve the opportunity to create stronger and more successful families. Because the Texas Constitution currently prohibits any form of recognition similar to marriage, the first step toward civil unions or marriage must be repeal of the discriminatory 2005 amendment," Smith concluded.
While unlikely to garner 2/3rds support in both chambers this session given that Democrats hold only slightly more than 1/3rd support in either house, today's Democratic caucus consists of a greater percentage of proponents of marriage equality than the 2005 session. As the party rebuilds its coalition in coming years it is likely to garner far more supportive votes towards an eventual repeal, if the Supreme Court does not rule such bans unconstitutional first.
The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act yesterday in a 5-4 vote. It was a surprise win for Democrats and liberals. Meanwhile, Fox News was stunned as they tried to figure out what to do with all of the confetti they bought to celebrate the bill's defeat. Rimshot!
Once the SCOTUS ruled, Texas Democrats sent out a wide range of statements praising the impact of the ruling on the 24.6% of Texans who are currently uninsured.
State Senator Leticia Van De Putte provided us with some helpful figures about what the ACA is already doing here in Texas:
300,371 young adults gained health care coverage through their parents' plan
4,029 individuals with preexisting conditions now have health care
55,280 seniors saved an average of $1,384 on prescription drugs
3,836,000 received preventive care with no co-pays
No wonder Republicans are calling for its repeal -- the Affordable Care Act just helps too darn many working people!
Below the jump, read public statements from the following great Democrats and progressive organizations:
State Rep. Rafael Anchia
State Rep. Carol Alvarado
Center for Public Policy Priorities
State Rep. Garnet Coleman
State Rep. Joe Deshotel
Congressman Lloyd Doggett
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes
State Senator Rodney Ellis
State Rep. and MALC Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
TDP Chair Gilberto Hinojosa
TDP Spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña
Congressman Silvestre Reyes
State Senator Carlos Uresti
State Senator Leticia Van De Putte
State Rep. Marc Veasey
Click "There's More" and see what they had to say about this historic ruling.
Republican Speaker Joe Strauss continues to show that he picked the right puppet to spearhead the Texas GOP's efforts to disenfranchise elderly, veteran, minority, and low-income Texans from voting. Todd Smith, the flip-flopping legislator who Chairs the Elections Committee, is set to push his Party's highly partisan voter suppression legislation in 2011 should Republicans control the House in 2011.
"It may not receive attention in the press because of competition from other issues, but in terms of the extent of the contention on the issue itself among the parties or the members, I don't see it as being dramatically different," Smith said.
Oh Smith, things are drastically different this cycle. The fact that Texas is in an $18 billion dollar budget hole, with no Federal stimulus dollars set to bail you out this time, you and Rick Perry have a lot more pressing issues and policies to address than highly partisan legislation meant to address phantom issues fabricated to increase and prolong the GOP majority in Texas.
I could see a number of things the legislature could address that is far more important than political power grabs.
Let's start with the budget, shall we? How do you plan to address the CONSERVATIVE estimates of an $18 billion dollar shortfall in our fiscal state budget?
Novel idea for you and Joe Strauss. How about convincing Rick Perry to dump $9,999 in taxpayer funded rent for his mansion, his personal chef's (yes plural), and wine magazines for a quaint $1 a month home? That's just for starters.
Politico, a Washington-based newspaper and website, has put State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) on their list of "Ones to Watch Outside the Beltway."
The Politico article suggests what many Texas Democrats have been thinking for several years: that Anchia could be an excellent candidate for statewide office. Anchia has said he will run for re-election in 2010, but expect him to be the near the top of potential statewide candidates come 2014.
Anchia is part of a group of Democratic state representatives, many elected in 2002 and 2004, who have the political skills to be serious statewide candidates down the road. While none of them (unfortunately) are likely to run in 2010, they will give Democrats a strong bench for 2014 and beyond.
Anchia has to be doing something right to be included on the list with two other people, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and California Attorney General candidate Kamala Harris, who have previously received more national attention.
The true test of a politician is if they have the political Will to do what is right regardless of Party affiliation. In Todd Smith, it is confirmed, he lacks the political skin to be worthy of the honorable title of Texas State Representative. He is not capable of looking out for the interests of his constituents, let alone Texas. Time and again Smith proves that he will fold under intense political pressure.
As expected, and called out by the Matt Angle at the Lone Star Project, we at Burnt Orange Report, and Texas Democrats in general, Smith has folded like a house of cards on Voter Identification---giving in to harsh partisan demands from his Republican colleagues and melting like warm butter under a hot Texas sun. Smith will bring forward the nasty, partisan Senate version of Voter Suppression legislation that is modeled after the Indiana-style bill that erects the largest of walls possible in limiting the right of Texans to vote. Smith adds another point of failure to a pathetic career as a legislator.
We at Burnt Orange Report have chronicled the political demise of Todd Smith since I called him out in 2007 on his original Voter ID vote, claiming he did so because he was "Republican." Then, with a new speaker this session, Smith managed to climb himself out of the political doghouse, being passed up for other plum committee assignments to instead carry the partisan pale known as Voter Suppression as Election Committees Chair. Despite hearing time and again from his constituents this session, even when attempting to have secret Town Halls that he really didn't want his constituents to attend, House District 92 residents showed up in mass and told Smith to do something about their electric bills, escalating insurance rates, and make college education affordable again---just leave their sacred right to vote alone.
So the questions we all have on our minds right now is will the 81st legislative session end in a crisis in leadership as the 80th legislative session did under Tom Craddick? Will Speaker Straus get weak in the knees like Todd Smith and be railroaded by partisan hacks or do what is right for Texas? Stay tuned.