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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I have told people many times that yes, there are Democrats in Texas.

To no one's surprise Wendy Davis secured the Democratic nomination for Texas Governor. As did Leticia Van de Putte who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor.

For the first time in Texas history, women are running for the top two offices in Texas.

Rep. Mark Veasey (D, TX-33) won his primary election. Veasey was elected to the newly created Texas 33rd Congressional District that spans from Fort Worth to Dallas in 2012. The congressman sits on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology and is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the LGBT Equality Caucus.

Veasey faces a Libertarian and an Independent candidate in the November general so he will very likely be sworn in for a second term in the US House come January 2015.

There were not too many other surprises for Democrats in Congressional races on Primary Night. Rep. Joaquín Castro (D, TX-20), the twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, did not have a challenger in the primary and like Veasey, will only face token opposition from third parties in November. I still think that he is someone to watch in a few years. Rep. Castro is scheduled to keynote the Colorado Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on 12 April.

The only congressional district that is up for grabs in Texas is TX-23 represented by Pete Gallego. Though Gallego won the district in 2012, the district voted for Romney by 2 points. It is one of those districts that voted one party for the US House but voted the other party in the Presidential election. The district has a Cook VPI of Republican +3.

Gallego's opponent will not be determined until late May as former Congressman Quico Canseco tries to force a rematch, but first has to defeat Will Hurd in the Republican primary runoff. Expect both sides to pour a lot of money into this seat as it could determine control of the US House.

Much like the Republican primary, there was a bit of anti-incumbency fever among Democrats.

Rep. Lon Burnam (D, TX HD-90) was defeated by Ramon Romero Jr. by less than 125 votes. Burnam survived a challenge by former Fort Worth school board member Carlos Vasquez in 2012, but was unable to beat back this challenger in 2014.

There were two factors that led to Burnam's defeat. Romero was backed by an out-of-Texas special interest group advocating for charter schools and this is a big one: the changing demographics of the urban Fort Worth district as it shifts from a coalition district to one with a majority Hispanic population.

Most political observers felt that Burnam's defeat was inevitable due to these demographic shifts. Results like this in future elections will continue to happen as the Hispanic population becomes more influential in Texas over the next couple of election cycles.

Because of no opposition in November, Romero is designated Representative-elect.

Lon Burnam's defeat is a blow to many progressive policies that he advocated for. In 2013, Burnam announced that he was sponsoring a bill that would overturn Texas' ban on same-sex marriages and expand marriage to include same-sex marriages.

Burnam's defeat can serve as an opportunity for other people to carry on his legacy on LGBT advocacy. Two Democrats I am looking at to do this: Mary González (D, TX HD-75) and Celia Israel (D, TX HD-50). Israel was elected to the district via a special election in January and will have to run for her seat again in the November general.

González will be entering her second term in the Texas Legislature as she will not have an opponent in the November general. Because of her presence, González was able to push back against some anti-LGBT legislation that was proposed by the Texas Lege in 2013.

I keep saying: Mary González's star is on the rise.

On the subject of falling stars, incumbent Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D, TX HD-76) failed to make the runoff. This election was not the end of her career. Ms. Gonzalez's career ended on 14 March 2013 when she was arrested on suspicion for driving while intoxicated due to an accident she caused in Austin that injured a bicyclist.

Thank goodness no one was killed.

I still believe that Ms. Gonzalez should have resigned her seat when the incident happened. Voters in her district took care of that for her on Primary Night.

While there is much to celebrate on the Democratic side, there are a couple of races that I feel need to be discussed in greater detail.

In the meantime, on to November.

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