By Nicole Scott, NDG Contributing Writer
On Nov. 6 voters will choose the next Senator of Texas, who will hold the 36 seats in the House and a number of other key State positions. What will not be included on the ballot this time around are any measures, no voter ID laws and no propositions on the ballot. Instead, the people of Texas will be choosing between two starkly contrasting ideologies. Make no doubt about it; this is exactly the dichotomy of the political climate we are facing in this upcoming election. It is a battle between those who wish to see America return to a historical place in time of separation and inequality, ‘the good ole days’, as some would call it and those who wish to see America move forward towards a more diversified and equitable society.
A prime example of this is Senatorial Republican Candidate Ted Cruz’s comment at the Republican National Convention, “Stand together with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Restore the American love story.” The definition of restore is to bring back to a former place or position. When we look at a former America, a time when African-Americans, women and other minorities were prevented from voting, did not have access and opportunities to better their lot in life, is this the love story Cruz and his ilk wish to restore?
Texas, since the 1950’s, has been a red state and extremely conservative and its representatives reflect that. In fact the last Democratic Presidential candidate to win the state of Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Bob Krueger was the last Democrat to serve as a Senator from Texas in 1993. More than a two-thirds Republican majority controls the Texas House of Representatives and the Senate has close to a two-thirds majority. The GOP holds every statewide office and position. Because of these facts, the state Senate race between Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis and Republican Representative Mark Shelton is one of the closest watched matches this election cycle. Davis’ election would be key to blocking GOP legislature. Were she to lose Republicans would face little to no opposition passing through bills; bills which Democrats and Progressives alike consider to be extreme. Or voting against Democratic sponsored legislature, even when considered bi-partisan, as Representative Shelton did. Such was the case with SB 1636, better known as the “Rape Kit Bill” which helped to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits by creating a timeline and structure for the collection and testing of sexual assault evidence. Shelton has also repeatedly stated he is opposed to the Affordable Healthcare Act and his objective is to replace legislatures who support it. He is a Tea Party Candidate and proudly acknowledges this touting his “conservative family values.” Matt Glazer, executive director of the activist group Progress Texas is calling this race the most critical in all of Texas.
Another pivotal race Texans should be following is Congressional District 14, Ron Paul’s seat. Republican candidate Randy Weber of Pearland and Beaumont native Democrat Congressman Nick Lampson are seeking Congressman Paul’s seat. Although Congressman Lampson is well known and respected in his region the race is still expected to be close. Weber is counting on what he considers to be Democratic unpopularity in the district as well as their conservative standing.
“This is not a good time to be a Democrat in Texas, or in this district, with Obamacare at the top of the ticket,” Weber claimed. It is considered to be Republican territory based on the results of prior elections. Governor Rick Perry won in 2012 carrying almost 56 percent of the vote. Two years prior to that in his presidential bid Senator John McCain took 57 percent of the vote. Just as the other Tea Party backed candidates Weber espouses the same ideologies, small government, cutbacks to social programs, which assist the poor and people of color and “conservative family values.” He co-authored the trans-vaginal ultrasound bill, which requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a mandatory sonogram and sign an affidavit declaring the physician attempted to find a heartbeat and provide a detailed description of the development of the fetus.
African-Americans, Latinos, women and any disenfranchised people in the state of Texas should be highly concerned. There is much at stake in this upcoming election and no time for apathy. Unfortunately Texas’ history doesn’t give us much hope for optimism. The lone star state has one of the worst voter participation records in the entire country. In the 2006 general election, Texas ranked 48th among states for voter turnout. In the presidential election of 2008 it ranked 47th and in 2010 it was last. This past May only 1 in 10 voters in Dallas and Fort Worth actually cast a ballot in the primary elections. With numbers like this it is no wonder Texas passes some of the most oppressive and regressive legislature in the country.
First Day of Early Voting: Monday, Oct. 22
Last Day of Early Voting: Friday, Nov. 2
Election Day: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 – Polls are open 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Remember: If you vote on Election Day, you must vote in the polling place designated for your precinct.