We’ve Accomplished a Lot

Two years ago if someone had said we have a good chance of flipping Ted Cruz’ seat, I would have laughed. But tomorrow I will be crushed if we don’t. While I’m optimistic I’m also anxious.

On the eve of the election in which progressives in Texas have invested so much, I am fearful that our efforts won’t be enough to flip the seats we’ve worked so hard for. But I want to talk about the tangible goals we’ve already achieved even before a single ballot is counted.

Here are four things that we should celebrate:

  1. We have created a broad network of progressive activists like nothing that ever existed before in Texas. We have developed relationships with the leaders of more established progressive groups and learned from them. We have earned trust and friendship along the way. Those coalitions are the foundation that will change Texas for the better.
  2. We have succeeded in changing the conversation in policy areas such as healthcare and immigration. By strongly advocating with and for affected communities, we have put lawmakers on the defensive. We have successfully moved the center to the left.
  3. We have developed tools to make our elected officials more accountable to progressives and we have learned new ways to engage them more effectively. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle recognize the movement power we have, and they have to respect it.
  4. We have become a more knowledgeable and engaged electorate. Get out the vote efforts have changed the face of voters in Texas; we are younger and we are more diverse than previous elections. This was a critical step in moving Texas from a non-voting state to a state that works for all its people.

The election may leave some of us feeling devastated again. Please be kind to yourselves and each other. Flipping statewide and carefully gerrymandered seats here in Texas was always a long shot.

Regardless of the results of the November 6 election, we have not reached the finish line. We have just reached a waypoint, and regardless of who wins any given seat, we’ve accomplished a lot.

It’s the Final Countdown: Last Weekend

If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines, now is the time to suit up. We need you. Texas needs you. And if you’ve been canvassing, phonebanking, texting, dragging friends across broken glass to the polls—thank you. Let’s redouble our efforts through November 6.

Early Voting ends on Friday. If you haven’t already voted, don’t wait until Election Day when lines might be insurmountable. We have maps to the polls and tons of other resources.

Canvass with us and Indivisible co-executive director Ezra Levin!

RSVP for one of the four Final Countdown Canvasses at your website of choice…

Saturday 10 a.m. to noon

Saturday 1 to 3 p.m.

Sunday 10 a.m. to noon (remember Daylight Savings!)

Sunday 1 to 3 p.m. (remember Daylight Savings!)

Join our Election Day phonebank.

Get ready to march to the polls—October 22 at 5:30 p.m.

March to the Polls

What’s a march without a marching band?

Come celebrate the first day of early voting—and show fellow voters how fun voting can be when you bring friends!

We’ve recruited an Indivisible Austin Marching Band for this, and it should be a grand time: we’ll kick things off with some tunes at the Capitol, before marching over to the nearest polling location at the Travis County Granger Building. We’ll convene near the Capitol south steps at 5:30 PM, rain or shine.

If you’re interested in joining the band, please reach out to Cindy Sadler (cindy@cindysadler.com) with your name, instrument, and email address.

Can you help take photos or video? Please message Indivisible Austin directly or via this event. We’re not done after Monday: throughout early voting, we’re looking for folks to lead and participate in local “marches” to the polls (maybe even with your own music?). Sign up to lead a parade, a marching band, mariachis, or just a group of fine folks doing their civic duty in the 2018 midterm elections!

And remember, even if you can’t join our Kickoff March or host your own, make a voting plan & #BeATexasVoter—and help everyone you know do the same.

Alternatives:

RSVP on Eventbrite

RSVP on Facebook

 

Endorsement: Rick Kennedy for U.S. House District 17

Indivisible Austin proudly endorses Rick Kennedy for TX-17

Rick Kennedy draws on his background as a software engineer to position himself as a problem solver. He’s running on a platform that includes protecting access to quality, affordable health care; pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; and reforming the tax code to put money in the hands of consumers, not corporations.

During the primaries, we co-hosted (and live-tweeted) a candidate forum with Kennedy and fellow Democrat Dale Mantey, along with Libertarian Peter Churchman. (The incumbent, Rep. Bill Flores, declined an invitation to participate.) The conversation spanned multiple topics including immigration, climate change, gerrymandering, public education, and health care for veterans and in rural communities. Kennedy displayed a solid grasp of policy, belying his newcomer status. His biggest applause line was on the DREAM Act: “We have a moral and economic imperative to give these people a quick pathway to citizenship.”

It was also refreshing to see three candidates—including Churchman, who disagreed with Kennedy and Mantey on many issues—debate in good faith and with respect for facts and for each other. Contrast this to absentee Rep. Bill Flores, who is notorious for blocking constituents on Twitter, deleting constituent comments on Facebook, and whose campaign amplifies atrocious memes by Dinesh D’Souza.

Spanning Waco to the north, College Station to the East, and a middle finger jabbing through Pflugerville and North Austin, TX17 is one of our more embarrassingly gerrymandered districts.

Map of gerrymandered TX-17Candidates campaigning in this district have a very broad constituency, from college students and faculty at Texas A&M and Baylor, to tech workers in Austin, to vast rural communities. The good news is that progressives are learning that you don’t need a different message for each audience you speak to. The planks of Rick Kennedy’s platform—such as a fair tax code; quality health care that includes a public option; humane immigration policy; and investment in clean energy to combat climate change—resonate with the majority of Americans regardless of demographics.

Rick Kennedy is an experienced problem-solver, who will bring much-needed pragmatism, empathy, and technical acumen to Congress. Indivisible Austin is proud to give Kennedy our endorsement.

Endorsement: Julie Oliver for U.S. House District 25

Indivisible Austin proudly endorses Julie Oliver for TX-25

Indivisible Austin is proud to endorse Julie Oliver to be the Representative of Texas’s 25th Congressional District. In May Oliver won a hard-fought runoff to become the democratic candidate for TX25, and she hasn’t stopped fighting since.

Health care is the central issue of Julie Oliver’s campaign. She is committed to universal health care, favoring a Medicare-for-all style system. As a lawyer working in health care law and finance, she brings real expertise to the problem. Oliver focuses on an array of groups whose health care is often marginalized: rural communities, low income women, and women of color, especially African-American women, receiving maternity care. Importantly, she has made not just insurance coverage, but a functioning health care delivery system, especially in challenged rural communities, central to her campaign. The care and thought she has shown for these communities contrasts dramatically the incumbent, who frequently speaks about the need to strengthen rural health care but has voted to end or sabotage the ACA over and over again.

There are a host of other issues where we appreciate the stands that Julie Oliver is taking. For instance, on gun control, she argues for universal background checks, excluding domestic abusers from purchasing weapons, and overturning the Dickey Amendment, which prevents the government from studying gun violence as a health issue. On climate change, Oliver is fighting for the United States to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and invest in clean energy as a way to reduce carbon emissions and create new jobs and industries for the future. On education, Oliver wants to protect teacher retirement, keep public school funds out of the pockets of private schools, and shut down the school-to-prison pipeline by providing funding for schools that want to reform their unreasonably punitive discipline policies, which all too often lead to students of color in police custody.

However, what really makes Julie Oliver special as a candidate and future Congresswoman, is her approach to TX25. The district is very large —nearly the size of Massachusetts—stretching from south Austin to west of Fort Worth. It is, of course, radically gerrymandered to protect the Republican incumbent. But from the beginning of her campaign, Julie has been dedicated to representing all of TX25. As we mentioned above, rural health care has been an important part of her overall health care position, not because rural voters are her core constituency, (traditionally they aren’t) but because it’s important to the future of the district as a whole and the people who live in it.

Julie Oliver has made it a point from the beginning of her campaign to drive to every corner of the district, putting thousands miles on the odometer. She’s not so much taking a page from Beto O’Rourke’s playbook as she is co-authoring the new story of how Democrats in Texas and around the country campaign. She goes everywhere, listens to and learns from anyone, and fearlessly explains how she and the Democratic party are fighting for them, even if they aren’t supporting her yet.

It’s the only way to win over voters. It’s the right way to govern, and it’s why Indivisible Austin is proud to endorse her candidacy.

Endorsement: Mike Siegel for U.S. House District 10

Indivisible Austin proudly endorses Mike Siegel for TX-10

Mike Siegel is the Austin city attorney who sued Gov. Greg Abbott to stop SB4, the worst anti-immigrant law passed in recent memory. If that were the only thing we knew about him, we’d still probably give him our endorsement. But that just scratches the surface.

Like most Texas Congressional districts TX10 is big and stretches from northwest Austin to far west Houston covering parts of eight counties. Of those eight counties, SEVEN are listed in the state’s post-Hurricane Harvey disaster declaration. One year later and 10 percent of people displaced by the storm still can’t go home, and 15 percent of homes damaged by Harvey are still unlivable. We’ll get to that in a minute.

When Mike Siegel talks about the key issues he’s running on, health care is always at the top. Instead of working to take health insurance away from millions of Texans, as the incumbent has voted to do many times, Siegel supports health care for all. His vision of guaranteed health care has no exclusions for pre-existing conditions or reproductive health care. He is also critical of the massive tax scam that benefited the incumbent (the fifth-wealthiest member of Congress and biggest water-waster), and which Congress wants to pay for by cutting…you guessed it…health care!

Back to that disaster declaration. Siegel has made flood control and response one of his key campaign issues. He has argued that we need a national flood control and response strategy. Safety and security dangers posed to Texans by hurricanes and flooding are among the key issues he believes he can address in Congress. We agree that Texas and the federal government both must act to protect our state from the increased threat and destruction caused by Gulf Coast hurricanes, and which disproportionately impact poor communities and communities of color.

On immigration and racial justice issues, Siegel comes from a very important and oft-ignored perspective: that our policies must reflect humanity and common decency. He will fight for a permanent solution for DACA recipients, and to put an end to the cruel anti-immigrant policies the Trump administration and the incumbent support. Even beyond that, Siegel sees how inequitable our policy-making process is, and how it creates discriminatory outcomes for communities of color with respect to everything from policing to education to voter access.

There are other policy areas where we’re in agreement, including gun violence prevention. Siegel supports universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, and red flag laws.

There are miles of daylight between Siegel’s positions, which build on the greatness of Texas and Texans to make us even greater, and the incumbent’s positions that demand Texans live in fear of everything and everyone around them. But the biggest difference is the commitment to actually engaging with constituents and treating them with decency and respect. For nearly two years TX10 constituents have tried to get a meeting with Rep. McCaul and they have been rebuffed by his staffers. No one can remember the last time he held a public town hall. When cornered by a constituent at a non-public event, McCaul said he’d consider a town hall if it were “fair.”

The thing Mike Siegel gets about public service that the incumbent doesn’t is that our representatives work for us and we expect them to solve problems. Instead of hiding from constituents out of fear they might ask hard questions and demand actual answers, Siegel is on the street knocking doors, talking to voters face-to-face, holding town halls, and treating his future constituents with common decency and respect.

Endorsement: Joseph Kopser for U.S. House District 21

Indivisible Austin proudly endorses Joseph Kopser for TX-21

Joseph Kopser, a 20-year military combat veteran and tech entrepreneur, won a hard-fought primary battle that went to a runoff election. Most progressive groups favored his runoff opponent, Mary Street Wilson, but organizations like TX21Indivisible ATX have since endorsed Kopser.

Their statement:

“TX21Indivisible ATX endorsed Joseph Kopser to represent our district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Joseph’s platform aligns with the progressive values of our members, and he’s been vocal about supporting protections for preexisting conditions, opposing family separation, and advocating for sensible gun safety measures. At a time when our country seems hopelessly divided, we know that Joseph prioritizes country over party, and will do the best job of serving the constituents of TX21.”

When Indivisible Austin considered its endorsement, we first determined that we would follow the lead of in-district grassroots organizations like TX21 Indivisible ATX. We then reviewed Kopser’s positions on the top tier issues that have been our focus since Day One.

Healthcare

Kopser’s campaign favors expanding Medicaid in Texas, and in adding a public option to compete with private insurance companies. His website states that “it is critical that we continue to move toward universal health care and it is essential we do not leave mental health behind.”

Immigration

In June, Kopser joined activists to protest the Trump Administration’s “inhumane policy of ripping families apart at the border.” Kopser is a member of the Truman National Security Project and his website cites their statement that the Muslim Ban is “cruel and ineffective” and the Border Wall “ridiculous.”

Gun Violence

Kopser’s campaign supports a platform to reduce gun violence, including a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines; national background checks; cash-for-guns trade-in programs; and protection of common-sense state gun regulations, such as bans on open or concealed carry.

Joseph Kopser has demonstrated a steadfast wiliness to engage with constituent and progressive groups, crisscrossing the district and participating in multiple Town Halls and candidate forums. Contrast this to his opponent, Chip Roy, who is also running for the open seat following Rep. Lamar Smith’s retirement. Roy’s past stints as Ted Cruz’s chief of staff and Ken Paxton’s first assistant DA are troubling enough, but he seldom makes public appearance, choosing mainly to meet with donors at ticketed events. Is this who we want representing parts of Austin, San Antonio, and Hill Country?

TX21 residents have a choice in this election: A veteran who served his country and now fights for progressive causes, or another GOP Swamp Creature. Staying home is not an option. Joseph Kopser has our full backing as the person best qualified to protect our most vulnerable citizens and to provide an important check on executive power.

Endorsement: Mike Collier for Lt. Governor

Indivisible Austin proudly endorses Mike Collier for Lt. Governon

Mike Collier supports property tax reform, opposes gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement, and supports policies that would close the income inequality gap. His commitment to affordable health care for Texans, a top priority for Indivisible Austin, was a deciding factor in our endorsement.

Expanding health care for all Texans is an urgent need. Texas has the highest rate and highest number of uninsured people, including children (new data will be released this week—it could get worse). Nearly 17 percent of Texans don’t have health insurance—TWICE the national average of 8.8 percent. Ten percent of children don’t have health insurance.

The state’s current leadership has proven time and again its hostility to solving the state’s health care problems. Why would we expect any solutions if they’re re-elected?

Two things in Texas are inextricably linked: property taxes and school funding. For years the legislature has starved our schools by failing to adequately fund public education from state revenues, while forcing local governments to raise taxes to make up the difference. Mike Collier is the lieutenant governor we need to solve these problems.

After the school shooting in Santa Fe, the Texas Legislature had an opportunity to enact life-saving policy changes—and they blew it. When the incumbent Lt. Governor came out against any solutions to gun violence, the committee studying the issue failed to recommend a “red flag” law. Collier supports common-sense gun legislation including improved background checks and red flag laws.

On immigration, Collier opposes hateful legislation like SB4, and supports “a path to citizenship that is efficiently, fairly, and consistently administered.”

Since our initial primary endorsement, we’ve watched Collier and his campaign gain momentum. The Lt. Governor’s race is absolutely winnable, and extremely important for the future of Texas.

Incumbent Dan Patrick, with his fervent desire to discriminate against immigrants and the LGBTQ community and to restrict the economic security of all Texans, must go, and Collier is our pick to defeat him.

Endorsement: Justin Nelson for Attorney General

Indivisible Austin proudly endorses Justin Nelson for Attorney General

Indivisible Austin is proud to endorse Justin Nelson for Texas Attorney General. Nelson’s campaign has brought serious focus to issues that matter to Texans—and to the serious ethical malpractice committed by the incumbent. In this race, running against indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton, ethics is a serious issue, but not the only one.

As founder and former president of One Nation One Vote, a non-profit dedicated to fighting gerrymandering and overhauling the electoral-college system, Nelson shares our vision of a fair and functional democracy. A lawyer, UT professor, and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Nelson also brings serious bona fides to an office sorely lacking adult supervision.

Nelson has committed to rescinding Texas’s lawsuit to end DACA on his first day in office. He calls the separation of families on our border a “humanitarian crisis,” and will finally bring the regulatory power of the state of Texas to bear on the actions of ICE, CBP, and their contractors.

As we write this, Texas—led by Ken Paxton—and 19 other states are going to federal court in an effort to end health care protections for millions of people, including the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. The single most popular provision of the ACA, with broad support across the political spectrum, and Ken Paxton wants to take those protections away from us. Justin Nelson is committed to protecting health care for all Texans, fighting for protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, supporting women’s health, and fighting health care discrimination of all types.

Unlike his opponent, who is awash in personal and systemic political corruption, Justin Nelson is committed to combating public corruption, first by shining a light on the money that pervades Texas politics. Nelson has promised to defend the Texas Ethics Commission from several lawsuits intended to weaken its ability to regulate campaign finance. Paxton may refuse to fight these suits brought by his donors, but Justin Nelson believes that the government of the state of Texas should serve the people of Texas, not the highest bidder. He’ll fight to make sure we have a government we can trust.

We are pleased to endorse Justin Nelson. Texans deserve an Attorney General who will put their needs first, instead of protecting corporate interests and political patrons—or facing jail time.

Endorsement: Joi Chevalier for Comptroller

Indivisible Austin proudly endorses Joi Chevalier for Comptroller

For Comptroller, small-business owner Joi Chevalier would bring experience and humanity to the important role of managing the state budget.

Rather than waste our money on bathroom bills, further militarizing our border, and breaking up families, Joi Chevalier will focus on the role the state budget can play in fostering more, not less, opportunity in the state. For example, her commitment to diversifying revenue sources suggests Chevalier will bring new creativity and life into the Comptroller role, an energy that is sorely needed.