On Unexpected Opportunities, Or, Wanna Win Texas?

Every logical bone in every D body tells us Texas is enemy territory.

Texas voted for Mr. Bush over Kerry 61% to 38%. The state is so R they didn’t even bother to count Ron Paul’s votes in Texas 14, as he ran unopposed.

The Governor is primarily known for his ineptitude and that classic nickname: Rick “Goodhair” Perry (modified by Molly Ivins to “The Coiffure” in 2006).

Texas Lege veteran Warren Chisum has recently been linked to the “Non-moving Earth” movement (all Copernicus, no Galileo on that site, I might add), which may or may not be an effort to distract from his record, and he’s not even on his best form here.

In this story Chisum proposes diverting cash the State currently gives to poor families (the TANF program) into a “Healthy Marriage Initiative” that hopes to solve the biggest problem facing impoverished Texas families-poverty-through an ad campaign promoting marriage.

Texas does things big, and so it is with Legislative redistricting. You’ll recall D legislators actually fled the State to try to prevent the important votes on the issue.

None of this looks good for Ds who want to chalk up a big “W” in the ’08 Presidential. But perhaps all is not lost.

sarantx, over at the John Edwards site, points us to a trail that leads to State Senator Eliot Shapleigh’s “Texas On The Brink” report. A quick look at sarantx’s post and you see the troubles with Texas might just be self-inflicted.

Interestingly, it’s a particularly tough place to be living and female-near highest birth and cervical cancer rates, yet near the bottom in health care and wealth (only 6 other states had more women below the poverty line).

Now here’s the good news. Voter registration for Texas women is 43rd of the 50 states, and turnout is 49th (41.7% average turnout 1998-2000). The State estimates that in 2005 there were 11,513,750 Texas women, which suggests 6.7 million females of voting age did not vote. What was the difference between Mr. Bush and Kerry in Texas in 2004? 1,692,768 votes. That’s pretty good news.

That’s potential.

How might we harvest some of those 6.7 million potential votes?

I have some ideas.

Anyone here following the story of the Texas Youth Commission raise your hands. OK, for the rest of you, I’ll work backwards. The Superintendent of the Ayers halfway house was arrested for shredding documents March 9th. On March 7th the Texas Rangers, among others, had to be called in to take over another State agency’s jail operations, and this seems to have occurred because the employees of that agency were a danger to the minors in their care (that’s right-the inmates were happy to be involved in a police raid).

There are more than 750 allegations of sexual abuse, and they emanate from every single one of the State’s juvenile detention facilities. Apparently these folks adopted a unique interpretation of “No Child Left Behind”.

A Lege-appointed committee asked for the resignation of the Board of the Commission during their first meeting. When the Board declined, Senate Bill 1921 was introduced to do it for them. The Governor has a representative involved now as well.

It appears there were at least two years of warnings which were ignored by the TYC management and the Governor's Administration.

And much like Mark Foley in ’06, there’s a huge R hypocrisy issue here that can be used to start a dialogue.

How many mothers would support abusing a child?

How many mothers want their State abusing children?

What “Messes With Texas” more than an ongoing policy of covering up child rape?

And there’s the first opening to get the Rs out of office.

We need to change-for the kids.

“How long do you want to keep paying taxes to have our kids abused in our town/county/State?” “Don’t our kids deserve not to be messed with again?”

There’s a national issue that can be addressed, as well. This is where you point out that unless we treat our veterans (and Texas is a State full of current and future veterans) better; it will be the husbands and children of Texas women who will suffer.

These are two great issues to rally around.

Start targeting women Sunday after church. Start going to the beauty parlor, and grocery stores and getting women registered. Are you a Texas high school student? Why not do a registration drive at the football games this fall? Target the moms in the crowd particularly, as women are the group least likely to be registered.

Get the female seniors in your school registered as well, now and next year. They likely know someone who can tell a story just like the stories in the news, and they probably want change.

The message here should be empowerment-invite women to take control of the process of creating their own power, to organize the campaign; and (are you listening D Party?) that Ds will spend the money now to get this on the way, for the sake of Texas women. And their kids.

Just as the Hillary/Apple internet ad was cheap and amazingly effective, a few copies of Final Cut Pro and access might get this movement even more push, with a neighbor to neighbor element that will play well in the State.

By the way, any fellas reading this? You could be improving the lives of potential woman voters at beaches across the State as a Volunteer Deputy Registrar bearing a message of empowerment this summer. How’s that for doing a public service?

Remember-there is more effort involved in getting non-voters to the polls, but the results are worth it. A recently empowered voter will likely vote again-ask D voters from ‘06 if they are likely ’08 voters. I’ll bet the “yes” answer is well above 50%. I submit you’ll see the same here-if women feel they can really make a difference in the lives of their kids, it makes a committed voter.

So let’s sum it all up.

Texas is a tough nut to crack, but the chance may be there at last.

Capturing 25% of non-voting Texas women would have changed the ’04 results to a D victory, with no other changes in voting patterns.

There are two issues that could create an outrage vote-just as in ’06. (Unless Tom DeLay runs again-then there’s three…)

Investment in tools to get Texas women and their neighbors registered to vote, and involved in D campaigns, could pay off big time-but the effort needs to start now. A D victory in ’08 will be based on success in ’07.

If we get lucky, we just might get another Ann Richards out of the deal, too.

If we can pull that off, even the Dixie Chicks will be proud of Texas again.

Comments

you bet you could...

...this could easily be framed as "moms for the kids and vets dole forgot."

again, the key is voter registration this summer, and building a working community of these newly empowered women through the fall and winter.

presumably you find a specific goal, then show some power in the legislature early next year to achieve it, and you have a battle-hardened constituency waiting for candidates for fall '08, who could potentially be available for other appealing candidates beyond that.

a more complete story to follow.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

done and done...

...have a peek here, if you will...

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

I Follow Texas News

I still have friends there. (Man, am I glad I moved)

"She was elected state treasurer in 1982, the first woman to hold statewide office in years."

That's who she was while I was there. I was dang glad to see her go further. Bet she's missed. A lot.

Someone like her could take out Libby in a heatbeat. Ann was real people.

Any suggestions who? Really. I am so new to NC politics I don't know who's who. A lot of us transplants don't. I hope ya'll don't forget that.

just a quick note to let you know...

...i referenced you in my diary here

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965