‘I’m not just gonna sit here and take my whoopin’: Alex Dominguez brings his Valley swagger to D.C.

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If Alex Dominguez is anything, he’s fiery. A leading voice in the Texas Democratic Caucus, the District 37 representative out of Brownsville has proven time and again that he’s not afraid of a fight. Here, he shares the latest developments about House Democrats’ D.C. mission to safeguard voting rights, including a powerful meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris. 

David Leffler: How are things going on your end, Rep. Dominguez?

Alex Dominguez: We’re doing great. I’m very excited that we have so many colleagues that are as passionate about what we’re doing as we are. We’re getting a lot of support — not just back home, but throughout the country and the nation’s capital. Just earlier today, I got stopped in the street by an older couple who were walking their dog. They just asked, “Are you, by chance, one of those representatives from Texas?” I wasn’t even wearing my boots or my hat. And it was unexpected and a nice morale booster, because they mentioned that they’re very proud of what we’re doing. It’s good to know people are paying attention. 

DL: How would you describe the past few days? It’s been such a whirlwind.

AD: Well, let’s just say that this wasn’t a quick, easy, or simple decision. But with the conditions down at the Texas State Capitol, we truly didn’t have any other choice. It would be one thing if we had some members that were willing to negotiate a little bit, have some give and take. But that wasn’t the case. So if the cards are so stacked against us that it’s essentially a predetermined outcome, if the situation is that I should just stay in Austin at the Capitol and take my whoopin’ — that’s not me. And if that’s what you think’s going to happen, you’re going to get a lot of fight out of me. 

DL: What was the atmosphere like on the flight up there?

AD: First and foremost, we were excited that we were able to get fifty some-odd Democrats in one place — because that’s a major feat under normal circumstances [laughs]. It was a hard undertaking, but we were happy that we were together as a family. But it wasn’t that we were celebrating. We were not slam dunking the ball. It wasn’t that at all. It’s that we all had a common resolve and people stuck to it. 

DL: This is not the first time that Texas Democrats have broken quorum over the years. But there’s a different scale to this in terms of your being in D.C. There’s a different scale to it in terms of the attention that it’s being given nationally. And of course, the stakes are massive.

AD: These types of bills are not only in Texas. We saw something similar passed in Florida and in Georgia; it’s like the greatest hits playbook for Republican governors throughout the country. But I think our resolve and our willingness to travel here, to Washington, D.C., is to exert a little bit of dialog and pressure on our Senators to get some things done. We’re very grateful for the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. I know there’s a great drive in the U.S. Senate to pass something, it’s just a matter of what that will look like. And if we’re able to help guide or start conversations on that topic, then then we’ve been successful.

DL: Have you had any notable meetings with D.C. lawmakers?

AD: We actually met with Vice President Harris recently. At one point she was applauding us and clapping for us. And, mind you, there weren’t any cameras in the room. She wasn’t doing it for show. She wanted us to know that, not only was she grateful, but a lot of people on Capitol Hill, in the White House, are glad that we came to D.C. and are putting a national spotlight on the topic of voting rights. It’s a struggle that we thought we had vanquished decades ago with the Voting Rights Act. But ever since Supreme Court Justice John Roberts declared that discrimination is over, Republican legislatures have made it their goal to do everything they can to try to turn back the hands of time. The vice president said she was very grateful for us putting up the fight and bringing the attention back on this topic, which means a lot. 

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