Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dewhurst Announces Preparations for Texas Second Special Session

If you have a pulse and follow politics in Texas, you know by now that the second Special Session begins Monday afternoon at 2:00pm.  The first item on the agenda will be called SB1 and it will be the failed SB5 re-introduced.  There are two other bills that will be part of the second Special Session but they both have solid bi-partisan support, unlike the newly named SB1.  Therefore, to help in the strategy to and not allow a repeat of the end of the first Special Session, SB1 will be the pro-life omnibus bill and it will be filed Monday.  The bills will most likely be heard on the floor July 8 and 9.

I heard about this on a conference call Sunday afternoon with Lt Gov Dewhurst and frankly, I was happy to hear that plans were in the works to avoid the problems presented in the last special session.

We see Texas Senator being lauded in the media by the media - all of whom have a real agenda to report only like-minded abortion stances in a professional, unbiased way - and we also now know that the mob chaos that broke out at the end of session last Tuesday night was arranged by "international Socialist groups", as Lt Gov Dewhurst said.  Even the New York Times admits groups like Planned Parenthood were surprised to have other outside professional agitators, the likes of the Occupy groups included.  

This time around, however, the Lt Governor is working with DPS and planning for a strong security presence. He encouraged those on the conference call to avoid being dragged into arguments, should the listeners be in Austin during the session.  "They love to provoke." 

The points of the bill missed by the reporting by the national media because the narrative that abortion will be illegal in Texas is more explosive is that this bill protects the health of women seeking abortion and honors the latest research that fetal pain is felt at five months.  Currently the law allows abortion up to six months in Roe v Wade.  Dewhurst thinks the Texas bill will survive Constitutional challenges with the fetal pain language inclusion.  

What needs to be stressed as the bill moves forward is that regulations will be put in place to prevent hideous abuses like with the Gosnell infanticide horrors and Houston's own butcher stories.  Women would go to surgical clinic settings instead of those stand alone storefronts that are unwilling or unable to make the changes.  This protects the lives of women, it doesn't deny rights.  

"At the end of the day, we ought to be treating all clinics the same whether taking out tonsils or performing abortions", said Dewhurst.

These are a few points released by Lt Gov Dewhurst after the conference call:
Our pro-life bill, SB 1, is about protecting the health of Texas women and the preborn.

It breaks my heart that over 70,000 women have abortions in Texas each year.  Based on medical journals, roughly 1 in 20 women experience complications during the surgical procedure, meaning more than 2,500 Texas women are at risk in a given year.

Shouldn’t all clinics meet the same medical standards, whether they are removing a child’s tonsils, or performing an abortion?

If abortion facility owners won't spend a portion of their ill-gotten profits on treating women safely, they should be shut down.

In addition, this bill lowers the abortion threshold from 6 months to 5 months, which will save 350-400 Texas babies a year.

When we stand for life, we stand for Texas women and their babies!
One Republican legislator has volunteer his office to be used as a peaceful spot for bloggers and observers to come and charge up electronic devices or write for blogs.  Others will follow.  

Additional police has been called in for crowd control, though Dewhurst did not want to go into the numbers.  Though they thought they had an adequate number of officers last Tuesday, the fact that 7,000 people came into the Capitol overwhelmed them. Dewhurst says that will not happen this time.  He likened the mob scene to that of the disruptions at the capitol in Wisconsin.  Dewhurst said that though stairwells were full of protesters Tuesday night, "that will not happen again" and that there will be "crowd control outside and inside." He will read a statement on the rules of strict enforcement often, so that the observers will be well informed. "We will not have international Socialist movements interrupt our legislature." 

Politics, Texas style.

Battleground Texas Engages in First Weekend of Action

This arrived in my inbox this week, as I continue to monitor the workings of Battleground Texas in Harris County:

Karen --

This weekend, Battleground Texas organizers are getting together at events across the state to register voters and train new volunteers.

It's our very first Weekend of Action, and there's an event near you in Houston -- can you make it?

Enter your zip to find the closest event, and then RSVP to join your neighbors this weekend.

If there's one thing the events of this week taught us -- it's that we can't stop organizing.

When neighbors reach out to neighbors -- and more and more Texans get involved in the democratic process -- we can change the face of politics in our state.

With the repeal of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and the egregious attacks on women's health, there's never been a more important time to get out in your community.

Look up and then RSVP for the event closest to you:
Texans are ready -- I hope you can make it.

So, I plugged in my own zip code and found four events planned within a radius of 10 miles from my home.  One was a voter registration drive listed from the past week, one is a voter registration drive this coming week, one is a neighborhood voter registration canvass for July 7th and a voter registrar training session on July 10th.

I noted a Facebook status from a friend that they are conducting voter registration at a Baptist church in the Hwy 290 area - suburbia.

Given the energy being harnessed after Wendy Davis' filibuster in favor for late term abortion in the first special session and the planning now being done to bus Davis supporters to Austin for the 2nd special session by the Harris County Democratic Party, the work from Team Obama in Harris County continues.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Big Obama Donor Tries to Block Keystone Pipeline XL

This is the fundraising letter sent by OFA on behalf of the President after he decided to rule the climate in the world by legislation.  He is fundraising through his own personal non-profit, which is a level not reached before in presidential governance.  

From: Barack Obama []
Sent: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 3:43 PM
Subject: XXXXXXX: What I need from you

XXXXXXX –I told Congress in February that if they didn’t take action to fight climate change, then I would.
Today, I announced a plan of action to make good on that promise.
My administration is taking steps to cut carbon pollution, prepare our nation for the unavoidable impact of climate change, and put America’s best and brightest to work to solve this issue on a global scale.
One thing we know is we’ll face a well-organized and well-financed opposition by the special interests that profit from keeping things the way they are — and there are members of Congress who fundamentally deny the science on this issue.
But we cannot stand by any longer.
Over the next few months and years, I’m going to need the millions of OFA supporters who understand that we have a responsibility to future generations to fight climate change to join me, and be a force of change in your communities.
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to take action — and now is the time.
Today, I’m here to tell you I am committed to doing my part.
Say you’ll do yours:
This email was sent to: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
If that is not your preferred email address, you can update your information here. We believe that emails are a vital way to stay in direct contact with supporters. Click here if you’d like to unsubscribe from these messages.
Organizing for Action, P.O. Box 66732 Washington, D.C. 20035

His level of arrogance is quite astounding.  First he tries to ram through cap and trade legislation and that failed.  Then he gave millions of dollars away to "green energy" companies - millions of dollars from taxpayers - to losing businesses.  We have yet to see success stories coming out of that venture.  Now that his utopia is stalled again, he has decided to do what he does best - govern by Executive Order.  You remember his criticisms of this use of power during the Bush administration, right? 

The Keystone Pipeline Project may or may not make it through during Obama's second term.  Who knows? He has it on the slow train to nowhere now and we are seeing stories that his big contributors are continuing to work against the project. 

A billionaire hedge fund manager and Barack Obama donor is pushing the president to stop the pipeline that would compete with one he's invested in. That pipeline could send Canadian oil to China.Environmental activist Tom Steyer donated as much as he could to get Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey elected to the Senate in the recent special election to fill the seat vacated by now-Secretary of State John Kerry. He wanted another senator who's opposed to completing the Keystone XL pipeline that he says would be an environmental plague on the planet.

Hedge fund manager? Wait. Isn't that evil Wall Street that Obama so heavily demonized to ratchet up the base when he was shoving through bad economic measures during the non-recovery the country experienced during his first term?  Isn't that the evil Wall Street that Obama demonized Mitt Romney over? But wait, there's more!  Mr. Steyer made his fortune - wait for it - in oil and gas!  Yes. How's that for the kicker?

Steyer has mounted an extensive campaign to kill Keystone, yet he owes his personal fortune to a lifetime of investments in oil, gas and pipeline companies. He stands to reap another financial reward through the extensive investments his hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management, has made over the last 27 years in fossil fuel companies. These include holdings that could benefit from the blocking of the Keystone pipeline.
Can you say hypocrite?  Pretty easy for this guy to sit on his own personal fortune, thanks to fossil fuels, and then say we can't continue on with them.  Do as I say, not as I do.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dan Patrick Announces Run for Tx Lt Governor

I was unable to call into the conference call this morning but, as anticipated, Texas State Senator Dan Patrick has now announced his candidacy for Lt Governor.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Governor Perry Calls Second Special Session

As noted in my last post, the media at the capital in Austin were outright cheering on the crowd disrupting the end of the Special Session.  There is no doubt that there is no objectivity on the part of the press when it comes to abortion.  

These tweets were brought to my attention, sent out by a senior editor for Texas Monthly and book author:
5:28 PM - 26 Jun 13

And full disclosure: if asked to choose between decorum and my fellow Texans, I will choose Texans every time, on ANY issue.

And, as the midnight deadline drew near, as Senator Whitmire also did his part to egg on the crowd, this tweet from the journalist:
11:52 PM - 25 Jun 13

Keep cheering guys...down with decorum, up with Texas!

The media decided to anoint Senator Wendy Davis the savior of women who want to seek late term abortions at clinics with less than desirable standards of safety and care for the pregnant women. They don't need no stinkin' decorum.

This is the statement form Lt Governor Dewhurst at the end of Special Session #1:

"I am furious about the outcome of the final day of this Special Session, when an unruly, screaming mob using “Occupy Wall Street” tactics derailed legislation intended to protect the health of Texas women and their babies. An unconscionable series of delaying actions by the minority party and their allies placed SB 5 in direct jeopardy of death-by-filibuster upon its arrival in the Senate.  Pushing every parliamentary procedure to its limit, we passed SB 5 19-10, but the deafening roar from the gallery drowned out any possibility of adjourning with a signed bill. I pledge to Texas one thing: this fight is far from over."

Wednesday, Governor Perry called a second Special Session.  He listed these items on the agenda - SB5, Transportation Funding, and mandatory sentence of life with parole for capital felony committed by a 17 year old offender. The Special Session begins at 2:00 pm on Monday, July 1st.

The part that the far left and their willing lapdogs in the press forget to acknowledge is that the mob who disrupted the legislative process are not speaking for "the people" of Texas.  The elected officials on the floor of the senate were doing that.  That is their job.  The mob was representing a minority of people who will directly benefit from special interest agendas.  Money will be raised by politicians cashing in on this and poor Wendy Davis will either have to re-live her filibuster or be a mention in articles put out by her adoring press.

Tx Senator Wendy Davis Filibusters for Unsafe Abortion Practices

It was the filibuster that garnered national attention.  Texas Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat from the Fort Worth area, decided to raise her profile and put on a filibuster as the Texas legislature began its last day of Special Session.  

The hill on which she chose to die was to reject a senate bill that would require doctors that perform abortions to be properly licensed, credentialed to practice at nearby hospitals, and to perform late term abortions - those after 20 weeks - in a surgical facility.  

So, in the action that proved to escape the note of irony of a big government Democrat demanding less government regulation/intervention in medical proceedings for women, Wendy Davis was in the spotlight and the media darling Tuesday night.  Even President Obama succumbed to the urge to tweet his support:

Something special is happening in Austin tonight: http://OFA.BO/CBZ6c7 

Of course Barack Obama supports such action.  He thinks it is special to turn a blind eye to the atrocities of Gosnell-style clinics, one of which has been discovered right here in Houston.  He holds a trail of votes supporting late term abortions and of born alive infanticide support, too.  This is who he is.  The Democrats have laid bare the narrative that, as Hillary Clinton is fond of saying, they want abortions to be legal, safe and rare.  

Wendy Davis has been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor in recent weeks. There is little chance that a Democrat will be governor in 2014 but with the advances of groups like Battleground Texas enjoying full support from their friends in the media, Davis would naturally need to raise her name recognition across the state.  What better way than to bring in OFA groups, like Battleground Texas to turn the process into a feeding frenzy for the press?  They were only too happy to oblige.  

A friend noted a change in reporting by Austin media of Senator Davis and her tendency to grandstand:

"Texas Monthly, today: "After last night’s dramatic filibuster, read why we chose Senator Wendy Davis made our list of 10 Best Legislators of 2013."

Texas Monthly, last week: "While Davis sometimes couldn’t resist the urge to grandstand, she kept that impulse mostly in check as the session progressed, instead focusing her energies on compromise and bipartisanship."

Funny how that happens, right?  

Here is the thing- I support Senator Davis in carrying out her right to filibuster.  As a Republican, I also supported U.S. Senator Rand Paul when he filibustered over drones and surveillance in Washington.  I am a process person and I relish politicians who actually carry out the political process.  The problem with the filibuster today is that it is rarely carried out and when it is, it is not properly done.  During the filibuster process of Senator Davis, there was much grousing when she was instructed to follow the traditional process, like remain standing, for instance. Yes, filibusters are an exercise in endurance. That's the point. Politicians have gotten soft. I give her credit for the length of her filibuster and her stamina.

The real loser in this exercise is Lt. Governor Dewhurst.  As president of the senate, he was the one in charge.  He lost control towards the end, which was midnight Tuesday night.  The Special Session ended at midnight and while Democrats were running out the clock to block the vote on SB5, Dewhurst lost on strategy.  Instead of winding up the filibuster on procedural points earlier, he allowed it to drag on.  During that time, instead of two other important bills being brought for votes - those on transportation and juvenile justice - the time was all devoted to SB5.  

The stunning part of Dewhurst's failure to lead was brought to light when he allowed protesters in the gallery to derail the vote.  Using tactics similar to the unions in Wisconsin at their state house, the protesters yelled and chanted unchecked by security.  Security should have been there in advance - it was no secret that the protesters would be there and the filibuster was well publicized by all the usual groups in social media - and ready to clear the gallery when it all began.  

The vote was not taken until just before midnight and ended at 12:03 AM, which was past the end of the Special Session.  

So, no one won.  Women will still be subjected to taking a chance on an abortion performed in the last trimester of pregnancy by a doctor willing to snip or chop or just let a live birth die on a table.  Doctors who are not qualified to be credentialed at hospitals or surgery centers will continue to butcher the reproductive organs of young women.  

I say all of this as a Republican woman who is more libertarian on social issues than many within my party. I am old enough to remember when Roe v Wade became the law of the land.  I remember hearing of older sisters of friends traveling to another state to have an abortion when abortion was illegal in my state.  We now have technology that is far more advanced than in 1973 - the year of my high school graduation.  It all brings late term abortions into new territory.

This isn't an easy issue. I do think, in this instance, the Texas legislature lost an opportunity to vastly improve on the treatment of women in these circumstances.  I also think Wendy Davis and her cohorts in the Democratic party should be chastised for such cruel behavior all in the name of political expediency instead of touted as heroes by the media and other liberal politicians.  

Even if the bill had passed, the meme that all the abortions clinics in Texas would have to close was never reality.  To remain in business, the regulations for the safety of women would have to be implemented.  And, the notion that somehow women would not be able to get to such hospitals or surgery centers? Nonsense.  Women do it for all other medical care.  If abortion is viewed as a "health care" issue by proponents, then it should also be in a hospital setting.  That's just common sense. 

Unless, of course, it is just all about advancing a political agenda for the next election.

Friday, June 21, 2013

HCRP Precinct Chairs By the Numbers

I read some interesting statistics from the last election in Harris County and thought I would pass the numbers along.  This is information given to Precinct Chairs at the Executive Committee:

On November 6, there were 776 Polling Locations in Harris County.

318 Republican Precinct Chairs worked on November 6 either in their own precinct or another precinct.

58 Republican Precinct Chairs provided a replacement person to work.

There were 110 Republican Precinct Chairs who didn't work and the Party or County Commissioner had to find replacements for them.  This is in addition to the 292 Precincts where we don't have a Republican Precinct Chair to work on Election Day.

There were 88 Precincts with NO Republican representation.  20 of them with Republican Precinct Chairs.  (Let that one sink in for a moment.)

There were 598 votes with documented problems.

This report was submitted by Sharon Hicks, Harris County Republican Party Election Judge Coordinator.

Election Day, by the numbers.  This is a little window into a continuing problem felt on Election Day in Harris County.  We Republicans have to be better at organizing and working to keep the election process fair and running smoothly.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Republicans Note Historical Importance of Juneteenth

The month of June brings an important remembrance, that of Juneteenth.  Freedom Day.  It is the day when African American Texans learned that they were free on June 18, 1865.  

Republicans are rightfully noting the special day.  It was Texas Democrats that resisted the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln earlier, on September 22, 1862.  

Here is some history, as recounted by Republican Party of Harris County Chairman Woodfill:

Today is Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day. It's a Day of Remembrance for all Texans, but especially African American Texans.
It was on June 18, 1865 that a ship landed in Galveston with the news that the human scourge called slavery had been abolished.
Though Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863, it had minimal immediate effect on most slaves' day-to-day lives.
Texas Democrats resisted the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth commemorates June 18 and 19, 1865. June 18th is the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, 1865, while standing on the balcony of Galveston's Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of "General Order No. 3":

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves...
The Republican Party has been the party of freedom since its founding. In fact, the Republican Party's founding principle was to rid the nation of the human suffering caused when human beings are owned by other human beings.
However, the Democrat Party has fought the Republican Party every step of the way. From resisting abolition of slavery which led our nation into a Civil War, to establishing Jim Crow laws after the War had ended, to fighting the Freedom Amendments to the Constitution, Democrats have stood in the way of freedom.
I am proud to lead our party here in Harris County, Texas, not far from where General Granger set foot in Galveston to bring freedom.
However, our work is not done and we will not rest as a party until the current suffering and despair caused by Democrat Party policies is abolished for all Texans.
The tide is slowly turning. Democrats are switching to our party's growth, opportunity, freedom and prosperity agenda. Happy Juneteenth to all our African American brothers and sisters. Let freedom continue to ring!
Watch party-switcher Sen. Elbert Guillory's testimony:

Jared WoodfillChairman, Harris County Republican Party

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement in honor of Juneteenth. Sen. Cornyn is sponsoring a Senate resolution that recognizes the historic significance of Juneteenth Independence Day, and the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the State of Texas in 1865.
 “I join with all Texans in celebrating Juneteenth, an observance that began in our state, to commemorate the emancipation of all slaves in the United States.
 “As we mark this historic day, let us pay tribute to all the men and women who have fought and sacrificed to defend our values and ensure our freedom.”

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) reflects on the history of Frederick Douglass and the Republican Party:

And, I saved the best one for last.  This is Louisiana's newest converted Republican State Senator Elbert Guillory:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

RNC's Fong Speaks to Texas Asian Republican Club

A room packed with a very diverse mix of local Republicans greeted Steven Fong Friday night at Kim Son restaurant. Joining him in addressing the crowd were Steve Munisteri, Republican Party of Texas chairman and David Zapata, RPT Hispanic Outreach Director. 

Candidates for elected office at all levels of government were present as well as those currently holding office. All were given a brief time to speak to the crowd.  It was noted that Judge Theresa Chang and HCRP Chairman candidate Paul Simpson received especially strong support from the crowd as shown by  loud applause. Current HCRP Chairman Woodfill was not present.

The meeting began with President Nghi Ho welcoming everyone followed by Dr. Martha Wong leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Texas pledge, and the National Anthem.  It seemed appropriate that Martha Wong helped to open the meeting as she has been a true trailblazer in bringing the Asian American community to the Republican party, including her own service as an elected official.

Tina Gibson read the press release announcing that the Texas Asian Republican Alliance (TARA) has been formed and will be led by Martha Wong and will be a statewide organization formed due to the leadership of Dr Wong and RPT Chairman Steve Munisteri.

TARA will offer crucial work in holding Texas as a Republican state.  The money from the state party will be used for mailings, staffing resources, a full time staffer from the Asian American community in the Austin office, phone follow-ups, and in candidate recruiting efforts.

Chairman Munisteri spoke about the process of building on Asian American support from the state party level.  He noted that he once ran for office against Martha Wong and he lost to her, which brought laughter from all.  Their friendship endures and it was central in the development of the new statewide caucus.  

That is at the core of politics - developing friendships in a wide range of communities and building on shared philosophy with common values. 

David Zapata spoke briefly about the outreach to the Hispanic community and the common thread of hard work and strong families that runs within immigrant communities.

Steven Fong was introduced and spoke of his new job as RNC National Field Director, Asian Initiative.  He has only been on the job for two months so his speaking style and message still has a bit of work needed.  He was, however, received well and has the enthusiasm for the position.  He spoke of hitting the ground running with reaching out to all fifty states and developing networks to bring various state efforts together across the country. He said he has begun developing strong coalitions in California and New York state where Republican seats must be won.

Fong spoke about trying to win back Congressional seats in California that were previously held by Republicans.  He announced that $10 million has been set aside for Asian American outreach by the RNC but was not able to yet say how much of that will be spent in Texas.  

In the question and answer portion of Fong's presentation, a very timely matter was brought to the surface.  All day Friday, thanks to my friend David Jennings' piece, the talk online and in local Republican circles was about TARC President Ho and his Precinct Chair candidacy.  He recently appeared before the HCRP Vacancy Committee and his application was set aside.  Again the subject of gatekeeping is at the forefront as it pertains to a small group of people in a position of power.  So, when former candidate for Texas State Rep for Dist 149 Jack Lee stood up and asked Mr. Fong about the incident, the crowd went electric. Fong was asked how can Asian Americans feel welcomed and wanted in party leadership when the very President of this group was treated poorly? FULL DISCLOSURE: I very proudly tell you now that Jack Lee is a former client and a person I call Friend. Mr. Fong was put on the spot, to be sure, and fumbled around for a tactful answer.  Not wanting to step on the toes of local leadership from a national position, he said that he would prefer to let local parties make those decisions.  He said, however, he hoped local leaders understood the need to grow the party through diversity and common sense decisions.  Jack Lee received a standing ovation for his timely question and letting both the state leader and the federal level representative  know of local challenges.  

Irony.  We dwell in it here. Mr. Ho has been nothing but gracious about his handling at the hands of the Vacancy Committee.  He is a man of real character, not to mention probably over-qualified to be a precinct chair, given his level of activism and service to the community in past years to the present time. 

A woman stood to ask a question at the end of the evening.  She came here ten years ago from Hong Kong and this evening was her first time at a TARC meeting.  She asked, "why should I be a Republican?" Martha Wong stood and answered her question.  She said there are three simple reasons why an Asian American should be a Republican:  1. Asians believe in a strong family unit, 2. Asians believe in the value of education, and 3. Asians are strong small business owners.  No one could have answered this woman better.

As Mr. Ho pointed out, via a printed hand-out, Republican Party Ideals are Asian Americans' Values: Free Enterprise, Business Friendly; Less Government; Fiscal Conservative; Strong National Defense; Strong Family Values; Great Education System.  He reminded everyone that there is no need to go on a long-winded explanation of party philosophy when these points are what tell the story.

Asian Americans are the fastest growing minority in Texas, did you know that?  You wouldn't think so to read printed media or hear news stories but it is a fact.  The Asian American vote is crucial to winning future elections and can make all the difference in elections in Texas.  Their vote will determine if Texas maintains a stronghold for Republicans on a national level and in presidential elections.

If you have not attended a meeting with TARC, I highly recommend you do so in the near future.  You will be warmly welcomed.  You will be in the company of friends and the food is terrific.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Daughters of Liberty Republican Women Club Bar-b-que and Meeting

Thursday night the Daughters of Liberty Republican Women Club held a jam packed meeting which consisted of a bar-b-que dinner and two fired up and talkative speakers - HCRP Chairman Jared Woodfill and Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Texas Senator Ted Cruz.  

It was my first time attending an event by Daughters of Liberty Republican Women and they put on quite a meeting.  JoAnn Carpenter, VP of Legislation, sang the National Anthem at the beginning of the meeting and God Bless America at the end.  She has an impressive voice.  

Jared Woodfill introduced the many candidates and elected officials present.  Held at the SOSA Center in Spring Branch, four of the candidates running for City Council District A were present - CM Helena Brown, Amy Peck, Mike Knox and Ron Hale.  Lots of judges - present and those running - were in attendance, as well as Chris Daniels who is running for re-election for City Clerk and Bill Frazier, running for Houston City Controller.  Former Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, was there for Mayoral candidate Ben Hall and Mr. Hall's wife was there, too.  Mr. Paige and I spoke of the last event we were both at - that of the education reform forum with State Senator Dan Patrick in the Heights several months ago.  David Sawyer was there for Senator Cruz and Mac Flores was there for the Jerry Patterson campaign.  Attorney General Abbott was also represented.  

It was a large and quite diverse Republican crowd.  Sometimes it was a bit surreal.  It was all very interesting.

Jared Woodfill was the first speaker.  He went through the PowerPoint presentation of the Vision for Victory 2014, which I heard at a recent Greater Houston Pachyderm Club meeting.  Since he was one of two speakers, his presentation was shortened.  He did, however, explain the 'rVotes' program and said that financing is secured for it.  He said it will be up and running in the next 30 days.  He has decided that the Harris County Republican Party will use the system though the state party is not.  RPT Chairman Munisteri has decided to go with the program offered by Karl Rove, Mr. Woodfill said.  I have concerns about this decision and the process in which it has occurred, along with the separation of the county and state parties, but that is for another time.

Pastor Cruz always presents a compelling and motivating speech.  The man's personal story is one of imprisonment and torture at the hands of a brutal dictator during the Cuban Revolution and then his journey to America and his immense pride in being an American citizen.  He is very passionate about politics and the responsibility of pastors to work for cultural and political change.  

This meeting had a little something for everyone and the bar-b-que was good, too.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Where Are the Women in Elected Office, Texas?

Women have come to the forefront in American life, now with numbers surpassing men in measurable areas. The fact that women now earn more college degrees and sometimes more money than men do is something that has been apparent for some time.  It was bound to happen.

Women are outpacing men in earning college degrees:

The facts are plain, if puzzling: Not only do women enter college at higher rates than men, but they're less likely to drop out once they get there. Female grads now account for about 60% of U.S. bachelor's degree holders.

Women are frequently earning more money than their spouse or the sole breadwinner in the household.

A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11% in 1960.These “breadwinner moms” are made up of two very different groups: 5.1 million (37%) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, and 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers. 
Women now also outpace men in going to the polls to vote.  Did you know that?  Women make up 54% - 56% of American voters to date.  So, here is my question - where are the women in Texas state government?  Why is the elected official roll call still so heavily dominated by men?

This question has been around for a while, true, but it was brought home again as Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced her retirement. A champion of transparency in government, she is an award winning public official. As she begins to transition to her next stage in life, Combs is receiving kudos from watchdog organizations, too. She has been in elected office for 20 years.

I have to say, I'm supportive of an elected official stepping down after 20 years of service.  I think many of today's governance problems originate with 'career' politicians. Did our Founding Fathers support a career in politics? No, they did not. Something is lost when both men and women stay beyond truly productive years as servants of the people.

As Combs retires, I was not alone in reflecting upon the number of women in local and Texas state politics, not to mention national politics, as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is no longer serving Texas in D.C.  For Republicans, the numbers are quite sparse. 

As pointed out in this timely piece, Debra Medina is the only woman who has declared her intention to run for a statewide office in the upcoming primaries. Why is that?  The men are falling all over themselves to declare candidacy for the top spots.  With the exception of the race for Land Commissioner, for which there is only one candidate to date - George P. Bush - all of the state leadership offices have multiple male choices.

Republican women have done some legendary work for the people of Texas.  Under the leadership of Kay Bailey Hutchison, when she was State Comptroller, the state income tax was eliminated.  In the case of Susan Combs, her legacy is that of a trailblazer in transparency. Both came up through the good ole boys network in politics and flourished.  Republican women are indebted to them.

There are 150 seats in the Texas House of Representatives - 95 Republican and 55 Democrats. I count 15 Republican women.  There are 31 Texas State Senators. There are 19 Republicans - 4 of which are women.

Why are women lagging so far behind in elected office in Texas?  We know that Republican women club members do a majority of the grassroots work in primaries and general elections in Texas.  More women have to be nurtured and recruited to run for office.  This will take more than just the women currently holding office, as their number is not large.

Here is the statement Governor Perry released upon the announcement from Combs:

"Susan Combs has played a key role in cultivating the strength of the Texas economy, and has been a trusted and capable steward of the public accounts for many years. A major proponent of openness in government, she leaves behind a legacy of transparency, and a state that's more responsive, more accessible and more accountable to the public."
Governor Rick Perry May 29, 2013

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Some Thoughts on the Grand Old Party for a New Generation Report Findings

A detailed report has been released called Grand Old Party for a New Generation. You can read it HERE.

It begins with what we know to be true by now.

It is not that young voters are enamored of the Democratic Party. They simply dislike the Republican Party more. In the focus group research conducted in January 2013, the young “winnable” Obama voters were asked to say what words came to mind when they heard “Republican Party.” The responses were brutal: closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.
The descriptions of the Democratic Party were more charitable. While some respondents viewed Democrats as “soft” or as supporting big spending, most noted that they were “tolerant,” “diverse,” and “open-minded.”
Economic, national defense and social issues are all discussed in the report, as well as suggested corrections that the Republican party can make to attract young voters.  This report focuses on the 21-30 year old voter.  You may remember that in the 2012 election, Mitt Romney won more voters over 30 years of age than Barack Obama did, it was not enough to counter the very successful ground game of the Obama campaign on election day.

President Barack Obama won 5 million more votes than Gov. Mitt Romney among voters under the age of 30 in the 2012 election. Despite Romney holding a 2 million-vote advantage over the President among voters aged 30 and older, Obama’s significant lead with the youth vote was enough to ensure his reelection. While Obama’s advantage among young people shrank from 34 points in the 2008 election to 23 points in 2012, the election reinforced the generational challenge faced by the GOP. 
Starting with economic issues, the important lesson is that the GOP has to be able to talk about policy and explain how the policy relates to everyday life.  We have to be able to speak in terms that young voters relate to in their lives today.

Financing education plays strongly into a discussion on economics with young voters and Republicans can lead on this issue by pointing to some very innovative thinking from Republican governors:
Student loans are enormously important to many young voters, and it may seem that Democrats have the easier path forward by promising ever-greater amounts of federal subsidies for tuition. This is likely a major reason why Republicans hesitate to engage on the issue. Yet Republicans should offer a way forward that doesn’t just propose to subsidize the problem of sky-high tuition; they should offer solutions that would help make an education more affordable in the first place. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry has issued a challenge to institutions to create the “$10,000 bachelor’s degree,”17 and in Indiana, then-Gov. Mitch Daniels helped establish Western Governor’s University Indiana, a non-profit, competency based university developed by a bipartisan group of governors and education innovators 18. Additionally, Republicans have an opportunity to point out how the government’s complete removal of private competition from the educational lending market – snuck into the Affordable Care Act – is bad for young borrowers.The opportunities are great for Republicans to talk about the factors that have made college tuition spiral upward ever faster, and to point out Republican solutions, especially at the state level, that have started to tackle the challenge of providing affordable, quality college education.

On the social issues, the poll drilled down a bit and found the following on the two biggest ones, abortion and gay marriage.  The first up is abortion:

Where the Republican Party runs into trouble with young voters on the abortion issue is not necessarily in being pro-life. On the contrary, the Democratic Party’s position of pushing for abortion to be legal in all cases and at all times, including some recent laws around how to handle medical care for babies born alive during abortion procedures, is what is outside the norm of where young voters stand. Unfortunately for the GOP, the Republican Party has been painted – both by Democrats and by unhelpful voices in our own ranks – as holding the most extreme anti-abortion position (that it should be prohibited in all cases). Furthermore, the issue of protecting life has been conflated with issues around the definition of rape, funding for Planned Parenthood, and even contraception. In the words of one female participant in our Hispanic voter focus group in Orlando, “I think Romney wanted to cut Planned Parenthood. And he supports policies where it would make it harder for a woman to get an abortion should she choose, even if it were medically necessary. That goes head in hand with redefining rape.” In the Columbus female voter focus group, even respondents who said they were strongly pro-life were uncomfortable hearing Republicans talk about wanting to defund Planned Parenthood. In the words of one pro-life respondent, “The Planned Parenthood thing for me is not so much about abortion; it’s about counseling before you can get to that point, and I feel that 62 that’s a big part of what they do, is contraception counseling and about being safe.”It is true that there are some young men and women who are strongly pro-choice and say they would have a very hard time voting for a Republican candidate who took the pro-life position. Yet it may not be the case that remaining silent on the issue is the best course of action for Republicans, nor is shifting away from being pro-life. The challenge is to be mindful of ways that the issue of abortion branches (or can be distorted by opponents) into other policy areas where the GOP does not enjoy the same level of support. 
On the topic of gay marriage - a flavor of the month here in Harris County Republican politics - here is what the younger voters said:

Taking the sample as a whole, about a quarter (26%) of young people say they’d probably or definitely not vote for a candidate who opposes gay marriage even if they were in agreement on many other issues. That opposition to gay marriage is a “deal breaker” to one out of four young voters represents neither a hopeless situation for the GOP nor a great one. It instead raises the challenge: how can the GOP expand its appeal on the issue, or win on issues of greater issue salience so that gay marriage is not a “deal breaker” for a large number of young voters?It is important for Republicans to bear in mind that young voters warmed to President Obama long before his position on gay marriage “evolved,” and that there is no consensus in either party on the issue. Additionally, there is a “middle ground” approach of letting states decide the issue, a position that has been espoused by some prominent Republicans like Marco Rubio. Nonetheless, there is hardly an appetite from this generation to see the GOP crusade against same-sex marriage. In the short run, as we wait for the Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, the best course of action for the party may be to promote the diversity of opinion on the issue within its ranks (after all, for quite some time, former vice president Dick Cheney was to the left of President Obama on same-sex marriage) and to focus on acceptance and support for gay people as separate from the definition of marriage. Where the Republican Party will run into the most trouble over this 66 issue is when it is not winning on any of the more prominent issues, either – the economy and spending. If a candidate is compelling enough on economic opportunity and spending, they may well be able to overcome a difference of opinion with young voters on same-sex marriage. 
So, what is the way forward in GOP messaging? 
Therein lies the opportunity for the GOP. Yes, the Democratic Party is currently winning on the attributes of being caring and open-minded. This was heard in the focus groups, and it was echoed in the survey. But the great news for Republicans is that while those items matter, they are not the only things that matter: intelligence, competence, hard work, and responsibility matter a lot too, and neither party has cornered that market. These are brand attributes that, if the party makes real efforts to emphasize them over and over, can begin to turn the tide on the GOP’s negative brand image.However, while winning on the values of intelligence and hard work will go a long way to rebuilding the GOP’s brand, they do not necessarily address the diversity concerns that emerged time and again in the focus groups. The Republican Party cannot survive in elections winning white voters by twenty points overall yet losing non-white voters by such margins as to swing the whole election to the Democrats. In fact, Mitt Romney won young white voters by a 7-point margin but still lost the race. It could be said that the GOP’s young 74 voter problem is as much about failing to gain support from the African American and Latino communities as anything else. With non-white voters making up 42% of voters under the age of 30, the issue of party diversity and the party’s success with the youth vote are absolutely inseparable. 
Coalition building is the only way forward, if the Republican party is to continue on as a viable political party.  This is just common sense.  A party has to continue to reach out and grow its membership in order to win elections.  No single issue is going to prove to be the magic potion.  

The road to building a diverse Republican coalition among young voters goes through more than just immigration. It goes through every issue tied to economic opportunity and social mobility. 

Republicans are natural messagers of strong economic policy.  The message, however, has to get more consumer-friendly by moving away from standard talking points of cutting taxes and move to real life speeches - how Republican policies benefit young voters and enable them to pay for college or start a small business or get married and buy a home and start a family.  

Tone matters.  Messages matter.  Articulate messengers are essential.  

A bright note is surfacing, verifying my own personal opinion, that our GOP up and coming bench of candidates is deep, while the Democrats? Not so much.

Yet across all six groups, when the topic turned to future leaders of the parties, the GOP was clearly in a stronger position. Asked to name up-and coming Republican stars, these young Obama voters could point to a number of examples. Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, and Rand Paul were all mentioned. 
  On the Democratic side? Few groups could list even one up-and-coming Democratic leader. The young men’s focus group in Columbus named Cory Booker, while another participant said, “I can’t think of any young people.” The young women said the same: “We don’t have any.” “I can’t think of any.” The young entrepreneurs in Orlando could not name any rising Democratic leaders at all. Despite the focus groups describing Democrats as the “young” party, no one could actually describe who their young leaders might be.
At the end of this report is a summary of five steps to take for future Republican victory. It is doable. It is necessary.  It is past time to get started.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Emanuelson Inserts Foot Into Mouth on GOP Strategy

Today's forehead smacking moment comes to us via a Tea Partier - a leader of a Tea Party group in Dallas.  He was speaking at a Republican club meeting and yes, the ever present audio device was working just fine, thank you.

Mr. Emanuelson apparently briefly confused himself as being a Republican, or a Republican in a leadership position making claims of who and who shouldn't be within the party:
The Tea Party leader was speaking at a May 20 meeting of Republicans in Dallas. In an audio recording of the remarks, distributed to news outlets Tuesday by Democrats, an activist can be heard asking Emanuelson what the party is doing to attract black voters to the GOP ticket.“I’m going to be real honest with you,” Emanuelson responded. “The Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they are going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats.”The activist said he took that to mean the GOP had given up on black voters. Emanuelson did not disagree.“We have a lot of work to do in that community, and it has been written off and we need to change that,” Emanuelson said. “Now we’re not going to change that by 2014, but we might be able to change it if we start now in years in the future. But it’s not going to be soon.”
So, apparently the activist asking the question was confused by Emanuelson's position and thus, the firestorm.  This attention in the media - inevitable, of course - brought the next statement from the now shamed Emanuelson:

"That was a mistake," said Dallas Tea Party leader Ken Emanuelson. "I hold no position of authority within the Republican Party and it wasn't my place to opine on behalf of the desires of the Republican Party."

 I would not have been aware of this unfortunate incident occurring at a Republican gathering in Dallas, where the state party chairman was speaking, but it has become a source of revenue for the group working to turn Texas into a Blue State.  I received an email from Congressman Marc Veasey, Texas Congressional District 33 today.  Here, read it for yourself:

Karen -- 

Frankly, I am disgusted.

Last week, Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri flew to Dallas to support a group called "Battlefield Dallas,” an effort by Dallas Republicans to counter efforts of Battleground Texas.

After Chairman Munisteri's speech, Ken Emanuelson, a tea party leader, had this to say about African American voter outreach:

I'm going to be real honest with you, the Republican Party doesn't want black people to vote..."

Well, I am going to be real honest with you, Mr. Emanuelson – the Republican Party discounts communities of color at their own peril and attacks like these only serve to embolden us for the long road ahead.

Don't get angry, get active. By volunteering with Battleground Texas, you can show people like Mr. Emanuelson that every Texan has a voice that counts. Sign up with Battleground Texas today.

Together, we can turn this cowardly attack into the catalyst that makes our movement stronger.

Battlefield Dallas and its tea party ilk have shown their true colors and now it’s time to hold them accountable.



Congressman Marc Veasey
Texas Congressional District 33

And, he included a link to the audio at the end.

So, kudos to those in Dallas taking the work of Battleground Texas seriously.  A thump on the head to Mr. Emanuelson for playing right into their hands.  It seems to be a pattern well established by conservative leaning men.  I see they are branching out from disgusting remarks about women to disparaging remarks about minority voters now. 

Words matter.  Recording devices are everywhere anyone is speaking and they are always turned on to catch this crazy stuff.  It is a huge distraction for those working to change the image of the GOP.  Yes, that's right.  Change the image.  Change may not be comfortable for some but it is necessary for all groups sooner or later.

Tea Party members are welcome in the Republican party as voters.  They are not, however, welcome to be the spokespeople for Republican policy or strategy.  See, that's how that works. The Tea Party wants to tout separation from Republicans? Fine. Republicans have a long and rich history worth preserving. We choose to not write anyone off, thank you very much.