Republicans in the Texas legislature rammed through a racist and ultra-partisan redistricting map that packs as many Democrats as they could into a new Austin district with the intent of protecting Republican incumbents in surrounding area by removing Democratic voters.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the district can now support a fiery progressive fighter, not a namby-pamby Democratic careerist. Blue America and several others have been urging Julie Oliver, who lives in the new district, to run for the open seat. She hasn’t said no, but she is very committed to the organizing work she and Mike Siegel are doing now.
One of the problems in Texas is that incumbents in safe blue districts don’t do any organizing. Most don’t do a thing to encourage turnout in their districts. Had they, Biden may well have won Texas last year.
Let me show you what I mean. Candidates focused on turnout last year wound up with more voters than many of the incumbents. Half a dozen hard working challengers (all in red districts):
Wendy Davis‘ campaign turned out 205,776 Democratic voters- R+5
Mike Siegel’s campaign turned out 187,686 Democratic voters- R+5
Lulu Seikaly’s campaign turned out 179,458 Democratic voters- R+6
Donna Imam’s campaign turned out 176,293 Democratic voters- R+6
Sri Kulkarni’s campaign turned out 175,738 Democratic voters- R+4
Julie’s campaign turned out 165,697 Democratic voters- R+8
Half a dozen lazy incumbents (all in blue districts):
Marc Veasey- just 105,317 voters- D+23
Silvia Garcia- just 111,305 voters- D+19
Filemon Vela- just 111,439 voters- D+5
Vicente Gonzalez- just 115,605 voters- D+3
Henry Cuellar- just 137,494 voters- D+5
Lizzie Fletcher- just 159,529 voters- D+1
I asked how these disappointing numbers in the blue districts can be dealt with. Meanwhile, I have a warm, strong feeling Julie’s going to make a big announcement tomorrow.
Please let’s help her turn Texas blue by contributing to Ground Game Texas, the political action committee she and Mike Siegel are running.
Just click the Take Back Texas thermometer on the right, and give what you can.
BECAUSE– If Texas turns blue, the Republicans no longer have a path to victory in presidential elections.
Building A Political Infrastructure In Texas
-by Julie Oliver
In what were once two reliably “red” states, we saw the manifestation of intentional, thoughtful, and strategic organizing– both states went for Biden in the 2020 election, and in early 2021, Georgia elected two Democratic Senators in a historic election. In fact, after my 2020 congressional election loss, I drove to Georgia to canvass for Warnock and Ossoff’s runoff races.
It’s what renewed my hope in my home state of Texas– a state that saw heartbreaking losses up and down the ballot when the nation’s eyes were set upon us. I knew that we could follow the leads of Georgia and Arizona, but doing so would require commitments to engage voters on a consistent and year-round basis.
In fact, the work that Mike Siegel and I are doing now through Ground Game Texas is geared to year-round organizing and getting young voters and nonvoters engaged in the electoral process through popular, direct-democracy ballot initiatives.
It’s what other nonprofits are doing around our state as well. Many nonprofits in our state are committed to getting the millions of eligible Texans registered to vote, and yet other nonprofits help get folks trained and ready to testify at the Capitol during legislatives sessions or trained to conduct deep canvassing within their communities. Most of these nonprofits have been doing this work in the aftermath of a Trump presidency, and few have been doing this work for 10 years or more. Texas is a big state, and we need all-hands-on-deck approach to win.
So why didn’t we gain any seats in Texas? A post-mortem report by the Texas Democratic Party found that most candidates across the state focused efforts and attention on Democrats who were already going to vote, and very little work was done connecting with infrequent voters and young voters. Last November, 5.6 million registered Texans did not vote, and at least another 2 million eligible Texans were not registered to vote.
The most effective means of getting folks to vote is to consistently engage with the electorate. While I believe we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to make inroads and build infrastructure in Texas (and I’m grateful for the nonprofits doing this work), a number of our safe congressional Democrats are not participating in building the lasting infrastructure our state needs to model the gains of Arizona and Georgia. Prior to redistricting, Texas had 36 congressional seats, and in the November 2020 election, all of Texas’ eleven safe Democratic seats found themselves in the bottom third in terms of turnout; nine of those eleven seats found themselves in the bottom third in terms of voter registration rates. Congressional safe seats that span dense areas of Dallas and Tarrant counties had lower Democratic turnout than the gerrymandered seats that radiated out of Austin and were drawn to favor Republicans.
It appears that once a primary concludes, safe Democrats are not investing in the general elections, which in turn leaves hundreds of thousands of votes on the table. Instead they stockpile campaign cash for their re-elections and neglect field work and infrastructure building within their communities and the state. We must hold our congressional leaders not only accountable as they legislate, but also as candidates of campaigns that could do a tremendous amount of good in building the sustainable, year-round political infrastructure our state needs, or we risk failing to deliver our 40 electoral college votes to a Democratic president and failing to elect a Democrat to a statewide seat.