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Making it harder for veterans to vote

Well done, Republicans.

Ann McGeehan, director of the Secretary of State’s elections division, said last week at a seminar in Austin that photo ID cards issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are not acceptable forms of military ID to vote, according to a recording provided by the Texas Democratic Party.

Jordy Keith, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state, backpedaled Friday on that determination.

“It was an informal Q&A, and (McGeehan) was answering based on what was expressly called out in Senate Bill 14,” Keith said. “Right now our office has not issued a final determination on that.”


Janice McCoy, spokeswoman for state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, a major author of the bill, acknowledged that it does not include the VA card as an acceptable form of photo identification.

State Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, sponsored Fraser’s bill in the House.

Surprised by the controversy, Harless said on Friday that she understood the bill to encompass VA cards.

“It’s my opinion that any military identification card issued by the government was one of the acceptable forms of ID in the Texas voter ID legislation,” she said.

Remember, this was emergency legislation. You’d think for something that important, they might have a better idea of what exactly the effects of it would be. I suppose if they cared what those effects were, they might. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and State Rep. Joe Farias called attention to this, and good for them. Maybe the Secretary of State will rule that VA cards can be used as ID – surely they’re as good as concealed handgun licenses, right? – but the fact that this is even in doubt says a lot. PDiddie has more.

White gets down to the business of being a candidate

Bill White spent his first full day as a former Mayor in the Rio Grande Valley. It was a productive trip for him.

Power brokers in one of the state’s most Democratic regions Tuesday pledged to throw their weight behind Bill White’s bid for Texas governor.

“I can’t think of a better group than this one that has networks and influence throughout the region,” the former Houston mayor told a breakfast gathering that included U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, and a raft of state representatives and judges, city mayors and community activists.

The breakfast was the first of a day of events for White’s debut in the Rio Grande Valley. Gov. Rick Perry, running for a third term, also appeared in the Valley to announce grant awards.

White’s pitch and platform focused on Perry fatigue, blaming the incumbent for the state’s dismal high school and college graduation rates, college tuition hikes, months-long waits for food stamp applicants, and the Valley’s lack of an interstate highway and veterans hospital.

There was a lot more than that, some of which is in a press release that I’ve reproduced beneath the fold. The Rio Grande Guardian goes into more detail.

After a luncheon at the Tierra Santa Golf Club in Weslaco, White, a former mayor of Houston, told the Guardian he backed moves by the Valley legislative delegation to have Texas Enterprise Fund monies appropriated for a Valley veterans’ hospital.

“The first thing I would do as governor is see what can be done to get a VA appropriation,” White said. “But if we don’t get that I would look at sources of state and local funding to create a veterans’ facility, which is well needed. I agree with the Valley delegation that we ought to consider use of the Enterprise Fund.”

The idea of using enterprise fund monies for a Valley veterans’ hospital was first proposed last month by state Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco. It won immediate support from the two American GI Forum chapters in the Valley.

The push for a VA hospital for the Valley has been the number one issue for the region’s 100,000 veterans for decades. Every municipal government in the region has signed resolutions in support. However, the VA has pushed back, arguing that there are insufficient veterans to warrant a hospital. The nearest VA hospital is 250 miles away in San Antonio.


“Governor Perry gave $15 million of those enterprise funds to Countrywide Financial, which was the largest sub-prime lender, to create new jobs. Well, there are no new jobs because the company went under. I don’t think we should have been rewarding firms like Countrywide Financial. I think we ought to create more jobs by providing services to our veterans,” White said.

I’m thinking that’s an issue that will resonate. All in all, that was a pretty good day for White.

Reading these stories got me thinking about a couple of things. One is the concept of coattails, and whether Bill White may have them. I think it’s important to remember that there are two types of “swing” voters, as Chris Bowers wrote in a post I can no longer find. One is the stereotypical “independent”, who may vote for an R or a D in a given race depending on a variety of factors. White starts out at least as someone who can get people like that to vote for him, but in doing so there is no guarantee that they would then vote for any other Democrat. The potential exists for him to have some kind of halo effect on at least some of these voters, but I would expect that to be limited.

The other type of swing voter, however, is the person who will consistently vote for one party, even a straight-ticket vote, but who may or may not show up in a given election. Clearly, plenty of these people exist, which is why we get 8 million votes in a Presidential year and 4.5 million votes in a non-Presidential year. Where White has the potential to boost his ticketmates is with these voters, more than a few of whom, one presumes, live south of I-10.

The other thing is whether the enthusiasm White has unquestionably generated in the Valley will carry over to parts farther west along the border. Rick Perry has done very well getting endorsements from sheriffs and Mayors along the border in years past. If White can put a dent in some of that support, it would be a nice coup for him, at least as far as the narrative of the race goes, even though it’s not all that much in terms of raw votes. I happen to think that “Perry fatigue” is going to be a big factor this year, and something like this would be a bit of corroboration for that thesis. I could be wrong about this, and certainly the “friendly incumbent” tradition may make this a tough sell. But I think it’s worth watching anyway. Click on for White’s release.


Veterans Day

I just want to pause for a moment to join Bill White, Stace Medellin, and many others in honoring those who served our country in the armed forces today. A number of members of my family served in World War II, and several more served in Vietnam – my dad’s brothers Jim Kuffner and Bill Kuffner, and my father-in-law Tim Tyler, to name three. On Veteran’s Day today I salute them and thank them, and everyone who served alongside them. Texas Kaos has more.