Signal Newsletter: Voting in Texas begins in three weeks

by | Jan 28, 2020 | News, Politics

Welcome to the Signal’s political newsletter. Each week, we take a look at the 2020 elections in the swing state of Texas, from the White House on down to the statehouse. You can subscribe here. Let’s get crankin’.

The Democratic primary is around the corner.

Early voting in Texas begins in three weeks. Millions of Democrats across the state will be heading to the polls to cast their ballot in the primaries for president, U.S. Senate, Congress, and other races. Electability – which Dems can beat Trump and other Republicans – remains the North Star of primary voters, as opposed to ideology or issue positions, at least based on polls going back about a year. Trump is, after all, successfully remaking America in his own dangerous image. 

One of those candidates focused on the cold calculation of beating Trump is Michael Bloomberg. The former NYC mayor is making a gigantic investment in Texas, both for his own candidacy and to help turn the state blue. For this week’s podcast, we sat down with Bloomberg senior advisor Tim O’Brien. We talked climate change, women’s healthcare, and economic justice. 

In terms of the horse race, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the leading choices of Texas Democrats, according to the latest polls. Sanders is going up on Texas cable with an ad later this week. 

It’s the money, honey.

By Friday – if not before then — we should know fundraising numbers for the last quarter of 2019 from the federal candidates. Breaking this morning is that MJ Hegar continued her $1 million+-per-quarter streak. Side note: Female candidates are raising boatloads of money this cycle in the Lone Star State. See Wendy Davis, Jessica Cisneros, Gina Ortiz Jones, and Lizzie Fletcher. 

Abbott’s refugee wrath 

We’re unaware of polling showing what Texans think of the governor’s decision to refuse entry to refugees fleeing violence in their home countries. But our guess is it’s a loser for him. When the Catholic Bishops, the Episcopal Church, and refugee nonprofits take you to task for such mean-spiritedness, you would think he stepped in it. But, candidly, who the hell knows these days. Our culture has become corrosive.

The GOP is anti-gay, you don’t say?!

On Monday, the Republican Party of Texas voted on — yes voted on — whether to allow a booth sponsored by the Log Cabin Republicans (gay conservatives) at their convention. It was a no. Giving the gays the middle finger isn’t new. The bigger issue? Their viciously anti-LGBTQ mindset and policy making. 

When asked if he would allow gay Republicans at the state’s upcoming annual GOP convention, Allen West, who is running for GOP Party chair, said this weekend he would oppose anyone trying “infiltrate and undermine our party’s platform.” That platform, passed in 2018, says: “We affirm God’s biblical design for marriage and sexual behavior between one biological man and one biological woman.”

The people of the state, like the rest of the country, have moved on. It’s lonely on the homophobe’s fantasy island. 

Texas Latina gets sweet gig 

Democratic leaders have announced that El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar would deliver the party’s response to Trump’s State of the Union on Feb. 4. Escobar will deliver the response in Spanish. “Our diversity is our strength,” Escobar wrote on Twitter. “Now more than ever, Democrats will continue to celebrate our diversity, defend our democracy, and work for a more equal and just nation.”

Voters beware 

Texas Republicans, sensing the writing on the wall after Democratic gains, passed a law in 2017 to end straight-ticket voting in the state. This is the first big year to see how voter behavior adjusts to the change. Indeed, candidates will still have the “R” and “D” next to their name, but voters will have to take the time to complete what can be a magnum opus of a ballot in some big Texas counties. 

The law “was absolutely passed by the Republican legislature as a voter suppression tactic,” Royce Brooks, the executive director of Annie’s List, told us. “Now, whether it will end up being a successful one remains to be seen.” So, remember: Vote to the bottom of the ballot!

2020 hit list

The Texas Democratic Party and the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee released its target list of 22 competitive state House seats on Monday. Dems only need to flip nine seats to win control of the Texas House. “We are strategically channeling critical resources into Republican-held districts that, based on significant changes to demographics and electoral trends, are likely to flip from red to blue,” the groups wrote in a memo released on Monday. 

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