2020 presidential election

Texas Just Shutting Down All Polling Places That Aren't At Ted Cruz's House

Shameful yet predictable, isn't it?

The saying goes that Texas isn't truly a "red" state; it's a non-voting state. Texas ranked 41st in the nation for voter turnout in 2018 — the year of the Blue Wave, when nationwide turnout was through the roof. Texas is the second-largest US state, so that's especially alarming.

Why don't Texans vote? It's not that they just don't give a damn: Texas officials go out of their way to keep Texans from voting. Last year, Texas closed down more polling places than any other state. According to a report from the Leadership Conference Education Fund, Texas closed down 750 polls since 2012. The closures are obviously and grossly targeted to disenfranchise minorities.

From The Guardian:

McLennan county, home to Waco, Texas, closed 44% of its polling places from 2012 to 2018, despite the fact that its population grew by more than 15,000 people during the same time period, with more than two-thirds of that growth coming from Black and Latinx residents.

It's shameful, and more evidence that Chief Justice John Roberts helped make Jim Crow great again when he gutted the Voting Rights Act. It doesn't even matter whether deliberate malice or incredible naïveté motivated Roberts, the ramifications have been grotesque.

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Part-Time Truck Driver Ted Cruz Defends Hardworkin' Americans From Latte-Sippin' Liberals

Now, we remember why it was so much fun watching Cruz lose to Donald Trump.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is this week, and Republicans gathered to confront the looming threats to America, which this year is everyone they hate, same as last year and the year before that. This ranges from Mitt Romney to actual liberals who've done more than just personally offend Donald Trump.

Thursday, Ted Cruz and his rubbish beard described the scourge of liberalism in terms you might've heard at an Occupy Wall Street rally. He went full class warfare on Democrats, whom he laughably claimed are the "party of the rich." Yep, the big money left sings while the working-class slaves.

CRUZ: Today, the Democrats are the party of Hollywood celebrities, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street titans. They sip their lattes and they look down on working-class Americans.

Wow! He found us out. Every Democratic voter fits into at least one of those three categories. And we all love lattes. We're too arrogant and elitist to worry about lactose intolerance.

CRUZ: On the other hand, working men and women here, union members. Blue-collar union members used to form the heart of the Democratic Party -- FDR Democrats, who became Reagan Democrats and today they're Trump Democrats.
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2020 Congressional Elections

Martha McSally Insults CNN Reporter, Makes In-Kind Donation To Mark Kelly's Campaign

McSally calls reporter 'liberal hack' on her way to serving as Trump's political hack.

You could almost feel sorry for Martha McSally (please don't). Arizona's junior senator was appointed to her job after voters already rejected her. Now she'll have to face Democrat Mark Kelly in a real election this year, and real elections are hard. She tried raising money like a good Republican. McSally Inc brought in more than $4 million in the final three months of 2019. Her total fundraising for the year was $12 million, and she rang in 2020 with more than $7.6 million cash on hand. That is objectively good news if viewed in a total vacuum.

Ruh-roh! Kelly, who rejected corporate PAC money and must soldier on with just "pocket change," outraised McSally. He brought in $6.3 million in the last quarter, and he's sitting on top of $13.6 million in cash. He's consistently outperformed her fundraising numbers, and she's the incumbent senator. Of course, Kelly has the advantage of not sucking.

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State/Local Politics

Beto O'Rourke Doing Kickflips ... On The Texas House

The best House-flipping show there is.

Beto O'Rourke, the angsty smart annoying inspirational former congressman who we fell in love with when he ran against Ted Cruz and then fell out of love with when he ran for president, is now doing something wonderfully useful with the donor/email list he built up during his two campaigns. No, he's not running for Senate. That ship got torpedoed -- for Texas in 2020 at least -- by Beto's own call to ban and buy back assault rifles. It's a great idea for America, which is precisely why it's electoral poison for Texas at large. For now.

Instead of running himself, O'Rourke is campaigning for a far more achievable goal: electing enough Democrats to the Texas House of Representatives to flip it blue. That might sound like a crazy notion, but only if you haven't been following Texas politics. As O'Rourke points out in tweets and an email blast, in the 2018 midterms, 17 Republicans in the Texas House won their races by less than 10 points. Flip just nine of those seats in 2020, and control of the Texas House goes to Democrats.

O'Rourke's email says that's a very realistic goal:

There are almost 90,000 people in these 17 target districts who have voted Democrat in the past but aren't registered to vote at their current address.

We only have to win nine of these seats for Democrats to have a majority in the Texas legislature. Victories in these districts will mean an end to racist gerrymandering, and a chance to address gun violence, reproductive rights, Medicaid expansion, criminal justice and climate change in Texas.

O'Rourke is urging his supporters to contribute to Flip the Texas House, a group that grew out of his 2018 Senate run. Contributions will pay to send unregistered folks who previously voted Democrat "pre-filled voter registration forms with stamped return envelopes" Easy-peasy! At least, the registration outreach part, which is an absolutely vital first step.

Of those 17 targeted districts, O'Rourke notes, nine of 'em voted for him in 2018, so a Democrat can definitely win there if there are enough Dems registered to vote. (Yes, yes, finding good candidates is kind of important, too! And GOTV! And canvassing!)

You want a map? Here's a map, from Flip the Texas House. Some of those crazy district shapes give you a good idea of why it might be better to have another party drawing the district lines, huh?

The Houston Chronicle points out the targeted districts are clustered in the kinds of areas where Democrats have been making gains nationwide: 10 are

in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and five are in and around Houston. One is in San Antonio and one is in Killeen.

The push follows a 2018 cycle in which Democrats flipped 12 Texas House seats from Republican control. Texas Democrats have not had the majority of seats in the Texas House since 2001.

Seems like it's high time to change that, huh? NINE SEATS. Redistricting is in the balance. And the Texas GOP is already freaking out about the possibility of challenges to incumbents making some of those races even harder to win.

It won't happen without a lot of work, but it's an awfully exciting prospect. Can't you just imagine how tickled the sainted Molly Ivins would be to see the Texas House go blue again? We'll close with a favorite Molly quote, a fine mantra for a campaign -- even if it's a bit long to chant in full:

So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.

Go, Texas. And allies from the other 49 stars on the flag. Let's flip the Texas House!

[Houston Chronicle / Daily Kos / Texas Tribune / NBC News / FLIP the Texas House / Photo by Edward Jackson, Wikimedia Commons]

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