Today, Wendy Davis made clear that she's still fighting for education in Texas by filing two bills today to restore $6.5 billion in funds cut from our public schools.
SB 1047 increases per-student state funding from $4,765 to $5,500. SB 1048 repeals the formula passed last session to artificially decrease the funding for schools. Both bills are critical to undoing the harm Republicans perpetrated on the schoolchildren of Texas, by restoring the cuts that we all know weren't necessary in 2011. The cuts to education were so draconian that the school finance system has been ruled unconstitutional.
It just goes to show, you can't keep a great senator down -- not when the future of Texas is depending on her.
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst may have removed stalwart education champion Senator Wendy Davis from the Senate education committee, but that hasn't stopped her from continuing her all-out push to restore funding to public education.
Davis filibustered the end of the 2011 session in an attempt to block the legislation Republicans used to cut $5.4 billion dollars from our Texas public schools.
The full release from Davis's office is below the jump.
And by the way, Republicans? In case you're curious, this is what real leadership on the most critical issues facing our state looks like.
The State Senate drew straws yesterday to determine if each has a 2 or 4 year term before running for re-election. This is customary after an election following a redistricting year in which all Senators must run.
The draw has some major implications for our 2014 statewide races here in Texas on both sides of the aisle, starting, of course, with State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, a tireless campaigner who drew a 2-year term.
Many Democrats were eyeing Davis as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2014 owing to her fundraising prowess and staunch support of education. Had Davis drawn a 4-year term, thus giving her a "free pass" to run statewide in 2014 without giving up her senate seat, she would have had tremendous encouragement to take the leap and run for governor. Now, her decision becomes somewhat more complicated.
Here are the results from SD-10 in the 2010 and 2008 statewide elections, courtesy of the Texas Legislative Council:
2010 Results in SD-10 38.9% Turnout
Governor Rick Perry: 52.7%
Bill White: 44.6%
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst: 58.2%
Linda Chavez-Thompson: 38.8%
2008 Results in SD-10 66.4% Turnout
President John McCain: 52.1%
Barack Obama: 47.1%
US Senate John Cornyn: 52.1%
Rick Noriega: 46%
Davis won election in 2008 by 2.4% over a Republican incumbent, and won re-election in 2012 by 2.3% over a former State Representative.
Below the jump, find out why Democrats should still be optimistic about Davis in 2014, and what the implications are for the Republicans.
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In today's video, Senator Wendy Davis discusses the importance of early voting and casts her ballot at the Southwest Sub-Courthouse in Fort Worth. Senator Davis is one of many Democratic leaders this election season who is emphasizing the importance of voting early.
No surprise here: State Senator Wendy Davis has been named to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee's 2012 Essential Races List. The only Democrat from Texas to make the list, Davis is recognized for her filibuster against the Republicans' $5 billion cuts to public education.
Why this Race Matters: This has been described as the race to watch in Texas politics right now. Both literally and figuratively, Senate District 10 is bigger than any congressional race, and it even rivals some Texas statewide contests in terms of profile. That's because Democratic Senator Wendy Davis is seen as the only thing preventing a GOP super-majority in the Texas Senate, which is one of the few legislative chambers that preserve a form of the filibuster to protect minority interests. Davis herself used it to oppose harsh education cuts, an act that instantly made her the Texas GOP establishment's top target.
Davis's race is an absolute must-win, not only to prevent the extremist Republicans in the Senate from gaining a super-majority and rendering the 2/3rds rule irrelevant, but also to keep a staunch advocate for families and children, education, healthcare, and budgetary honesty working for the people of Tarrant County and Texas.
First on the list is Senator Wendy Davis, representing Fort Worth in SD-10. Davis is in a tough re-election race, and squeaked through with under 50% of the vote in 2008. She is a champion of public education and healthcare, and stood firm in support of funding our public schools. Davis staged a late-night filibuster at the end of last session in an attempt to stop $5 billion in cuts from our public schools. She also filed "Texas Jobs First" legislation to help Texans big for state contracts.
She's being challenged by a Republican pediatrician, Dr. Mark Shelton, who ironically has voted against families and public health at almost every opportunity as a State Representative. Today, Davis was endorsed by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, a huge boost for her campaign against Shelton. Senator Davis is our crucial 12th vote in the Senate. We must return this tremendous leader to the Legislature in January, where she can fight Republican extremism and advocate for sound policies that benefit all Texans.
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Today, Incumbent Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth received the endorsement of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians. Calling her "a tireless advocate for physicians and patients," the TAFP endorsed Sen. Davis over her Republican challenger Dr. Mark Shelton, a pediatrician who has worked at Cook Children's Hospital for more than 20 years.
Texas Academy of Family Physicians is a major endorsement for Senator Davis because it is Texas' largest physician specialty organization. Sen. Davis has previously been honored as the recipient of the 2012 Texas Women's Health Champion Award from the Texas Association of OB-GYNs for standing up for women's health and the needs of Texas families.
"Sen. Davis has championed access to health care and growing our physician workforce because she understands that a healthy Texas means a healthy and competitive economy," said Dr. Joane Baumer, M.D., a TAFP member and Fort Worth physician. "Family physicians are supporting Sen. Wendy Davis because she has been a steadfast advocate for doctors and for all patients."
In receiving the endorsement, Sen. Davis said that "a healthy, competitive workforce ensures our economic prosperity and protects our families. I'm honored that the work I've done on behalf of doctors and patients has earned this prestigious endorsement."
Dr. Shelton has put his practice and background in medicine front and center in his campaign, using the slogan "The Doctor We Trust, The Conservative Leader We Need" on his campaign materials and his title in his website URL at www.DRmarkshelton.com. It would appear that he's not the Doctor that the Texas Academy of Family Physicians "trusts" in the Texas Senate.
The assailant assumed responsible for yesterday's attack on the office of State Senator Wendy Davis has been arrested. The following statement was released from the Senator's office.
Senator Wendy Davis today praised the actions of the Fort Worth Fire and Police departments that led to the arrest of a suspect in the firebombing of the Senate District 10 office in Fort Worth on Tuesday.
Davis said she is thankful that quick actions by a Senate staff member helped prevent any injuries or serious damage to the office building. Two Senate staffers were inside the office when several Molotov cocktails were left at the office door, blocking the exit with waist-high flames. Senator Davis was not in the office at the time of the attack.
"We do not know what motivated this violent incident, but this highlights the risk that we all face in the public service arena while standing up for important issues, which sometimes lead to an unsavory dialogue in public discourse," Davis said.
As to the individual who was behind the attack?
"As we've been informed, the man who is accused of attacking our office is terribly troubled and has some mental health issues," Davis said. "My heart goes out to his family, who I understand from media reports, have tried hard to help him. I am hopeful this incident will lead to him receiving the mental health care services that he needs."
Cedric Steele, 40, was profiled by the Star-Telegram, largely based upon conversations with his brother. Steele suffers from mental illness and is homeless and it is doubtful that any specific political motivation was cause for the attack.
Steele said that although his brother has previously expressed anger at The Potter's House church in Dallas and at the Dallas Mavericks for reportedly dismissing ideas that he'd shared with them, Steele had never talked of any anger he might have held against Davis or any politician.
"I doubt if he's even watched TV to understand what her political views are or read about them," Curtis Steele said.
More likely, Curtis Steele said, his brother wanted to discuss a discovery or idea he considered "brilliant."
An arrest warrant affidavit released Wednesday said Steele had left part of a dead animal at Davis' office during a recent visit, "stating it was a new species and wanted the senator to see it."
"His mind has sent him to believe he's made this miraculous discovery or come up with a great idea. He tries to pass it off to the highest level he could reach to help channel his idea. If whoever it was didn't receive him the way he thought he should be received, that triggers the rage or anger," Curtis Steele said.
Reading his profile is somewhat disheartening as it highlights the lack of services being made available to those in his situation.
Last night, the District office of State Senator Wendy Davis was firebombed. A sole male assailant threw two molotov cocktails at the door of the office, which caused the damage seen at right. A staff member extinguished the fire. Read our coverage of the attack here.
For those of you not familiar with Wendy Davis, she is a crucial member of the Democratic Senate caucus.
Here's a quick primer on Wendy Davis, why she might have been the target of this attack, and how you can help her right now:
Davis' victory in 2008, ousting Republican Kim Brimer, gave the Democrats a 12th seat in the upper chamber. That's crucial, because the rules of the Senate -- specifically the two-thirds rule -- dictate that at least 21 of the 31 member body must vote to suspend the rules and pass legislation. Davis gave us a stalwart Democratic vote in a chamber where our members haven't always stuck together on crucial issues.
Davis is an unabashed champion for education and women's health. In the 2011 session, she filibustered the education bill until the clock ran out on the regular session, thus forcing Perry to call a special session. The Fort Worth Star-Telegramreported last Thursday that Texas Republicans have recently escalated their rhetorical attacks on Davis, "apparently for thinking Texas should rank higher than 49th in funding public schools." She is also a strong supporter of women's health and family planning, voted against the mandatory sonogram bill, and speaking out in favor of Planned Parenthood and against the state's efforts to shut down the provider.
Davis' SD-10 was the target of redistricting chicanery by the Republicans to draw her out of her district by gerrymandering the 10th until it was unwinnable by a Democrat. Davis prevailed in redistricting litigation, as all sides in the Senate map settled on a district very similar to the one in which she won with 49.91% of the vote. Her victory in the courts stemmed from proving that the Republican legislature intentionally fragmented the minority coalition that makes up her Fort Worth district, specifically to prevent a diverse community of Hispanic, African-American, and cross-over Anglo (i.e. White Democratic) voters from electing a Democrat.
SD-10 is the only competitive Senate race for the Democrats this year. It is the only potential loss, and the only Republican pick-up opportunity. Republicans would love to get rid of Wendy Davis, a rising star in the state, an Anglo female Democrat, an outspoken supporter of public education, an advocate for women's health.
These attacks on public servants are an outrage. No matter the party, no matter the ideological position, no elected official or their hard-working staff members should ever be the target of this kind of attack. Molotov cocktails are not an acceptable form of political speech in America.
What You Can Do To Help Wendy Davis:
1. Send a note of support to Davis and her staff. Her office staff will pass on your messages of support. You can email her at her Senate office at wendy.davis(at)senate.state.tx.us. Let's make sure they know we're incensed by this attack on a public servant, and that we appreciate all the good work Senator Davis does for the people of Texas.
2. Sign up to help her re-election race. Visit Davis's campaign website and sign up. This is going to be a very close race, and it's crucial for folks who can give their time do so to re-elect this important Democratic officeholder.
Let's show Senator Davis -- and those who perpetrate these awful attacks -- that we've got her back.
She's always stood up for our values, and now that her office has been the target of a attack, let's show her that we're still standing strong behind this stalwart Democratic leader.
Update 12:47 p.m. -- Thanks to everyone who was so generous in their support of Sen. Davis. A news update from the Statesman tells us that the suspect is a homeless man who had previously visited the office. We hope this wasn't a politically motivated attack.
In the meantime, you can visit Wendy Davis's website HERE.
At around 4 PM this afternoon, just before the close of the workday, the Fort Worth office of Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis was targeted with two molotov cocktails by a sole male assailant. The Sentator was not in the office at the time. Two staff members were inside when they heard the crash against the main doorway which caught on fire. They extinguished it on site but the damage is clearly evident in pictures taken by Anthony Spangler.
The Senator's office has called for a press conference at her district office as of 8:45 PM. As soon as we have her statement we will update this post.
Bud Kennedy posts the first video of her news conference.
8:33 a.m. Update:
The Star-Telegramreports that a suspect was arrested last night:
The suspect was picked up about 11 p.m. on Tuesday, said Capt. Tom Crow, fire department spokesman. The suspect was detained just hours after a staffer at Davis' office used a fire extinguisher to put out a small fire with waist high flames. No injuries were reported in the fire, but the incident was "alarming and very scary," Davis said Tuesday night at a news conference outside the office on West Seventh Street. A building maintenance worker chased a man but could not catch him, authorities said. Investigators did not have a description of the man and could not confirm reports that the devices were Molotov cocktails, Crow said.
But it's arguably worth mulling precisely because Democrats lack top-of-the-ballot heft. That is, few credible aspirants for statewide nonjudicial posts, outside of governor, have emerged.
So I'd start by penciling in Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa of McAllen for state agriculture commissioner, Sen. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville for land commissioner, Sen. Royce West of Dallas for attorney general, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio for state comptroller and Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo for lieutenant governor.
And to spice up the governor's race, I'd coax in youthful first-term Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth or nudge in Sen. Mario Gallegos of Houston to age the field.
In fairness to Selby he did admit this scenario "might be wacky." I agree, it is, but kudos for thinking outside the box; although we all have heard at least some of these senators listed as possible candidates for statewide office before. But I would cross Davis, who just added an award from the Texas Municipal League to her 81st legislative trophy cabinet this week, off any list for statewide office.
By no means do I say that because Senator Davis is incapable of being a fine candidate for statewide office---quite the opposite in fact. Wendy Davis is an outstanding person and a well credentialed politician that would make a formidable candidate statewide; however, it is way too soon for her to show aspirations beyond seeking another full-term to represent Senate District 10 in 2012. I do believe that female candidates, whether Democrat or Republican, do quite well in Texas. Davis has a great resume to boot and many 81st legislative accomplishments to tout on the campaign trail. But if she were to run statewide, and lose, her constituents in Tarrant County are very likely to strike her with the hex of, "ambitious beyond taking care of the needs of her constituents in senate district 10." That would be an ugly campaign mailer by her opponent.
Thanks for the idea, Gardner, but Tarrant County will keep Senator Davis all to ourselves---for now.