Notes & Noticias – United We Win

Dear Friends,

Now that the legislative session is finally adjourned, I’ve enjoyed spending more time in our community, talking with folks about what we accomplished this session and what we can do with new leadership in Texas.

I’m all the more excited by the news that Senator Wendy Davis is giving strong consideration to running for governor. For months, I’ve watched as some members of the media have questioned why Democrats have so few statewide candidates.

It’s not just about how many candidates a party can field in its primaries — it’s about who nominates leaders ready to address the real challenges we’re facing in Texas.

Below, read more about how Democrats can stay united and win, and check out our first “Spotlight on…” profile, which will feature a local business or community leader each week! First up, my favorite spot for huevos a la Mexicana.

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United We Win

For months, I’ve watched the Texas media comment on the lack of Democrats announcing for statewide races in 2014, while seemingly dozens of Republicans have launched their campaigns.

But let’s face facts: Republicans have to start early to survive their primaries. While some Republicans are busy racing to the far right in their bids for statewide office, other Republican state representatives are already being challenged from the far right for their votes this past session.

Should Wendy Davis decide to run — and put me on the record as yet another Texas Democrat encouraging her to go for it — our party will be able to put together a strong statewide slate of candidates offering real solutions and real leadership.

Just look at some of the Republican candidates announced so far.

My Republican colleague Dan Branch, running for Attorney General, voted for an amendment this session that would no longer require campus student organizations to abide by universities’ non-discrimination policies, and allow student groups to openly discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexuality, gender identity or expression, religion, or disability. That’s hardly the legal vision we need from someone running to be the “people’s lawyer” in a state as diverse as Texas.

Senator Dan Patrick, running for Lieutenant Governor, has seemingly made it his mission in life to defund our public schools and make them as ill-prepared as possible to educate our children. Not only has he voted repeatedly for budgets that fail to provide enough funds for public education, he has also advocated for vouchers that would further remove resources from our schools. He also led a crusade against a statewide curriculum service that provides lesson plan resources to 877 Texas school districts. These plans are particularly useful for some of our most cash-strapped school districts.

Greg Abbott, our current Attorney General and the presumed Republican nominee for Governor, describes his job as “I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home.” Abbott has sued the federal government 25 times, costing the state more than $2.5 million dollars and using more than 14,000 staff hours, at a time when we can hardly afford it.

And of course, they’re all strongly against a woman’s right to choose, they oppose the Medicaid expansion provided in the Affordable Care Act that would provide some 1.2 million low-income Texans with health care, and they all have a history of voting to slash funds from our kids’ public schools.

I’m confident that Democrats will end up with a strong slate of statewide candidates that will provide a compelling alternative to the extremism offered by their Republican opponents.

So while Republican candidates may have start early, they need all of that extra time to alienate the moderate and independent voters waiting in the general election. And this cycle, I’m excited that those same voters will have a strong slate of Democratic candidates to consider as a viable alternative.

Spotlight On: Juan in a Million

Now that session is out, I’ll be switching out my usual “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” for a spotlight on a local business or community leader in House District 51.

First up, an East Austin institution and a place I’m sure all of us have visited: Juan in a Million.

Juan Meza opened the business in 1980, and has been serving up a menu of Tex-Mex classics to our community ever since. The restaurant is one of Austin’s more iconic, in large part because of their gigantic “Don Juan” taco, but my favorite breakfast is huevos a la Mexicana.

I stopped by this week to visit with Juan Jr. and some of the regulars. I love the food at Juan’s, and try to hold as many meetings here as my schedule allows. I know I’ll always find friends here, and it’s a great place to talk politics and keep up with all of the action in the neighborhood.

Thanks to Juan, Juan Jr., and all of the staff for their hard work keeping this special place going. I look forward to more visits to Juan in a Million now that we’re finally out of session.

Back To School Fair This Weekend

This weekend, the Dove Springs Recreation Center will host a school supply giveaway for families getting ready to head back to school.

The organizers are still in need of donations, so if you can spare pencils, paper, or backpacks, please contribute to this important cause.

All of our kids deserve a strong start as they head back to school. More information is available on my Facebook page.

Thanks for reading Notes and Noticias!