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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


TX GOP Agrees: Texas Will Be a Battleground State

Battleground Texas logo photo BattlegroundTexaslogo_zps8a701385.jpg

In Finally Something We Agree On, Battleground Texas just posted an audio clip of Steve Munisteri, the Texas GOP chair, speaking to the newly created “Battlefield Dallas” group. If y’all think that name sounds a bit familiar, just wait til you hear the clip, which I have transcribed for those who can’t listen at the moment (my emphasis):

Have any of you heard of this group, Battleground Texas? Raise your hands.

Okay, I want all of you to know that I have also heard of it. So I think it will save us a lot of time if you don’t call the state party to ask if we know about it.

In fact, I have threatened to have a new fundraising program that for everybody who calls to say, “Steve, have you heard about the Democrats, what are we doing about it?” … you have to pay a dollar. I think if we do that, we could raise a lot of money.

Folks, yes, we know about them. Isn’t it going to be nice that instead of Texans having to go to Ohio and Florida to have the action, I like the fact Texas is going to be a battleground. I like the fact that we don’t have to go out of state any more. The eyes of the nation will be on our state. And as our state goes, our entire country goes.

Now, some people are scared of that. But I take that, embrace it, and say, “What a wonderful opportunity for every one of us to help decide the direction of our country,” and that can start right here today.

It sounds as though Battleground Texas has Republicans worrying. A lot. And Munisteri has now conceded that Texas is going to be a battleground state, which is quite a turnaround from the Republicans’ attitude toward this effort back in January:

Republican strategist Dave Carney, who has worked extensively in Texas and steered Perry’s 2010 reelection, dismissed Democratic claims that a brand-new voter mobilization project would help transform the state. He called it a matter of “consultants coming up with a project to get paid.”

“The more money they spend on [Battleground Texas], the better it is for Texas and the taxpayers of Texas, because it will basically lead to continued conservative dominance of the state. There’s a reason voters are low-propensity voters. They don’t vote,” Carney said.

We already know that Munisteri is confident that the Republicans have considerably more money to spend here (my emphasis):

“They talk about they’re going to be putting tens of million into Battleground Texas,” said Munisteri. “If there ever were a significant threat because somebody put $20 million in, our business community would probably spend that on Republicans by a factor of several-fold; $75 million was raised just from Texas for Romney. None of that money was spent in the state. Over a six-year period, the RNC raised $41 million in Texas and spent about $400,000. Those dollars can easily flow back the other way if we need them, so if they spend $10 million, we can spend $100 million.”

If so, for a national Democratic donor that would mean for every dollar spent in Texas, Republicans would spend $10, money they wouldn’t be spending elsewhere. That’s not a bad return on investment.

They’re going to outspend us. So be it. Our side has people who were fired up and ready to go in both 2008 and 2012. And that’s not just some meaningless slogan-at a brunch yesterday honoring Democratic women in Galveston County, Jenn Brown, BGTX’s Executive Director, emphasized the number of Texans who volunteered in battleground states during the last two presidential elections, as well as the remarkably high level of energy and enthusiasm she has encountered all around our state during the past few months.

Texas Matters: Senate Passes Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Late last night, the Texas Senate finally passed House Bill 950, a state version of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. TX State Rep. Senfronia Thompson photo RepSenfroniaThompson_zps8bbb0ebc.jpg Authored by Democratic state Rep. Senfronia Thompson (HD-141), who has served for four decades and is a force to be reckoned with, HB 950

clarifies that pay discrimination claims based on “sex, race, national origin, age, religion and disability” accrue whenever an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck. Under the measure, a 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit resets with each new discriminatory paycheck.

The bill passed after two Republicans weakened amended it:

One change to the bill, made by state Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, would limit the equal protection rights to wages, and not to benefits or other compensation. Another change came from state Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, and it would require that the act apply only to claims that occur on or after the law takes effect in September.

Every Democratic legislator in the House and the Senate voted for HB 950, but many Republican lawmakers did not. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just Republican men who voted against equal pay for Texas women. Katherine Haenschen at the Burnt Orange Report sums up the situation:

What’s most appalling to me is the number of Republican women who voted against letting other women address gender-based pay discrimination. Jane Nelson, Joan Huffman, Cindy Burkett, Stefani Carter, Angie Chen Button, Myra Crownover, Marsha Farney, Susan King, Stephanie Klick, Lois Kolkhorst, Jodie Laubenberg, and Geanie Morrison — what the heck is wrong with you?! Do you really not recognize that women are paid less than men? Have y’all had such rarefied or willfully ignorant experiences that you don’t realize the need for this legislation? (I don’t understand the pathology of women who vote Republican anyways, but this seems like an extra dose of Stockholm syndrome here.)

When conservative Republican men can vote for this bill — whether for craven political reasons or out of a genuine concern for economic fairness, on some levels it matters not, seeing as the bill passed — and a bunch of professional, successful women serving in our Legislature cannot, these women need to reevaluate their decision-making criteria.

Equal Work Deserves Equal Pay! photo equalpaysign_zps12c10cec.jpg

Here’s a fact that should have gotten the attention of more Texas GOP lawmakers, especially the women. Based on reports in the 2012 Census, Texas women outvoted men by approximately 625,000.

Selected Voter Turnout Data for Texas (in thousands)

Texas (Citizen) Total Citizen Population Percent Registered Percent Voted

Now obviously not all women vote for Democrats, but State Senator Wendy Davis (SD-10) was re-elected in 2012 in part because of a gender turnout gap that had women in her district outvoting men at a greater level than in Texas overall.

When HB 950 gets to his desk, Republican Governor Rick Perry should not be afraid to sign this bill. After all, businesses get to decide whether or not to pay all of their employees fairly:

“Employers who are doing the right thing and treating women fairly don’t view this bill as a threat,” said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “Equal pay decisions should be made in the CEO’s office rather than a courtroom.”

And regarding the Republican women who voted against equal pay for equal work, many working women and those who care about them might be inclined, as Haenschen at the BOR was, to recall former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s saying:

“I think there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Texas Matters: Game On

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Trying to top last Saturday-“Gun Day”-which the Texas House spent passing 12 firearms bills in a transparent effort to pander to the NRA, the 83rd TX Legislative Session has now protected the rights of professional Santas to visit children in public schools again. And I’m not even going to try to list the ridiculous antics of Texas Republican politicians here and in Washington, DC.

I applied for and have now accepted a Battleground Texas Summer Fellowship. Are you fed up enough to apply as well? To attend a 1 1/2 hour training to become a Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar for your county? Or to call Democratic supporters to let them know about BGTX?

After traveling around the state and meeting with 3500 activists, Battleground Texas is now scheduling Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar (VDVR) trainings in many counties. The Austin American-Statesman has published an excellent and lengthy update: Battleground Texas wraps up 1st phase; now hard part begins:

“Texans are so excited, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before,” said Battleground Texas’ executive director, Jenn Brown, the 31-year-old community organizer from Southern California who ran Obama’s field operation in indispensable Ohio in 2012. “Texans are ready. It’s time.”