Steve October 11, 2020

Republicans have controlled Texas for too long and have grown comfortable enough to overlook arrogance and embrace corruption. It’s time for them to be put out to pasture.

Many Texas voters– particularly in the suburbs and exurbs around Dallas-Ft Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio– are sick of Trump and giving up on his enablers. And whether Biden wins the state’s 38 electoral votes or not, Texas is likely to flip as many as half a dozen congressional seats and possibly the state House as well.

Today, as the election barrels towards a denouement, we want to focus on the two most important congressional candidates running in Texas, Mike Siegel (TX-10) and Julie Oliver (TX-25), each in a gerrymandered district carved out of Travis County (Austin) and meant to dilute the votes of Austin Democrats by including rural and suburban counties that were GOP safe zones when the districts were drawn. Those “safe zones” are no longer safe, and both Siegel and Oliver made tremendous headway against the GOP incumbents in 2018. Each is back to finish the job in November.

And each is polling so strongly that a reluctant DCCC— never eager to endorse outright progressives in “red” districts– was forced to add both Siegel and Oliver to their Red to Blue list this month. This morning, Siegel told us how clearly he understands the stakes. “When I beat Michael McCaul on November 3,” he said, “it will send shockwaves through the political establishment. I’m running hard on the Green New Deal, to create millions of jobs while addressing climate change and the legacy of environmental racism. And when I defeat one of the wealthiest members of Congress, a person who has more money personally invested in oil and gas than any person in the House or Senate, in a district specifically gerrymandered to protect him (because his father-in-law is a media empire billionaire), and in a district that contains numerous fossil fuel concerns in the Houston “oil patch”– that victory will make history.

It will help to dispel this idea that to flip a red seat you need to be ‘moderate.’ It will show that progressive policies like the Green New Deal are winning issues BECAUSE they are bold, because they meet the scale of the crises we face. This victory will be about more than one seat, it will be about the movement.

Siegel, a civil rights attorney and a life-long union guy, is all about solidarity. He was quick to turn the conversation towards his neighbor and fellow-progressive. “And the same goes for my compatriot Julie Oliver. She is probably the most articulate House challenger right now when it comes to Medicare for All. Because of her personal story and her family’s struggles with health care companies, and also because of her work as a lawyer with intricate knowledge of health insurance and spending, she is the perfect advocate for a national, comprehensive, single-payer healthcare system. And her opponent is a caricature of a wealthy, bigoted, out-of-touch Texas Republican.

Who would you rather have as a representative, a grifting car salesman or a healthcare advocate and mom who is unafraid to knock every door in her 13-county district, who has fought for Medicare for All even when it wasn’t universally popular, and who continues to lead on the most important issue during a national health crisis? I’ll take Julie, thank you very much!”

He concluded that “The two of us– staunch progressives who have built powerful campaigns that are even winning support from the political establishment– have the opportunity to change the narrative of Texas politics. We can help usher in a new wave of progressivism in the South. As Bernie’s recent town hall said, ‘As Texas goes, so does America.’ So let’s make that real– and win in November!”

Goal ThermometerPlease consider contributing what you can to both Mike Siegel and Julie Oliver by clicking on the Blue America 2020 Texas thermometer on the right.

Julie told us that “As the mother of a kid with pre-existing conditions and as someone with 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, I understand exactly how the healthcare industry has failed Texans, how we can fund it more equitably and responsibly, and how our own Republican members of Congress worked to undermine care for millions of Americans.

Both Roger Williams and Mike’s Republican opponent Michael McCaul have voted more than 50 times to take healthcare from millions of Americans, including cancer patients, sick children, the elderly, and people with disabilities right here in Texas. They’ve voted at least ten times to end protections for people with pre-existing conditions, like the one my son has.

So for me–just as it is for hundreds of thousands of people here in our district whose healthcare is threatened by our own Congressman–this was deeply personal.

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Image from: Stephen Stillman, Austin American Statesman

As much about solidarity as Siegel, she said that “both Mike and I believe that real change is never top-down– it is built and informed by Texas communities. That is why both of us have run such organizing-first, grassroots campaigns, with an emphasis on coalition building, working in solidarity with communities that the political status quo has ignored for too long– whether that’s blue collar Texans who haven’t seen a pay increase; those who are being priced out of their own communities due to the soaring costs of healthcare, tuition, and housing; or the communities in Texas most severely impacted by climate change.

And the natural byproduct of actually showing up and listening to the people that Congress is supposed to serve– not corporations, not DC elites– is that we’re rooting out corruption and ending the era of pay-for-play politics.

Both Mike and I are political outsiders. I’m confident that neither of us can be arm-twisted behind closed doors, and we’re not afraid to stand up to corrupt politicians and special interests. For too long, career politicians like Roger Williams and Michael McCaul have taken advantage of hardworking families while they use their office to enrich themselves. And it’s time for real, positive change for Texas.”

Thanks for always doing what you can to help make this a better world,

Howie, for the entire Blue America team

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