Meet the Primary Election Runoff Candidates!

Be A Texas VoterThe primary election runoff is May 22, with early voting from May 14-18. Several state and US districts are holding runoff elections. If you voted in the primary, you must vote in the same party’s runoff. But if you did not vote in the primary, you can vote in either party’s runoff.

Below are upcoming candidate forums, debates, and meet-and-greets. We’ll update this page as more events are confirmed.

Wednesday, May 2nd

HD46 Democratic Runoff Debate

7:30 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 1164 San Bernard St. Hosted by KUT Austin.

Join us for a debate between the candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Texas House District 46.

Sheryl Cole for State Representative and Jose “Chito” Vela for State Representative are in the May 22nd runoff for the seat currently held by long-time State Representative Dawnna Dukes.

Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/192246558223278/

Saturday, May 5th

Meet the TX10 & TX27 Candidates in Bastrop

11 a.m. at Neighbor’s Kitchen and Yard, Bastrop, TX. Hosted by the Bastrop County Democratic Party.

Featuring Tawana Walter-Cadien and Mike Siegel, who are running in TX10, and also Eric Holquin and Roy Barrera, who are running to represent TX27.

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/212009829391326/

Town Hall for Our Lives featuring TX25 candidate Chris Perri and HD47 candidate Vikki Goodwin

5 p.m. at James Bowie High School, 4103 W Slaughter Ln.

Student-organized discussion with local Austin leaders as well as candidates for Congress. Panelists will include the local leaders and candidates as well as students from James Bowie High School. Panelists will include:

  • Chris Perri (candidate TX-25)
  • Vikki Goodwin (candidate TX-47)
  • Chris Evoy (AISD Police Department)
  • Dr. Craig Shapiro (Associate Superintendent of High Schools AISD)

Join to hear a Q&A session between the students and local leaders. Audience members will be able to ask questions and get involved towards the end of the event. Principals from the AISD district will be formally invited to listen in.

Eventbrite:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/town-hall-for-our-lives-austin-tx-tickets-45186265336

Sunday, May 6th

Primary forum w/ TX25 candidates and HD47 candidates

1:30 p.m. at Laura’s Library, 9411 Bee Caves Rd. Hosted by Indivisible Eanes/West Austin and Cuernavaca Action Group

Come meet the candidates for Congressional District 25 and Texas House District 27. This non-partisan event will give you an opportunity to speak with each candidate in a small group and ask them the questions that matter to you.

1:30 – 2:15 TX25 – Candidates invited are Julie Oliver, Chris Perri, and Roger Williams

2:30 – 3:00 HD47 – Candidates invited are Elaina Fowler, Vikki Goodwin, and Paul Workman

Registration using Eventbrite is requested but not required:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/meet-the-runoff-candidates-tickets-44930669843

Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/231673737572107/

Monday, May 7th

A Democratic Candidate Forum for HD46 with Sheryl Cole & Chito Vela

6:30 p.m. at AFS Cinema, 6259 Middle Fiskville Rd. Hosted by The Texas Tribune.

Join The Texas Tribune for a candidate forum with the two Democratic hopefuls for House District 46.

Eventbrite:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-democratic-candidate-forum-for-hd-46-with-sheryl-cole-chito-vela-registration-44559574888

Friday, May 11th

Save the Date: Governors’ Debate with Lupe Valdez and Andrew White. 6 p.m.

6 p.m. at St James Episcopal 1941 Webberville Rd. Austin, Texas 78721

Join State Tejano Democrats, Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, Texas Young Democrats, Texas College Democrats, Texas Stonewall Democrats, and Travis County Democratic Party for a Grassroots Debate, with Lupe Valdez and Andrew White.

The debate will be moderated by Gromer Jeffers, political writer for the Dallas Morning News and Co-Host of Lone Star Politics on KXAS (NBC5). The event will be held at St. James Episcopal Church, ten minutes from downtown Austin. A live stream of the debate will be available at KXAN.com.

6:00 p.m. – Doors open
6:30 p.m. – Programing and instructions
7:00 p.m. – Debate

A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public on Tuesday May 8, at 6:00pm CST. The link will be published to this Facebook event page.

On the day of the debate, tickets will be honored up until 6:50pm, when all remaining available seats will be given to members of the public waiting in line at the venue.

Saturday, May 12th

***The Wilco Indivisible event originally scheduled for Saturday has been cancelled. We’ll update with any new events or if it’s rescheduled***

Monday, May 14th

TX21 Indivisible ATX Primary Runoff Candidate Forum

7 p.m. at FiberCove, 1700 S Lamar Blvd #338. Hosted by TX21 Indivisible.

Hear from candidates who want to represent Texas’ 21st Congressional District, and are headed to the primary runoff in just a few weeks:

  • Joseph Kopser (D)
  • Mary Wilson (D)

This is a rare chance to hear candidates from both parties at the same forum. There is only room for 100 attendees, so please arrive early to grab your seat.

Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/187054998773639/

Saturday, May 19th

TX31 Candidate Debate

10 a.m. at Sun City Ballroom 2 Texas Dr. Bldg A., Georgetown, TX. Hosted by Sun City Democrats, Florence Indivisible, Sun City Indivisible, Wilco Indivisible, and Cedar Park Indivisible.

Please join us for a debate between TX31 Congressional Candidates MJ Hegar and Dr. Christine Mann, moderated by Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune.

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1661087147302406/

And in case you missed it…

Videos from the April 21 candidate forum for the Democratic runoff election in Texas’ 10th Congressional District

 

 

Tell John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, and Greg Abbott to Cancel their NRA Convention Speeches

Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Greg AbbottPictured: NRA Tools

Arguably the three most powerful politicians in Texas (was Dan Patrick not available?) are joining Vice President Mike Pence at the annual convention of the NRA in Dallas May 3-6.

It’s time to call BS on our elected representatives, for not representing our interests. The NRA represents gun manufacturers, not gun owners, not citizens, and definitely not Texans. We stand with the majority of Americans, including gun owners, in demanding commonsense gun legislation.

Why are our two senators and our governor to beholden to the NRA that they would speak at their convention—despite (or perhaps because of?) the massive nationwide backlash against what is essentially a domestic terrorist organization. Their presence at the convention is insulting to victims of gun violence and to all Texans. Remind Cruz and Abbott that this is an election year for them, and for Cornyn in 2020, and that you’re paying attention to their sleazy alliance with gun lobbyists.

Sample, perhaps overly polite script:

It’s disappointing that you continue to align yourself with the gun lobby by speaking at the NRA convention in Dallas. Most gun owners want common sense gun control; the NRA’s only mission is to sell more guns.

In the wake of preventable shootings in Texas, Florida, and every other state, I hope you will reconsider your attendance at the convention.

Voters are paying attention to who your friends are.

And if you’re in the Dallas area, protests begin at noon at City Hall Plaza on May 5th. And Indivisible Women Tarrant County is holding a die-in the night before.

How Your Voices Made a Difference: Indictment

The big news…Despite the GOP attempting to deflect the investigation onto Hillary Clinton (in light of the revelation of her funding the infamous Steele dossier), the two are not a zero-sum proposition, and special investigator Robert Mueller continues digging into the campaign, business dealings, finances, and potential collusion of Donald and his cohorts. News broke over the weekend that Mueller may have filed the first charges in the investigation, though they’re sealed at the moment, and we won’t find out who is being taken into custody till Monday. (Update: We know.) Also, despite Jared Kushner’s denials, the lawyer he and Don Jr. met with to eagerly receive promised dirt on Hillary Clinton seems to have indeed been acting in direct conjunction with the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, amid rumors of the three congressional Russian investigations sputtering out, Brad Parscale, the director of Donny’s digital campaign, was summoned before the House Intelligence Panel. Michael Cohen, Donny’s personal lawyer, also appeared before the House and Senate intelligence committees, and Donny’s campaign consultant Carter Page will finally testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week, after months of dodging. Meanwhile Don John’s beleaguered former campaign chair Paul Manafort faces yet another money-laundering investigation, this time by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, in collaboration with Mueller’s probe already under way. Things are getting juicy—even if Congress shuts its investigations down, hopefully Mueller’s findings will get to the bottom of exactly how—and with whose help—Russia meddled in the 2016 elections.

Adding their voice to those of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and rural and industrial interests, the auto industry has launched a vocal defense of NAFTA in the face of Donald’s continued threats to withdraw the U.S. from the trade agreement. “We need you to tell your elected officials that you don’t change the game in the middle of a comeback. We’re winning with NAFTA,” the group said on its website.

The Government Accountability Office has launched a probe into Donald’s sham voter fraud commission, formed to try to justify his baseless claims that the 3 million votes that lost him the popular election were fraudulent. The secretive organization is headed by Kris Kobach, who has a long track record of voter suppression and racial profiling, and though it nods toward bipartisanship with a few Democratic members, those members have complained of a lack of transparency and being routinely excluded from even the most basic meetings and info.

Meanwhile the Republican Party is hemorrhaging moderates, as Texas’s own Joe Straus announced he will retire at the end of his term as speaker of the house, and on the national level Jeff Flake (Senator from Arizona) joins the ranks of those on the way out. The loss of nonextremist, rational voices is bad—but Flake’s district has a serious challenge from a Democrat—which is good. Also good—freed from the yoke of seeking reelection, these lawmakers are speaking out. John McCain continues his not-so-veiled criticisms of Donald, most recently regarding his dodging of service in America’s military (despite his attacks on veterans, war heroes, and Gold Star families), calling out wealthy scions who avoided service on trumped-up pretexts like “bone spurs”—Don John’s exact and repeated excuse for deferring his service during the Vietnam War, which in his own words was “not a big problem, but it was enough of a problem,” and magically cleared up once he was safe from being called to war.

Jeff Flake also began speaking quite freely as soon as he announced his retirement: “Without fear of the consequences and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe, we must stop pretending that the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal. Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused as telling it like it is when it is actually reckless, outrageous and undignified…. It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we doing to do about that? When the next generation asks us, why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? What are we going to say? Mr. President, I rise to say, enough.”

Adding his voice to recent condemnations of Don John by George W. Bush and John McCain, Flake added that senators “must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal. With respect, we fooled ourselves long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.”

Let us fervently hope that’s true. You can also check out Flake’s gloves-off op-ed about the Trump presidency here, and his lone-GOP-wolf opposition to racist, extremist senatorial hopeful Roy Moore here.

Kentucky judge resigned in the face of a pending ethics investigation into his abuse of his position, flouting of Kentucky law, and general douchebaggery in refusing to hear adoption cases where a parent was a “practicing homosexual.”

A generic ballot—reported on FOX, no less—suggests that if voting were held today for the 2018 elections, Democrats would lead by 15 points. Keep in mind that every FOX viewer just had a panic attack and is now more motivated to vote—so we have to keep getting the vote out!

Hang in there, warriors. Like so many things, the hallmark of successful activism is persistence, as this lifelong activist shares.

We’re Showing Up for Texas Today

Today we have a message for the president. Texans are hurting from Hurricane Harvey, and it will take us years to recover. While it will be some time before the full damage estimates and economic impact of the storm are assessed, we can be sure that our great state’s recovery will take a long time. But we’re Texans, and we’re not afraid of the hard work ahead of us.

Texas has never seen a storm like Harvey. It is epochal.

On his Texas visit today the president will likely take advantage of some photo opportunities, and speak some self-described perfect words. He will no doubt make promises and try to burnish his presidential image. But the real measure of his response will not be if he appears more presidential, but rather his administration’s accomplishments in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Will that response tackle not only the misfortunes of the affluent in this disaster, but also the misfortunes of those his administration has habitually targeted from its start?

It is difficult to reconcile the forthcoming pledges to rebuild impacted areas of Texas with the president’s pardon of Joe Arpaio as the storm was bearing down on Houston (for ratings, he said), his refusal to close border patrol checkpoints on evacuation routes out of South Texas, his destruction of some of our state’s most treasured natural gems to make way for his border wall, and his imminent repeal of DACA. That’s why we’re showing up for Texas today during the president’s visit.

There has never ever been a natural disaster in the U.S. during which public officials have had to clarify numerous times that those seeking shelter from the storm and  flooding will not be deported.

The test is simple. Will this administration start to take the threat of climate change seriously and begin tackling the technological and infrastructure challenges necessary to reduce the impact of future disasters like this one? Will this administration make sure that the poorest communities and communities of color – which suffer disparate impacts of natural disasters – recover from this storm? Or will those communities be offered only platitudes and empty gestures? Time will tell, but the recent actions of this administration make clear its steadfast refusal to extend the same consideration to those communities that it extends to the well-to-do. We are showing up today to make sure the administration knows we will not allow these concerns to be swept under the rug in the usual post-disaster niceties.

We also cannot forget that many other policies this administration pursues have negative impacts on our state, and when combined with the devastation from Harvey, further harm our state and our people.

The proposed border wall means Texans will lose their land through eminent domain, and fragile ecological regions will be decimated; even our own Senator John Cornyn’s recent border “security” bill doesn’t include funding for the president’s vision of this folly.

The nation’s largest inland port, Laredo, is on the front lines of the president’s Twitter war against against NAFTA. In 2015, Texas exported nearly $100 billion in goods to Mexico, and some 382,000 Texas jobs are linked to trade with Mexico. Targeting NAFTA hurts Texans and hurts our economy.

The president’s intention to rescind DACA, which is expected to happen this week, will have a disproportionate impact in Texas. Of the nearly 800,000 young adults whose DACA status has been approved, more than 25 percent of them live in Texas. They may have come to the U.S. as undocumented children through no fault of their own, but they have followed specific requirements to remain in the U.S. legally. As a result, they have graduated from colleges, started Texas businesses, bought homes, and built lives in Texas. For that they are being used to score political points by an administration determined to take a hard line on all immigrants regardless of status. He has used them as scapegoats. He lies about crime statistics to stigmatize a vulnerable group, and to stoke fear and hatred of all immigrants.

Trump’s policies will harm the Texas economy, which will be deeply strained during the long road of recovery from Harvey. We are already gearing up for the budget fights in Congress that could stifle the emergency relief we so desperately need.

Harvey has to be our top priority right now, as we anticipate thousands of evacuees coming to Austin. We have been and will continue supporting the rescuers and aid givers who need our volunteer hours and our financial and material assistance. But today we also need to send a message: Texans are great, resilient people, and we will do all we can to protect our state from policies that harm our residents and their livelihoods. 

Indivisible Austin
Wilco Indivisible
Indivisible TXLege
TX10 Indivisible
TX17 Indivisible
TX21 Indivisible
TX35 Indivisible

 

Statements from Our Lawmakers on the White Supremacist Violence in Charlottesville

These are in chronological order.

The offensive behavior displayed in Charlottesville is an attack on our American values. Racism and violence have no…

Posted by John Carter on Saturday, August 12, 2017

 

 

 

 

Conference Call with NARAL Pro Choice TX and CPPP: May 9, 2017 at 8 p.m. CT

Please join our next conference call on Tuesday, May 9 at 8 p.m. CT.

Guest speakers:

  • Dr. Valerie R. Peterson, who is on the Board of Directors of NARAL Pro Choice Texas. Dr. Peterson also shared her personal abortion story in the New York Times and continues to be engaged with reproductive rights in the Texas Legislature.
  • Stacey Pogue, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP)

 

Four things you can do to stop SB4

The time has finally come–the Texas House of Representatives is going to debate and vote on SB4 on Wednesday.

SB4 is the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill that will undermine community policing efforts and will affect our neighbors, our workforce, kids in our schools, and the relationship between police and our communities. This doesn’t just affect the immigrant community, it impacts everyone who may be asked to prove he or she is a citizen.

Here are 4 things you can do to help stop this terrible bill:

  1. Call your Texas House rep and ask them to vote AGAINST SB4:
    “Hi, my name is ________ and I am calling to demand that the Representative OPPOSE Senate Bill 4 in any form. [My family / Texas students / Texas children] deserve/s to live without fear, and to live lives of dignity and prosperity. Please tell the Representative that Texans OPPOSE SB 4 and they must too.”
  2. Join Indivisible Austin’s emergency conference call TONIGHT at 8 p.m. with representatives from United We Dream and Workers Defense Project
    Dial-in Number: 1-(712) 770-8067
    Conference Code: 409542
  3. Join Texans from across the state at the Capitol on WEDNESDAY to fill the gallery–let our representatives know we’re watching
    There are several events scheduled at the Capitol on Wednesday:
    9am – TRUST Coalition press conference, WEST Steps of the Capitol (*location changed from South to West steps*)
    10am – Person to Person Outreach for Representatives Going Into the House Chamber
    6pm – Prayer Vigil in the Rotunda
  4. Call, text, or email your friends and family members in other parts of the state and ask them to do #1!
    Here’s a target list of Texas House reps who need to hear from their constituents! Our representatives in Austin are on the right side of this issue, but there are reps across the state who need phone calls.

We have ONE LAST CHANCE to stop SB4 and protect immigrant families in our state. Please join us in rising to the challenge to #StandIndivisible and give it all we can!

April 25: Emergency Conference Call on SB4: “Sanctuary Cities” Bill

Our next conference call is on the night before the full Texas House votes on SB4, the “Sanctuary Cities” bill. We are lining up guest speakers, including Jose Garza of Workers Defense Project and Chris Valdez and Karla Perez Ramirez of United We Dream. Watch this space for more detail.

WHAT: Indivisible Austin Conference Call

WHEN: Tuesday, April 25 at 8 p.m. CT

HOW: Call 1-(712) 770-8067 / Conference Code: 409542

Facebook event

About Karla Perez Ramirez

Karla is the statewide coordinator for the United We Dream UndocuTexas campaign and a beneficiary of DACA. She is a second year law student at the University of Houston Law Center and Board member of United We Dream. English/Spanish.

About Chris Valdez

Chris works with United We Dream on Texas communications, is a court-appointed special advocate through Child Advocates in Harris County and is based in Houston. English dominant/Spanish proficient.

About Jose Garza

Jose Garza, Executive Director, Workers Defense ProjectJose Garza is Executive Director of the Workers Defense Project. Jose, who started at WDP in January 2016, is a native Texan who has devoted his career to the fight for working families and immigrant families. His homecoming to WDP is inspired by a “deep belief that this state can be a place where working families can get ahead.” (Barragan, AAS)

Jose started his career in Washington, D.C., where he worked for Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, attended law school at Catholic University, and worked for a federal district judge. He returned to Texas for the first time in 2006 to work on the border as an assistant public defender at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and then as an assistant federal public defender in the Western District of Texas.

In 2010, Jose returned to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Deputy General Counsel for the House Com­mit­tee on Education and Labor. He went on to work as Special Counsel to the National Labor Rela­tions Board, and most recently he served Secretary Tom Perez as a senior policy official at the U.S. Department of Labor. Garza brings extensive experience working with local, state and national labor organizations to build opportunity for working families and immigrant families.

 

Why We Fight Gerrymandering

Democracy in America is in trouble. All across the political spectrum, Americans feel alienated from their government. They find it distant, ineffective, corrupt, and interested primarily in serving the powerful at the expense of everyone else. Many millions have given up in frustration, feeling powerless to do anything. Others have embraced partisan warfare, turning our politics into a zero-sum battle for total dominance. The spirit of compromise is seldom seen, and idealistic belief in the promise of democratic self-rule seems almost hopelessly naïve. These are the conditions under which authoritarians rise and republics fall — believing the system has failed them, people look to strongmen for salvation.

The promise of a “great leader” is a false one; only we can fix what is broken. The Founders created this government to serve us, the American people, and if the government is failing in that service, it is our responsibility to do something about it. Fatalism, hopelessness, and nihilism get us nowhere — we must recommit ourselves to the ideals and hard work of democratic self-rule and take the system back for ourselves. The task seems almost impossibly huge, but this is America — there is nothing our can-do spirit and grit can’t overcome. A huge task such as this requires that we choose a place to start: to fix our broken politics, we must first take back control of our elections, and to do that we must put an end to partisan gerrymandering.

“A huge task such as this requires that we choose a place to start: to fix our broken politics, we must first take back control of our elections, and to do that we must put an end to partisan gerrymandering.”

First, a brief primer for those unfamiliar with gerrymandering. Every 10 years, the federal government conducts the census, after which seats in Congress are re-apportioned among the states based on relative shifts in population. After each census, the states undertake the process of redistricting — new election district maps are re-drawn to account for the change in the number of seats. In practice, all the districts, state and Congressional, are subject to change, so the district maps can change significantly every 10 years.

Our system of redistricting is inherently corrupt: the party that controls the state legislature draws the boundaries of the districts for every state and federal elected official. As you might imagine, the party in power uses this authority to draw maps that magnify its own power and weaken that of its opposition, often resulting in monstrously bizarre districts; the first such district was called the “Gerrymander,” and that name has come to describe any district drawn with absurd boundaries that serve partisan ends. Texas, as it turns out, has been one of the worst offenders — for decades, Democrats drew shamelessly gerrymandered districts, and Republicans are now returning the favor with a vengeance.

As an example of the power of partisan gerrymandering, consider the effect of Texas’ 2003 off-cycle redistricting, engineered by Tom DeLay. Prior to the redistricting, Democrats held 17 Congressional seats to Republicans’ 15; after the election following the redistricting, Republicans controlled 21 seats to the Democrats’ 11, a 6 seat swing. This huge swing was not the result of changes in population or a wave of political change; it was due almost entirely to how lines were drawn on a map. This is what happens when legislators are allowed to choose their voters.

“This huge swing was not the result of changes in population or a wave of political change; it was due almost entirely to how lines were drawn on a map.”

Partisan gerrymandering has tremendously corrosive effects upon our democratic system. Its tainted process and the absurd districts it produces are tangible evidence to the electorate that the system is rigged, eroding their faith in our elections. Gerrymandered districts can span hundreds of miles, joining together dissimilar communities with no real connection, resulting in “representatives” who represent little beyond raw, partisan power. The near-certainty of incumbent reelection in gerrymandered districts depresses turnout, discourages challengers from running, and contributes to elections being determined by small percentages of voters in increasingly partisan primaries. Artificially large legislative majorities are constructed, producing skewed policy outcomes and a false impression of ideological dominance. Partisan gerrymandering is a perversion of democracy, sacrificing fair elections and faithful representation to partisan advantage and the will to power.

This corrupt process has always been a problem in American politics, but the need to end it is greater now than it has ever been. The advent of Big Data and sophisticated statistical analysis have made it possible for parties to combine electoral, demographic, and consumer preference information in a way that allows them to predict with great accuracy how people will vote down to an almost individual level. The result is partisan gerrymanders of exceptional precision and durability, endowing dominant parties with artificially large majorities that are stable, even in the face of large changes in voter preference. These technical capabilities have only advanced since the 2010 redistricting, promising to make the next round of partisan redistricting even worse.

“Victory is possible: over 70% of Americans oppose partisan gerrymandering regardless of their political affiliation.”

We must act now, or risk America becoming a democracy in name only. This fight will not be short or easy — powerful entrenched interests in both parties do not want to surrender the power and security they gain from this corrupt system. Victory is possible: over 70% of Americans oppose partisan gerrymandering regardless of their political affiliation. Defending this system of institutionalized cheating is impossible, and no elected official wants to do it. If we are loud enough, organized enough, and persistent enough, we can force our representatives to publicly answer the question they do not want to hear: will you end partisan gerrymandering, or will you defend it? Faced with defending the indefensible, their system will crumble and we will take our first step in reclaiming the republic for the people.

Call to Action:

Call Cindy Burkett, chair of House Redistricting Committee, and Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives about Congressional district Redistricting. Ask why there aren’t hearings being held on bills that could end hyper-partisan, racist gerrymandering of Congressional districts in Texas. Bills awaiting hearing in committee are HJR 32/HB 369, HJR 74, and HJR 118. NONE of the redistricting bills introduced over the past 4 cycles have been called to hearing. That means that in the past 8 years, every effort to de-gerrymander Texas has been ignored.

Thanks to Degerrymander Texas. More info here.

On calling the House Redistricting and Senate State Affairs committees

Greetings redistricting warriors! I have some pointers for how to approach your calls to House and Senate committee members. I am not a fan of supplying scripts — according to a recent article in the New Yorker, scripted calls are more likely to be ignored. If you can put key ideas into your own words, your call will have more impact as it will be more organic. To that end, I have generated a list of bullet points to consider before you make your calls. Think about them, figure out how to organize them, and express them in your own language. Don’t feel compelled to hit every one, or even any of them if you feel uncomfortable — the most important thing is to make the call and have your position logged; anything beyond that is a bonus!

If you are the type that likes to engage, remember to be respectful — it’s easy to get worked-up. Stay calm, but be persistent; staffers will be polite but will, in general, be politely blowing you off. When you talk to committee members about redistricting, consider the following points:

  • In light of the recent court ruling striking down racially gerrymandered districts, Texas is in danger of needing federal pre-clearance of district maps under the Civil Rights Act. A truly independent redistricting commission would shield Texas from federal oversight.
  • There is a large, bipartisan majority of voters (> 80%) in favor of some form of independent non/bipartisan redistricting
  • Redistricting is an issue that affects every Texan — at the very least, it deserves a public hearing.
  • You will likely be told the member has not looked into the bill — ask why the member has still not looked into this important issue.
  • Ask for a direct answer on the member’s views on redistricting: does he/she prefer partisan or non-partisan redistricting? The staffer will not give you an answer — request that they get back to you with the member’s answer.

I think that last bullet point is the most important one. The more we ask, the more likely we are to get an answer. If we can compile a list of members that oppose redistricting, we have the makings of a press release about committee members who support gerrymandering and may be able to generate more press interest. If they refuse to answer, that itself can be the basis for a story — committee members refuse to take a stand on gerrymandering.

If you are a repeat caller like me, you’ll find it more useful to focus your attention on the chair and vice-chair because what we want at this point is a public hearing, and they have control over such procedural matters. If they continue to refuse to consider public hearings, we can go to the press and try to push the story that the committees are blocking public hearings because they prefer Texas’ partisan gerrymandering.

Senate Committee on State Affairs committee members

House Redistricting Committee members