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The Good, the Bad and the Bizarre
Over the past week we’ve seen Texas Democrats distinguish themselves as tough leaders, fearless advocates for mainstream voters and rising stars. Meanwhile Texas Republicans continue to make fair-minded Texans cringe with harsh rhetoric, demeaning statements, embarrassing gaffes and, sometimes, just plain wackiness.
Republican leaders dependent upon support from the extreme fringe of their party hold every leadership position in Texas. Mainstream Democrats, however, are doing a remarkable job of engaging their extreme partisan counterparts and exposing them as out of touch with the concerns and needs of Texans. From court house battles on a discriminatory Voter ID law to a heroic stand in the State Capitol to stop an assault on Texas women and their families, Texas Democrats are displaying remarkable effectiveness. Moreover, the intelligence and abilities of Texas Democratic leaders throws into relief the extreme divisive ideology and the embarrassing displays of Texas Republicans.
Within twenty minutes of the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act, Rick Perry and AG Greg Abbott moved to implement a contentious and discriminatory Voter Photo ID law designed to suppress the vote of Latino, African American, student and elderly Texans. Freshman Congressman Marc Veasey (CD33 – Fort Worth) immediately took the lead to protect Texas voters by filing suit in federal court to block implementation of the discriminatory law.
Voters in Tarrant County have long known that Senator Wendy Davis (SD10 – Fort Worth) is a smart, tough and effective public servant of extraordinary courage. Now the entire state and nation know. She took a principled stand with her Democratic Senate colleagues to stage a 13-hour filibuster that ultimately blocked legislation designed to promote Republican campaign prospects by denying women access to critical healthcare services. #StandWithWendy now is synonymous with a stand against failed Texas leaders and the overt abuse of power.
If the 13-hour filibuster had been a basketball game, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (SD26 – San Antonio) would have been the leader in assists. When it appeared the filibuster wouldn’t make it to midnight and end the session, Senator Van de Putte stood up and made a key parliamentary move to seek recognition. When the Republican chair, Robert Duncan, ignored her, Van de Putte’s response ignited cheers from the gallery that persisted for over 15 minutes and ultimately brought the session to a close and consideration of the bill attacking women’s health to an end.
A new face who is quickly earning high praise for her fine representation, State Representative Mary Gonzalez (HD75 – El Paso) is among a whole host of young and new Members of the State House who should be on everyone’s watch list for big things in the years to come.
Apparently Rick Perry just can’t help himself. First, he bungled the Special Session and created the opening for Wendy Davis and her colleagues to stage the successful filibuster. Afterward, Perry made foolish and condescending comments about Senator Davis and, in doing so, insulted and disrespected all Texas women. Perry’s arrogance and repeated gaffes have lined him next to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst as examples of weak, failed and embarrassing leadership.
Years in Congress should mean more than just racking up seniority. However, after nearly twenty years in Congress, Pete Sessions (CD32 – Dallas) still pairs an insipid demeanor with a mean-spirited point of view. Incredibly, he has never backed-off or recanted the hostile attitude expressed in unscripted comments on undocumented immigrants in 1994.
Before becoming a member of Congress, Michael Burgess (CD26 – Lewisville) practiced medicine as an Obstetrician. It’s probably good for Texas women that he changed careers given his recent comments on fetal pleasure.
State Representative Debbie Riddle (HD150 - Kingwood) sits on the back bench in the Texas State House but pops up from time to time to display a brand of partisanship and extreme ideology that may exist only among Texas GOP office-holders.
It’s hard to put a description of Louie Gohmert (CD1 – Tyler) into words. Texas’s 1st Congressional District Representative has become a caricature of a politician who is the butt of jokes among Democrats, Republicans, the press and a large part of the public. Gohmert, though, seems oblivious to it all while ranting away in his own corner of reality.