Texas is a mess right now. Joanna Cattanach’s House campaign is a must-win if we want to help fix it.

Texas has become the US’s new coronavirus hot spot, with skyrocketing cases setting records nearly every day, hospitalizations rising, and deaths beginning to pile up. It’s both tragic and infuriating, because the situation was entirely avoidable. Instead of practicing smart public health policy, the Republicans caved to the far-right MAGA brigade, taking precious few precautions and lifting even those absurdly early. Now, it’s a runaway train, and the state’s GOP leadership might as well have tied Texans to the rails.

The silver lining is that Texans are increasingly outraged at their state government and ready to make a change. Cities are beginning to require masks, police reforms are being approved by city councils, Confederate monuments are being torn down, and Democrats are making gains. In fact, Dems need just nine seats to take back the State House, and a few of them are big, juicy, flippable targets. That includes the 108th House District, which Democrats lost by a mere 220 votes in 2018.

That’s the race we’re focusing on today — not only will it be super-close, but a win will also represent a further transformation of Texas’s big cities and proof that running everywhere is key to Democratic success.

Joanna Cattanach spent nearly 15 years as a respected journalist in Texas, covering local news and politics as objectively as possible. But after the 2016 election and the 2017 legislative session, which was bigoted and damaging even by Texas Republican standards, she’d seen enough. Instead of covering elections, she was going to run for office herself.

There were two pieces of legislation in particular that convinced Cattanach that dire action was required. As a Latina (and human), the passage of SB 4, the state’s infamous “Show Me Your Papers” Law, absolutely enraged her, while the signing of HB 3859, a “religious liberty” law that allowed adoption agencies to discriminate against prospective parents for just about anything — sexuality, religion, insufficient church attendance numbers, you name it — proved to be the last straw.

“I am a former foster care child and I thought that was unbelievably appalling,”  Cattanach tells Progressives Everywhere. “It was a breaking point for me. I reached out to some of our local media and said, ‘would you like to talk to a former foster care child?’ And that was it.”

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Akilah ‘Brass Balls’ Bacy is a Texas badass

Flipping a state blue significantly improves peoples’ lives. Turning Texas blue has long been a brass ring for progressives, and as we get closer, Republicans are starting to fight back. Such was the case in the special election in HD-28, where Democrats had a great candidate and lots of energy but were overwhelmed by the Republican’s money (newly elected Rep. Gary Gates self-funded over $1 million) and every statewide elected official’s help.

We can’t be discouraged. There’s too much at stake — and some important math. There are 15 seats that were decided by closer margins than HD-28 in 2018, and Democrats only need to take 9 of them. Plus, they have an awesome candidate in HD-138, a suburban Houston district that was decided by just 47 votes in 2018.

Normally, a candidate who loses by just 47 votes decides to run again, especially after the incumbent announces they’re retiring. But in this case, 2018’s Democrat decided to step aside and back Akilah Bacy, a tireless legal warrior for the community and one of the most compelling candidates I’ve interviewed here at Progressives Everywhere.

When I called Akilah last Sunday, it was 7pm and very dark outside, but she was just wrapping up a weekend of door-to-door canvassing in her western Houston community. I was drained from a weekend of hanging with friends; she was bubbling with energy after two days spent walking and talking with voters.

“While I’m a new candidate, I’m not new to the community,” Bacy told me. “I grew up around the area and I’ve always been involved, working in the legal field first as a prosecutor and then doing defense work and then employment discrimination work. I always believe that you grow where you’re planted.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Akilah Bacy’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

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Eliz Markowitz is running in the first big race of 2020

All political analysts’ eyes are on Iowa and New Hampshire right now, but they should really be looking at what’s happening down in Texas: On January 28, the state will hold a special election runoff in the 28th district of the State House of Representatives. Why is it so crucial? Democrats are now down just nine seats in the chamber, as we’ve noted before, and this one is a great flip target.

The fact that Dems have the good fortune of running such an impressive candidate in the district makes it an even more exciting race. And given Eliz Markowitz’s backstory, it’s very easy to want to chip in and support her.

In 2018, Markowitz ran what she calls a “one-woman show” during her first-ever campaign, an uphill battle for a seat on the Texas State Board of Education. She served as her own campaign manager and “ran around Southeast Texas,” she says, pushing herself in a longshot race in a very red gerrymandered district and pulling to less than a 10 point margin.

She bounced back and ran a strong race in a special election for the State House this fall, qualifying for the District 28 runoff against Republican Gary Gates, a perennial loser best known as a “slumlord.” Now, her campaign has a bit more help — Beto O’Rourke has been working on her behalf, and Michael Bloomberg visited on Sunday. Build it and they will come.

Yet in conversation, Markowitz prefers to focus on the issues, including education, healthcare access, and gun violence. She’s not running for the notoriety or power, a fact confirmed by the roundabout way she got into politics in the first place.

Markowitz began her career in computer science, working for the Princeton Review. She thought she was going to go down the corporate path, she says, and got her master’s degree in business. Then tragedy struck. “My mom unexpectedly passed away and I moved back to Houston to be with my dad, who is my best friend,” Markowitz explains. “My mom had suffered from addiction for her entire life, and so I wanted to do something that was actually helping people from falling through the cracks of our healthcare system.”

eliz beto

CLICK HERE to donate to Eliz Markowitz’s campaign at Progressive Everywhere’s ActBlue Page!

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Flipping Texas blue means lifting the cloud of dark right wing money

The most malignant and reviled Republicans in Texas is retiring in 2020, which is good news in and of itself. The even better news is that we have a chance to flip his seat blue.

I mentioned him briefly a few newsletters ago, but I really want to give district 92’s Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s record of neanderthal, hateful politics its proper humiliation and exposure, because it’s part of a much larger problem that still threatens millions of people and democracy in general.

Stickland himself is best known for killing countless bills in the legislature, voting against public education and public health, and boorish persona (the guy even voted against declaring June Veteran Suicide and PTSD Awareness Month). His Facebook page is a swirling cesspool of smug, far-right “jokes” and conspiracies, the sort of stuff that should get someone a place on a government watchlist, not a government salary. Here are a few “highlights” on different issues.

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Previewing special elections in January and early February: A rising Democratic star, wingnut Republicans

Thought election season was over? Sorry, to paraphrase Jimmy Buffet and people who enjoy life more than me, it’s always election season somewhere.

January 8th

Virginia: Special election for State Senate, District 33

Democrat Jennifer Wexton won her race for Congress this fall, necessitating a special election to fill her northern Virginia State Senate. Wexton was first elected to the seat in a 2014 special election and won a full term in 2015. She won that race by 13% and the seat has been in Democratic hands since the 2005 election, making it a pretty safe blue seat.

Still, given the tight margins of the Virginia State Senate —- Republicans hold a two-seat majority — it’s important to not take anything for granted.

The Democratic nominee for this special election is Jennifer Boysko, who represents the 86th district in the House of Delegates. She has a long history in Democratic and progressive activism, having gotten involved with the Dean campaign early on in the 2004 election cycle. She wound up chairing Howard Dean’s campaign in Virginia, then ran for office herself for the first time in 2012. After losing by 32 votes, Boysko ran again and won her rematch for the House of Delegates in 2014.

During this very shortened campaign, Boysko has focused mostly on economic opportunity, pushing for independent redistricting to break the GOP’s gross gerrymander in Virginia, and reducing gun violence.

CLICK HERE to donate to Boysko’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

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