So, we’ve now reached the point where Texas, fucking TEXAS, is considered a swing state. I’ve already written about the 2018 Senate race a number of times, so I’ll direct your attention to my previous piece. The short version is that the 2018 Democratic nominee in the Texas Senate race, Beto O’Rourke, came within a few percentage points of beating the incumbent Ted Cruz. This was noteworthy not just because a Democrat almost won in Texas, but also because said Democrat almost beat a former Presidential candidate by running on progressive ideas like Medicare for All… at first.
Unfortunately, Beto always showed a few cracks in his campaign, such as his moderate past or the fact that he was not fully clear about Medicare for All. Beto was, at one point, considered a rising start in his party and was even one of the big names in the 2020 Presidential campaign at one point, but most of us realized that his 2018 performance was a major fluke when he started to pivot to the center. He no longer supported Medicare for All but instead offered a knockoff plan called “Medicare for America” that was like Medicare for All, but doesn’t remove private insurance so that Americans still have the choice over which Mafia-esque middle man price gouges them to death.
He didn’t do too well in the election because Pete Buttigieg already filled the niche of a corporate sociopath doing a shitty Obama impression. So he then had a fall from grace so devastating that it will only be outdone when Elizabeth Warren inevitably crashes into the abyss and is unable to slither back out. Beto can’t even run for Senate again because he no longer has his progressive supporters and because he came out in favor of gun confiscation in one of the debates, which means that he’s as good as dead to any moderates.
So Beto’s career is as good as dead and Julian Castro was too busy trying in vain to stay in the Presidential race that he missed the filing deadline, so neither of the obvious choices ending up in the Senate race. This has resulted in one of the most crowded Senate primaries this cycle with twelve candidates running for the Democratic nomination. To quote one of my partners, “I didn’t even know there were that many Democrats in Texas!”
The current front runner is MJ Hegar, a corporate centrist who almost beat Texas’s 31st Congressional House incumbent John Carter in 2018. One of the many reasons I am making these pieces is because I found my previous Senate pieces naively optimistic about certain candidates, particularly the corporate neoliberal pawns that the Democratic establishment sets up to be the front runner in every major election.
One will notice this pattern even in Senate races without a Democratic incumbent. In typical establishment fashion, the corporate pawn will be a bland, corporate centrist that will never have any serious progressive policies but will have a fuck ton of money from wine cave fundraisers. Also they will say they don’t accept dark money or corporate PAC money, but instead take large individual donations from employees of a company. This is why progressives have such a large emphasis on the amount of small dollar donations, because you can tell they are from regular people.
MJ Hegar has raised over $3,000,000 dollars thus far, and that naturally draws a lot of suspicions. $1,693,711 was raised through donations over $200, and there’s a good chance that a lot of them may have come from wine cave fundraisers, and we already know she has a lot of rich Hollywood donors. $100,976 comes from PAC Contributions as well, as well as $247,334 from “other” means. It’s no wonder why she isn’t behind Medicare for All or a Green New Deal. The same can be said about candidates Royce West (who thinks trans women should be excluded from the Violence Against Women Act by the way (At 36:64 in the vid).), Chris Bell, and Amanda Edwards.
Thankfully there is more than one progressive candidate running for the nomination. The best candidate for the job would easily be Poor People’s Campaign organizer and 2018 Senate candidate Sema Hernandez. Sema has been a consistent progressive who has stuck to her principals and has been endorsed by the Rose Caucus and by Nina Turner. She also ran against Beto in the 2018 primary and managed 247,424 votes against him, which is fairly impressive considering her minuscule campaign budget.
Unfortunately that is also her biggest weakness. Sema thus far, has only raised $7,551 as of the end of September of 2019, and the fact that I can’t find her numbers afterwards indicate that it can’t be too big. On one hand, her performance against Beto shows that she knows how to make very effective use of her smaller pool of resources, but John Cornyn has raised over $16,000,000 thus far. That number is nothing compared to the budget of either candidate in the 2018 race, but when we keep in mind that Beto spent close to $80,000,000 in 2018 and still lost, it’s easy to lose confidence.
That’s what we have the primary for though, to see if Sema can overcome this financial hurdle and run away with the nomination. But if not, there are two other progressive options. The next on the list is Annie Garcia, and I only just recently looked into her campaign. I was quite impressed with what I saw, and I can tell that she actually cares about fixing this state’s problems rather than being a vapid careerist wanting to collect a paycheck.
While she is my second choice behind Sema because she has yet to say anything about a Green New Deal, seeing someone as passionate as her is rare, and the fact that she supports Medicare for All is enough to sell me on her. While Garcia has not raised anything substantial yet, she has done fairly well in the polls regardless, and in the most recent one, she was tied with the previously mentioned Royce West for 2nd place.
Then there is Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, the third progressive candidate in, although that can be called into question for a few reasons. The first of which includes her incessant leveraging of her Latino identity for political gain (along with the questionable claim that there is “power” in her name), the fact that her former campaign staffers have testified against her, and the fact that she has at least one billionaire donor.
Cristina Ramirez has thus far raised $801,535, and 81.72% of that comes from donations over $200. Considering that fact that Sema Hernandez already had a following in Texas yet has not raised even a fraction of that, it leads me to believe that Ramirez is pulling an Elizabeth Warren and getting her money from wine cave fundraisers while pretending to be progressive.
Considering that Ramirez is in second place in a lot of the polls, it seems that her facade is working, but we just know that at some point she’ll pivot to the center to please her donors and she will fall in the polls. The longer she waits, the better chance she has to snatch the nomination from MJ Hegar, but then that will just lead to a repeat of 2018. Regardless, I can guarantee that Cristina Ramirez will perform better in the general than MJ Hegar even if she DOES pivot, and the evidence is literally every Senate election before 2018.
Beto’s performance in 2018 wasn’t some magical event that happened by luck, it instead demonstrated that you need to run someone who will inspire younger voters to get out and vote rather than trying to pander to moderate Republican voters. The reason for this is because policies like Medicare for All tend to appeal more to moderate Republicans than some out of touch neoliberal pretending to care about guns and Christianity. Republicans can tell when they are being pandered to!
But that also begs the question of if Sema Hernandez or Annie Garcia could win. While the lack of funds is certainly a concern, both candidates have maintained a steady following and know how to effectively use their limited resources to their fullest. Given how crowded the race is, this could be difficult given that every candidate seems to have roughly the same size following with the exception of Ramirez and Hegar. If you want Sema or Annie to win, then the best I can say is to show your support and give what you can.
Sema Hernandez – Donation link
Annie Garcia – Donation link
3/4/2020 Update: MJ Hegar and Royce West have advanced to the runoff. This sadly did not go the way we hoped.
And that brings us to the Texas Congressional House Elections, thirty six of them in fact. Despite the massive boost in Democratic turnout in 2018, Democrats have only managed to flip two House seats with a bunch of other incumbents cutting it pretty close. Given that Texas is now considered a swing state, it is only natural that there would be increased demand for a true progressive to take office. I think it’s a good sign that sixteen of the Texas’s Congressional districts have a progressive challenger.
If I am being technical, six of those challengers are running against incumbent Democrats, but let’s not kid ourselves here; Henry Cuellar is no Democrat. Similarly to Dan Lipinski in Illinois, Henry Cuellar is a member of the “fiscally conservative” Blue Dog Coalition and is the “Democratic” incumbent of Texas’s 28th Congressional District. This means that he has accepted thousands of dollars from big oil, private prisons, the NRA, and the Koch brothers.
The phrase “fiscally conservative” is traditionally preceded by the words “socially liberal,” but that hasn’t stopped Henry Cuellar from voting in favor of federally banning same sex marriage, nor did it stop his many votes to control women’s bodies, or his vote to extend the Patriot Act or defund sanctuary cities.
After spending over a decade in congress, Henry Cuellar has attracted a long overdue challenge from the left in the form of Jessica Cisneros, who has the backing of Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, and the Sunrise Movement, in addition to being endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, Cenk Uygur, Julian Castro, Ayanna Pressley, and Pramila Jayapal. This is on top of having traditionally neoliberal PACs like Emily’s List and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund backing her because Cuellar is an anti-choice shit-goblin.
Jessica Cisneros has thus far raised $969,855, more so than Cristina Ramirez for fucks sake! While Cuellar still has more money than her due to all the corporate PACs and shit, the writing is on the wall in this one. AOC won her election despite being out-funded 10 to 1, and Cisneros has raised over $900,000 without any PACs. This is the one House race in Texas that I know for damn sure will be in progressive hands in 2021. So where does that leave the other fifteen?
3/4/2020 Update: Sadly, I was wrong about this one. Cuellar won by a slim margin, but we are unfortunately stuck with this DINO scumbag for another two years.
The next in line after Cisneros would be Mike Siegel, a progressive challenger running for the Democratic nomination against Texas’s Congressional District 10 incumbent Michael McCaul. Siegel has raised a fairly impressive $496,753, but is still being out funded by his neoliberal opponents Pritesh Gandhi and Shannon Hutcheson, who have raised $866,352 and $748,779 respectively. It IS worth mentioning though, that Siegel has raised close to 30% of his funds through small dollar donations that added up to $139,851, compared to Gandhi and Hutcheson who raised only $100,043 and $46,110 respectively.
While I can’t confirm that Gandhi and Hutcheson have participated in any wine cave fundraisers, the fact that Siegel does better with small dollar donations is more than enough to tell who has the support of the people on their side. But if that isn’t enough for you, then the fact that he already got the nomination once in 2018, and that he came closer than the polls say Hutcheson will likely will be. Siegel had the best performance against McCaul in over a decade. I can’t imagine the voters deciding to ditch him for yet another neoliberal candidate, and the inevitable increase in funding and experience means Siegel will likely perform better than in 2018.
3/4/2020 Update: Mike Siegel has managed the most votes in his primary, and has moved on to a runoff against Pritesh Gandhi.
Following Mike Siegel in terms of fundraising, we have Christine Mann who has raised $198,783 thus far. It is worth nothing that she ran against the aforementioned MJ Hegar in the primary to challenge Texas Congressional District 31 incumbent, John Carter. Mann lost by about 3000 votes in a runoff to Hegar, who then went on to lose to John Carter despite out-funding him almost 3 to 1. Mann had raised $93,842 by the end of the 2018 primary, and she has raised more than double that the second time around.
MJ Hegar is too busy running for senate so she can challenge and lose to yet another bigoted old white guy with the first name John, so it seems entirely likely that Christine Mann could have this one in the bag. But if it isn’t Christine Mann, it will likely be Donna Imam who has raised $207,532, about half of which was self funded. I’m actually unsure which one I prefer based on policy alone, but Mann seems like the better option simply because running a campaign mostly on self funding is rather sketchy and leads to shit like Mike Bloomberg buying his way into the Presidential Election, so I’m more likely to support Mann in this case.
3/4/2020 Update: Christine Mann will be facing fellow progressive Donna Imam in a runoff for the nomination.
One who read my previous pieces may have noticed that I’m skipping out on discussing the Republican incumbents this time around. I can only find so many ways to say that these bigoted old white guys are scumbags funded entirely on dark money and corporate PACs. Each of these pricks are so ridiculously interchangeable, and it’s quite clear that neither Michael McCaul or John Carter have any intention to do anything other than collect a paycheck and spout off bigoted nonsense to get re-elected.
Anyway, the next district in play for progressives is Texas’s 25th Congressional District, and it is similar to the last one in that we have two progressives vying for the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Republican Roger Williams. It is also similar in that the incumbent had their weakest performance in 2018 and that one of the progressives ran in the primary that year. There are two key differences though.
The first is that the progressive candidate, Julie Oliver, actually got the nomination in 2018 and is running again in 2020. Running against her is a new progressive challenger who is arguably an a better choice than her. While they are both in favor of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, Heidi Sloan has a greater dedication to the social movement behind these policies and thus is more likely to stick to her values and is the only one of them to actually identify as a Democratic socialist. Also Heidi Sloan is in favor of the decriminalization of sex work, while Julie Oliver has not commented on it.
I'm a farmer and community organizer running for Congress to build a movement of regular working class people. Together, we can build a better world. pic.twitter.com/X1kVWnLekZ
— Heidi Sloan (@HeidiSloanForTX) February 7, 2020
This is further reflected by the fact that Heidi Sloan has been endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, the Sunrise Movement, and by progressive Nancy Pelosi Primary challenger, Shahid Buttar. Despite this, Julie Oliver is currently beating Sloan by $200,000 in fundraising, but there is still enough room for Sloan to catch up and snatch the nomination. Given that Julie Oliver already lost once, it seems safe to assume that “do what Oliver did but more of it” is a more viable strategy than “do what Oliver did.”
3/4/2020 Update: Julie Oliver has won the nomination, but I don’t consider this a significant loss since Oliver is still a solid candidate. You can donate to her campaign here.
Jessica Cisneros is in the “I’m almost certain she’ll win” category, and Mike Siegel, Christine Mann, and Heidi Sloan are within striking distance of their respective seats. The unfortunate disadvantage to grassroots campaigns is that a lot of the support will coalesce around a few central figures. This will mean that those few figures will be given the support to compete against dark money funded incumbents, but the rest won’t be given anywhere near enough. This is why only four of the Justice Democrats endorsed challengers won in 2018.
Anyway, up next is Adrienne Bell who has raised $92,247 thus far, who is running for the Democratic nomination against Texas’s 14 Congressional District incumbent Randy Weber, who has raised $465,949 through corporate PACs and wine cave fundraisers. Normally I’d say that Adrienne Bell has a shot against Weber, and for all I know she might still have one, but I’m skeptical of her chances for a few reasons.
The first of these is that she got the nomination in 2018 and managed less than 40%. This is despite her having the backing of Justice Democrats, and being endorsed by President Obama himself. I don’t know for sure why she lost, and keep in mind that this is just speculation, but Adrienne Bell may have pivoted to the center, and that Obama endorsement is one of the reasons why I suspect as much.
Just look at the rest of the endorsements in that Obama endorsement post and you will see that they are mostly establishment figures and moderates. Obama is a neoliberal, and I have doubts that a Justice Democrats candidate could score an endorsement from him without comprising their values. Her website also makes no mention of Medicare for All, though she claims to support it on her Facebook page. Regardless, she is the most progressive candidate in her respective race, but I don’t have much faith in her doing any better this time around. I’ll keep my fingers crossed anyway though.
3/4/2020 Update: Adrienne Bell has successfully procured the nomination for her district.
The next candidate is Mat Pruneda who has raised $30,118 thus far, about half of which is self financed. I’m not overly fond of the self finance part, but I can let it slide since he is in support of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. He is running for the Democratic nomination in Texas’s 26th Congressional District, and is challenging yet another wine cave funded Republican incumbent with the first name Michael. Before he does that, he needs to beat his neoliberal primary opponent, Carol Iannuzzi, who has thus far raised $65,299, more than 3/4s of which is self funded. There is a decent chance that Pruneda could get the nomination over Iannuzzi, but the real challenge will be taking on Michael Burgess and his wine cave money. Either way, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
3/4/2020 Update: Mat Pruneda was not successful in obtaining the nomination.
Next we have Jennie Lou Leeder who has thus far raised $32,324, and is running for the Democratic nomination for Texas’s 21st Congressional District. It is worth mentioning the 2018 Democratic nominee for Texas’s 11th Congressional District, but she only managed 18.5% of the vote because it took place in an R+32 district where no Democrat would ever have a chance. So yeah, I don’t blame her for trying again in a different district.
Unfortunately things still won’t be easy for Leeder since she has to deal with not only the incumbent Chip Roy and his $1,799,824 campaign fund, but she needs to beat Wendy Davis who has raised over two million dollars and is a former gubernatorial nominee. While it will be very difficult for Leeder to even get the nomination this time around, the plus side is that Wendy Davis may still be able to flip this seat anyway considering that Chip Roy had the weakest performance an incumbent had in this district in over 30 years.
3/4/2020 Update: Leeder has lost to Wendy Davis, but this one was fairly obvious.
The next candidate we have is Greg Sagan who has raised $11,523 thus far. I’ll just flat out tell you that Sagan will not win this one, and the reason being that he’s running in Texas’s 13th Congressional District, an R+33 district that is even more conservative than the one Jennie Lou Leeder ran for in 2018. The plus side is that Sagan will probably get the nomination, but the chances that he will win the general are practically non-existent, so the best we can hope for is that he does a little better than previous years.
3/4/2020 Update: Greg Sagan has advanced to a runoff against neoliberal candidate Gus Trujillo.
Following Sagan is Jamie Escuder, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Texas’s 23rd Congressional District. Thus far Escuder has raised only $9,803, which is unlikely to be enough to steal the nomination from neoliberal candidate Gina Ortiz Jones and her $2,604,295 campaign stash. The plus side is that Gina is vastly out-funding all the Republican candidates to, and since the incumbent Will Hurd has retired, this means that she will most likely win the general and flip this district.
3/4/2020 Update: Gina Ortiz Jones has predictably won the nomination.
In last place among the progressives financially, with possible exception to the six whose data is unavailable, is Stevens Orozco who has raised $7,067 and has been endorsed by the Houston Democratic Socialists of America. Orozco is attempting a primary challenge against Texas’s 18th Congressional District incumbent Sheila Jackson Lee.
Once upon a time, Sheila Jackson Lee may have been considered progressive. She has been a long time advocate for the rights of black people and was one of the few people in congress to call out the misconduct in the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida. Unfortunately, she has done nothing since then other than become a symbol of all the worst and most irritating aspects of neoliberalism and serve as a never ending source of gaffes and controversy.
Her most prolific controversies include spending campaign funds on Super Bowl tickets, calling a human rights activist “racist,” complaining that hurricane names are “too white,” mistaking Wikileaks for Wikipedia while desperately toadying for Hillary Clinton, and the countless occurrences of staffer abuse including firing an intern for pursuing charges against her rapist.
She may not be as bad as your Henry Cuellars, Steny Hoyers, or Dan Lipinskis, but it doesn’t change that she’s emblematic of the most irritating habits of neoliberal politicians. She does nothing to support Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, or anything that a donor might not like, but she will go nuts on Buzzfeed tier identity politics like a cartoon straw feminist in order to pander to the privileged upper class feminists who seek no serious change while secretly lacking those same morals in private. I wouldn’t be shocked if she starts bitching about trans women in sports in the next few months. Unfortunately I don’t know if Orozco will manage to beat her unless he gets a serious boost in fundraising in the next week, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him.
3/4/2020 Update: Stevens Orozco was unsuccessful, Sheila Jackson Lee has been renominated. At the very least she will continue to make racist Republicans mad for another two years.
And that leaves us with six candidates whose funding info is not available, so these six will be in no particular order. The first of these is Russell Foster who is challenging Texas Congressional District 4 incumbent John Ratcliffe. Given that this district has an R+28 rating, I’m highly doubtful that Foster will win, but it’s nice to see that we even have progressives in these districts.
Next we have Justin Lecea who attempting a primary challenge against Texas Congressional District 20 incumbent Joaquin Castro, who some of you may know as the twin brother and campaign chair for 2020 Presidential candidate Julian Castro. Given Lecea’s lack of funds or press, it seems unlikely that he will manage to beat one of the most popular Democrats in the state.
3/4/2020 Update: Predictably AF, Lecea did not beat Joaquin Castro.
We then have Sam Vega who is running in a crowded race for the Democratic nomination for Texas’s 24th Congressional District. While he has secured a Rose Caucus endorsement, it still seems unlikely that he will win in a crowded field where the front runner has raised close to a million dollars. I would like to be wrong, but I don’t have reason to suspect that I am.
3/4/2020 Update: I was not wrong.
Next we have Viktor Valencia Avalos who is attempting a primary challenge as a write-in candidate to Texas Congressional District 33 incumbent Marc Veasey, who appears to be a standard liberal with no major controversies or gaffes. Given how uncommon it is for write-in candidates to win, and the fact that Veasey has raised $877,128 (66% of which comes from PACs), the chances of beating him are practically non-existent.
3/4/2020 Update: He didn’t win.
Second to lastly, we have Osbert Rodriguez Haro III who is attempting a primary campaign against Texas Congressional District 34 incumbent Filemon Vela Jr, yet another standard liberal with no major controversies and a ton of corporate PAC money. Yet again, I don’t have much confidence in Haro winning because I’ve heard so little about him, which implies he hasn’t made enough of a name for himself to run against an incumbent with a lot of money.
3/4/2020 Update: He didn’t win either.
Lastly, we have Rafael Alcoser, III, who is attempting a primary campaign against Texas Congressional District 35 incumbent Lloyd Doggett, a standard liberal who… yada yada. While Lloyd Doggett does have a bit more of a history I can go into, I don’t have reason to suspect that Alcoser will win this one, but it is nice that we have this many progressive candidates in the first place.
3/4/2020 Update: He didn’t win either, but he managed 26.9% of the vote, which was more than I expected.
In total, we have sixteen out of thirty six districts that have a progressive challenger, in addition Lorie Burch and Al Woolum who have both dropped out. This means that half of the districts in Texas have or had a progressive challenger running in one of the most infamously red states in the country. This just goes to show you that Beto’s performance in 2018 wasn’t just some freak accident and that there is a large base of progressives in the lone star state. Hell it’s actually nineteen if you count Sri Preston Kulkarni who was running on Medicare for All in 2018 but has since been a bit quiet about the more progressive policies.
Taking one’s attention away from the progressive vs corporate Democrat conflict for a second, I’m sure both sides will be able to share a mutual delight in the inevitable collapse of the Texas Republican party (And the GOP as a whole but it’s especially noteworthy here). Despite the drastic increase in turnout, only two Texas Congressional seats were flipped in 2018, but a fuck ton more cut it pretty close. Of the twenty two Texas Republicans elected to congress in 2018, ten won with less than 55%. That is almost half of them! It’s no coincidence that five Republican congressmen from Texas have announced retirement in 2020, in a phenomenon refereed to as “the Texodus.”
Anyway, here are the donation links to the progressive House candidates for those that have a few extra bucks to contribute.
Jessica Cisneros – Donation link.
Mike Siegel – Donation link.
Christine Mann – Donation link.
Heidi Sloan – Donation link.
Adrienne Bell – Donation link.
Mat Pruneda – Donation link.
Jennie Lou Leeder – Donation link.
Greg Sagan – Donation link.
Jaime Escuder – Donation link.
Stevens Orozco – Donation link.
Russell Foster – Donation link.
Justin Lecea – Donation link.
Sam Vega – Donation link.
Viktor Valencia Avalos – Donation link.
Osbert Rodriguez Haro III – Donation link.
Rafael Alcoser, III – Donation link.
And let’s not even forget that we also have state legislature elections, which I’m not going to cover in this piece because of how time consuming it is when it’s less than a week until the election at time of writing. But what I will bring up, because they are super important, are Texas Supreme Court Elections. Thankfully these elections are partisan and one can simply vote for the Democrat in the general. But there are primaries in these elections, so I’ll tell you what you need to know.
For Texas Supreme Court Place 1, the two Democratic candidates are Amy Clark Meachum, who has as served judge of the 201st District Court of Travis County since January 2011, and Jerry Zimmerer, an old white guy who thinks Meachum is “selfish” for wanting to be the first female Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, thinks he’s more qualified despite Meachum having more experience, and is a “former” Republican. I won’t tell you who you should vote for, but I will say that it isn’t the sexist white boomer. The rest of the judicial primaries don’t seem to have anything quite as important so go ahead and vote whoever as long as it’s not for the Republicans.
3/4/2020 Update: Amy Clark Meachum won against Zimmerer with over 80% of the vote THANK FUCKING GODDESS!!!!
So there we have it, shit is about to get real in Texas! The Republican establishment is falling apart and the state that was once the butt of countless redneck jokes is turning blue, which means that every remaining redneck joke will be redirected at Alabama. By the time you are reading this, early voting has likely already began, so you can vote now if you will be busy on election day. Here’s to breaking the corrupt, conservative stranglehold on this state, and hopefully this country as a whole!
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