The Star Telegram talks about what the election of Wendy Davis to the State Senate means.
With Davis, they now have 12 members -- one more than the 11 votes needed to block legislation in the 31-member Senate -- and hope to expand to what they would consider a lucky 13 if Chris Bell wins a runoff for a Houston-area seat.
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, who has led Senate Democrats since 2003, said that senators from both parties traditionally put the interests of their districts above partisanship, with Democrats and Republicans often coalescing along rural-urban lines or forming blocs based on particular issues.
Nevertheless, she said, "there are a few core what I'd call non-negotiables for Senate Democrats." She said they will be "absolutely united" against any attempt to revive a voter identification bill, a measure Democrats blocked last year in a confrontation with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the Senate's Republican presiding officer.
Other non-negotiables, she said, would include legislation that Democrats perceive as attempts to weaken the state's public education system or diminish voting rights. Moreover, she said, Democrats are likely to "congeal" around other issues such as insurance, healthcare and consumer protection.
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who grew up in Saginaw, said that Democrats, with their strengthened bargaining position, might refuse to support certain items in the budget unless they have assurances that state children's health programs will be fully funded to their satisfaction.
The new Senate configuration also dilutes conservative Republican control of the chamber, Watson said, and creates "a greater opportunity" for bipartisan cooperation. "It swings power back toward the center -- not all the way there, but it moves it in that direction," he said.
The Senate requires a two-thirds vote to bring up legislation, meaning 11 senators can stop a bill from coming to the floor. Davis' added vote makes it easier for Democrats to forge a bill-stopping bloc.
And of course, we can still do better than that. If having twelve Democratic Senators is good, having thirteen would be super. That means doing whatever needs to be done to get Chris Bell elected on December 16. If we're really lucky, this will be the last legislative session with Rick Perry as Governor. Wouldn't it be great if it was with the most Democratic legislature he's had to face since his first term? Please go visit Chris Bell.com and see what you can do to help. Thanks very much.
Finally, you have to wonder if the Democratic establishment up in North Texas isn't kicking itself over a couple of missed opportunities to make even bigger inroads in the Senate. Sen. Chris Harris, whose district covers parts of Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties, won with an unimpressive 54% of the vote against a complete non-entity named Melvin Willms. One can only imagine what might have happened had he faced a challenger of Wendy Davis' qualities and resources. I can't wait to get statewide precinct data to see what might have been there. And in Dallas County, Sen. John Carona was re-elected with 56.3% against Rain Minns, who I thought was smart and ambitious, but also young and way underfunded. Given how much more Democratic Dallas is these days, you'd think Carona (and for that matter, US Rep. Pete Sessions) would have had a bigger target on his back, but it wasn't to be. 2012, anyone?Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 29, 2008 to Election 2008