Democratic candidate

Dems shouldn't vote straight-ticket

A “Vote” sign at the Lamar County Services Building, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 in Paris, Texas.
A “Vote” sign at the Lamar County Services Building, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 in Paris, Texas.

By and large, I consider myself a fairly reliable Democratic voter. Until fairly recently, I was an explicitly partisan one, belonging to on-campus organizations such as the University Democrats. The reasons for my political views are rather complex and nuanced, but at its core, I agree with the sentiment espoused in the Democratic platform more than the Republican one.

But I will proudly repudiate two statewide Democratic candidates when I vote in my native Houston today, and support Republican and Green candidates, respectively, for the posts. In doing so, I take a stand against the asinine procedure of "straight-party voting."

As I previously noted in a column for the Texan, the Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner, Jim Hogan, is a non-candidate who is openly hostile to the political process. His Republican opponent, former state Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephensville, talks up abortion and amnesty on the campaign trail, as opposed to agriculture. The only sensible solution for any Texan, liberal or conservative, is to vote for the Green candidate, Kenneth Kendrick. Unlike many of his compatriots, Kendrick is not a socialist intent upon revolution. Rather, he is a pragmatic policy-wonk with a detailed plan to conserve water, improve crops and run the office transparently.

Likewise, the race for Place 3 of the Court of Criminal Appeals (the state's highest criminal court) is a remarkably easy choice. The Democratic candidate, John Granberg, does not have much experience practicing criminal law, and is otherwise rather unqualified for the seat. The Republican, on the other hand, Bert Richardson, is a middle-of-the-road jurist loved by those on both sides of the aisle. He is perhaps best known for presiding over Governor Rick Perry's ongoing corruption case, but he also has a long history as an apolitical and honest arbiter of the law. In an election cycle where many Republicans have gone off the deep end on extremism, even in judicial elections, Richardson is a thoughtful professional who checks politics at the courthouse door.

Those two elections are easy choices for Democrats and Republicans alike, unlike most of the statewide contests. But for Yellow Dog Democrats, the choices are only possible if they eschew the silly notion of straight-ticket voting, where a voter ignores the countless individual, unique names and personalities on a ballot, instead opting for a letter of the alphabet. For the sake of our state, please use a little more brainpower.

Horwitz is an associate editor.

Texas Sen.Wendy Davis speaks to supporters at a rally celebrating the one year anniversary of her filibuster of SB 5. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

One year after state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, delayed a vote on an anti-abortion bill with an 11-hour filibuster, a large crowd filled the Palmer Events Center on Wednesday as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Davis and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, talked about their top priority to include the voices of all Texans in the legislature.

“We will do these things because it’s both right and necessary,” Davis said. “We’ve got more work to do, more steps to take, a few more mountains to climb as we face the challenge of building the 21st century economy of this beautiful state, and as we do face those challenges.”

Davis’ filibuster did not ultimately stop the Texas Legislature from banning abortions 20 weeks after conception and regulating other aspects of abortion, but it did  delay the bill's passage. During the last minutes of the session, Van de Putte raised a parliamentary inquiry that many say set off 10 minutes of cheering, screaming and clapping from the gallery, delaying the vote. Van de Putte asked, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

At the event, Van de Putte said even after the demonstration last year, the legislature does not understand the wants of Texas women.

“We sent a clear message to our state and to our nation … that women would just no longer tolerate not being valued, not being listened to. That we would no longer tolerate their lack of trust to make personal decisions in our own lives,” Van de Putte said.

Both Davis and Van de Putte are trailing behind their Republican opponents, according to the most recent UT/Texas Tribune poll numbers. Attorney General Greg Abbott is 12 points ahead of Davis in the gubernatorial race, and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, is 15 points ahead of Van de Putte.

History senior Max Patterson, president of University Democrats and who has worked Students for Wendy, an on-campus student organization, said he thinks the state needs new leadership.

“Whenever we register somebody to vote, we gauge their support of Wendy Davis, talk to them a little bit about the path that Texas is going on with the current Republican leadership and the one that we would like to see [Texas] going on with more progressive leadership in the state capitol," Patterson said.

Patterson said he is excited about bringing the campaign to campus.

“It’s going to be a really fun campaign, but it’s also going to be a really important one for our community, for the whole state, because it’s really a very distinct choice that’s going to be made for the direction of our state,” Patterson said.

Correction: Due to an editing error, this story incorrectly reported Davis' filibuster was 13 hours long. It was in fact 11 hours long.

Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte speaks on the West Mall on Monday evening. The Rally at UT Austin was a part of Van De Putte's nine day statewide bus tour which began March 30. 

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

In a rally on the West Mall on Monday, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio and the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said bipartisan approaches to issues such as higher education are necessary in Texas state government.

The rally marked the last stop on Van de Putte’s statewide bus tour, which covered 16 cities in nine days. In the general election in November, Van de Putte will face either state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, or incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, depending on the result of a runoff election between the two Republican candidates that is scheduled for May 27.

“I heard loud and clear that what people want from their leaders is to focus on the priorities,” Van de Putte said. “Focus on problem solving and not partisan pettiness and politics that absolutely paralyze, like what we sometimes see in Washington D.C.”

Van de Putte said, 10 years ago, the business community, the Texas Legislature and state universities all worked together in efforts to have more tier-one, postsecondary institutions. She said that, because of the way the legislature has handled higher education since then, that goal has not materialized.

“You know, I know, and smart business people know the innovations and the programs, the learning that happens at our tier-one institutions, spark the economy,” Van de Putte said. “They give birth to your creative minds that are going to go out and have new products and services, new research and new and better ways to get things done.”

David Feigen, government senior and University Democrats president, said Republican candidates for lieutenant governor stand in the way of basic reforms of education, marriage inequality and immigration policy.

“This campus is very much ready for change in the lieutenant governor’s office,” Feigen said.

Sheryl Cole, Austin mayor pro tem and a Democrat, said it is historically significant to have two women at the top of the Democratic ticket.

“I think they will bring a balance to statewide politics,” Cole said. “I think [Van de Putte] brings a lot of vibrancy and energy that young people understand and appreciate.”

During the rally, Van de Putte said she hopes to unite everyone as Texans.

“I see the hopes of your parents and the prayers of your grandparents,” Van de Putte said. “So, as Democrats, I want us to all embrace these folks who are understanding our true values and what we’re focused on is the opportunity that’s always been Texas, not the issues that divide us, but the issues that make us stronger when we focus on what’s right for Texas.”

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio and lieutenant governor candidate, talked about her goals to reform educational policy, veteran services and other issues at a primary election party at Mi Tierra Cafe and Panaderia in San Antonio on Tuesday night.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

SAN ANTONIO — State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said she plans to reform educational policy, veteran services and other issues at a primary election party at Mi Tierra Café and Panaderia in San Antonio on Tuesday night.

In the general election, Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, will face either state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, or Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Neither Patrick nor Dewhurst reached the 50 percent mark in the Republican lieutenant governor primary. The two will participate in a run-off election May 27.   

Van de Putte said her mission was to ensure a brighter future for Texas families, especially women and veterans, by focusing on issues such as road repair and transportation reform, water rights and education.

"It's about the kids, it's about my grandkids, and the workforce. It's about the next generation,” Van de Putte said.

Van de Putte said her focus on education and equality set her apart from Republican candidates.

“I can tell you that what the other side has to offer and what [I have] to offer are two very different things,” Van de Putte said. “Republicans aren’t focusing on any of [the important issues]. Their idea of an educational system is to have kids sit at computers all day long with virtual teachers.”

Van de Putte drew on her 22-year history in the Texas Legislature to emphasize that Texas deserves a better future than the one it’s been getting.

“Texas deserves a vision,” Van de Putte said. “The economy in Texas is struggling. We need to create new jobs, and while we’re working on that, Republicans are shoving the roads to local taxpayers and cutting healthcare."

Campaign volunteer Mark Trevino said he relates to Van de Putte’s emphasis on family values and women’s rights.

“Van de Putte has such a strong focus on women’s issues,” Trevino said. “It’s easy for a dad like me, with two daughters, to support her.”

Mary Ellen Velliz, who works with the Bexar County Young Democrats, said she supported Van de Putte because of her inclusive focus.

“I was born and raised in San Antonio, so for me, Van De Putte is the candidate for everyone,” Velliz said. “She not only stands for women or Latinos, but for all races.”

Businessman Phillip Ripper said he agreed that Van de Putte should emphasize equality.

“My sister’s a lesbian, and I’d like to see her get married in Texas one day,” Ripper said. “Van de Putte is a strong female candidate, and I’d like to see what she can do in terms of improving equality.”

Van de Putte rose to national prominence after an 11-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, last June. Davis won the nomination to be the Democratic candidate for governor Tuesday night. When state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-San Antonio, called a third point of order on Davis to effectively end the filibuster, Van de Putte, who had traveled to the capitol building directly from her father’s funeral, protested the move.

“At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” Van de Putte said.

Van de Putte stressed that although the primaries are over, her work is just beginning.

"Today is only the beginning of the pathway," Van de Putte said. "I don't know who I'll face yet, but we'll need your help in November.”

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, gives a speech at her victory party in Fort Worth after officially nabbing the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday. Davis touted education and women's rights in her speech and will face Attorney General Greg Abbott in the general election.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

FORT WORTH — More than 100 supporters chanted Democratic candidate Wendy Davis' name at her campaign headquarters as she secured a predictable victory in the primary elections Tuesday night.

Davis, who is currently the state senator representing Fort Worth’s District 10, led Democratic opponent Ray Madrigal with 76 percent of the vote compared to 24 percent at press time. According to a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, Republican candidate Greg Abbott, the attorney general, has an 11-point lead among likely voters.

Davis, who has mentioned education often during her campaign, said she wants to allow children an opportunity to succeed and move the state forward.

“I want to fight for our future,” Davis said. “As governor, I will fight to give our kids a 21st-century education.”

Davis said Abbott was defending harsh budget cuts to public education.

“He’s defending those cuts, cuts that laid off teachers and forced our kids into overcrowded classrooms,” Davis said. “I will be a governor that fights for all freedoms — not just some freedoms for some people.”

Over the course of campaigning so far, Davis has focused on education, a strong economy, government accountability and support for veterans.

Chris Turner, state representative for District 101, said Davis’ personal story was the reason her campaign was so important.

“She has a deep commitment to education,” Turner said. “She knows what good education opportunities did for her, and she wants to make sure every Texan has those same opportunities.”

Turner said he felt confident Davis would win the general election against Abbott.

“It will be a competitive general election, but I think [Davis] has an excellent chance to win in November because she is a different kind of candidate who is going to run a great campaign, and Texans are going to have a clear choice,” Turner said.

In January, the Davis campaign faced backlash as it was discovered that some details in her story of being a 19-year-old single mother and living in a trailer park were misstated. Maddy Bewley, a student at UT-Arlington, said she did not think this confusion would hurt the campaign any.

“I don’t think that affects the way she’s going to govern us,” Bewley said.

UT alumnus Patrick Doporto, who spent the day volunteering at the Wendy Davis Campaign Headquarters, said this was his first time voting in an election.

“[Davis] excites people to vote and to become active in politics,” Doporto said. “She gives people a voice they haven’t had in Texas politics, one they haven’t had in a long time.”

Doporto said Davis’ focus on education was the most important to him.

“Texas should be the charge in making the United States the education powerhouse again,” Doporto said. Doporto graduated from the University in 2013 with a degree in government and said he was apathetic about elections in the past because he just felt like an observer.

Davis rose to national prominence last summer after a 13-hour filibuster to block House Bill 2, a bill that tightened standards on abortion-providing facilities and resulted in the closure of many clinics across the state. Though Davis has not emphasized abortion over the course of her campaign, she did address Abbott’s anti-abortion stance in her speech.

“[Abbott] wants to dictate for all women, including victims of rape and incest, the decisions they should make,” Davis said. “I will be a governor who fights for the future of Texas. He is a defender of the status quo.”

A joint UT/Texas Tribune poll released Monday shows a close gubernatorial race shaping up between Greg Abbott, the likely Republican nominee and state attorney general, and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, the likely Democratic candidate.

The poll, which is Texas’ only statewide, open-source public opinion survey, lists Abbott in the lead with 40 percent of likely voters and Davis trailing behind with 34 percent. But in the case of a three-way race between Abbott, Davis and the Libertarian gubernatorial-hopeful Kathie Glass, Glass would net 5 percent of the vote, with Abbott’s share of the vote unchanged and Davis’ totaling 35 percent, according to the study.

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project and co-director of the poll, emphasized that he thinks it is too early to read the poll as a definitive statement about how things will turn out on election night. Discussing Glass’ effect on the election outcome, he noted that Libertarian candidates typically attract voters who would otherwise vote Republican, but it is not yet clear how much that will affect the race.

“Just how critical that effect will be will depend on how the campaigning unfolds,” Henson said.

In June, the UT/Texas Tribune poll found that 58 percent of likely voters had no opinion on Wendy Davis, compared with only 16 percent in Monday’s poll.

“When you look at the favorable and unfavorable numbers for Abbott and Davis, you see that many more people have opinions about Davis than they did in June,” Henson said. “In June, almost no one knew who she was.” 

In this August 27, 2011 file photo, U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D) addresses Austinites at a community event. Doggett will be representing a new congressional district after winning Tuesday’s election.

Photo Credit: The Texas Tribune | Daily Texan Staff

Educational advocates Lloyd Doggett and Joaquin Castro will represent Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives, where they plan to push for pro-education reform.

Democratic candidate Lloyd Doggett defeated his three opponents for the position of U.S. Representative in Central Texas District 35, gaining 64 percent of the vote. This will be his 10th term in office. Doggett is a UT alumnus and former student body president. He is working to boost federal support for education while in office, calling for a permanent extension of a $2,500 tax cut for students pursuing a post-secondary education.

Democratic candidate Joaquin Castro defeated his three opponents for the position of U.S. Representative in District 20, which is mainly in the western San Antonio area, with 64 percent of the vote. Castro is currently serving his fifth term as state representative for District 125, which is mainly in the northwestern San Antonio area.

He won the seat Democrat Charles Gonzalez is vacating, putting an end to nearly 40 years of district representation by Gonzalez’s family.

Castro has been called a “rising star” by the Democratic Party and has worked to restore millions of dollars in funding to health care and educational programs, advocating an “Infrastructure of Opportunity,” defined on his website as “good public schools, great universities and a sound health care system ... that enables Americans to pursue their American Dream.”

Doggett said Tuesday night that he looks forward to partnering with Castro and San Antonio officials to “advance what’s already an outstanding community.”

Castro said on his website that he would like to give others the same opportunities he has had.

Doggett has also advocated tax, social security and health care reform to positively affect the middle and lower classes.

Castro has focused other political efforts on the areas of mental health, teen pregnancy and juvenile justice.

Both candidates plan to continue their past initiatives as the new legislative session begins. 

After Gov. Rick Perry’s successful bid for re-election was announced Tuesday, some students across campus were disappointed, but felt the outcome was expected.

Many students who lined up to vote outside the Flawn Academic Center expressed support for Democratic candidates. Out of 853 total votes cast at Precinct 148, the FAC, 570 votes went to Bill White, while 240 went to Perry, 23 to Green Party candidate Deb Shafto and 20 to Libertarian Kathie Glass.

Plan II freshman Arsalan Eftekhar said although the campus may have gone to Democratic candidate Bill White, Perry won because Texas as a whole is a conservative state.

“But here on campus, students are overly Democratic,” he said. “If White won, I think kids would be taught to think critically and analytically versus just being taught what’s on the test. Perry’s main focus is teaching what’s on the test, White’s more in it for education.”

Incumbent Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst also defeated challenger Linda Chavez-Thompson handily, but students were more focused on the gubernatorial race.

They felt that Democratic candidates offered more helpful suggestions for issues that relate directly to them, such as education.

“I expected the election to go mostly in the Republican direction,” said math freshman Gabe Earle. “I voted for White because the issue that I was well-informed on was making college affordable, and that might lead to increased grants or loans, and I thought that would be helpful.”

Students said educational assistance was a big concern as they cast their votes.

“I’m disappointed that Texans stuck with the same governor,” said mechanical engineering freshman Vineet Raman. “Perry has been governor for the past 10 years and we don’t have much to show for it. I think White was a better candidate because he was willing to tackle the deficit and focus on education because Texas is falling behind other states.”

John Chapman, advertising senior and spokesman of College Republicans, said that job creation and the economy are the issues voters have focused on lately.

“For students especially, we’re about to graduate and want to be certain that we have secure and stable jobs waiting for us,” Chapman said. “People are seeing that Texas is a great place to work, do business and raise a family. Four out of five private sector jobs in the nation have been created in Texas since 2005, and we are the number one state to do business. A lot of that has to do with both leadership of governor Perry and the state of Texas as a whole.”

Even for students who support White, some feel that Perry’s victory was inevitable.

“Even if a stronger Democratic candidate would come in, Perry would still beat him,” said Leilani Kelley, a government and political communications junior. “People love his policies and what they perceive as his character. He has a very strong base and I think he will continue to win until he stops running.”