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Texas House of Representatives. Photo by Edward Jackson, Wikimedia Commons

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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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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