It’s limited, but it’s not nothing.
A new coalition that wants to install “better” Democrats in the Texas Legislature is endorsing primary opponents to two House members who were central in intraparty disputes last year.
The Texans for Better Democrats Coalition is throwing its weight behind Candis Houston, who is running against Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston, and Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez, who is competing against Rep. Art Fierro after she was drawn her out of her El Paso district during redistricting.
The Democratic group is also endorsing Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo in her reelection bid as she faces a group of primary challengers including Erica Davis, the top staffer for a Harris County constable.
The coalition launched in October, and it is made up of three progressive groups tied to organized labor: the Texas Organizing Project, Communications Workers of America and Working Families Party. They are prepared to spend about $250,000 across the three primaries, funding field and mail programs in each one, said Pedro Lira, co-director of the Texas WFP.
“We’re in it to win it,” he said.
Ordaz Perez chose to run against Fierro after the Republican-led redistricting process forced her into the same district as a fellow Latina Democrat, Rep. Lina Ortega. In announcing her campaign against Fierro, Ordaz Perez criticized him for being one of the first House Democrats to return from the quorum break. A number of other House Democrats who remained in Washington, D.C., longer are backing her against Fierro.
In an interview, Fierro defended his decision to return along with two other El Paso-area Democrats, saying they had achieved their three goals from the start: staying off the floor for the remainder of the first special session, bringing national attention to the bill and “light[ing] a fire under Congress” to pass federal legislation protecting voting rights.
“I was on the bad-election-bill battle from day one,” he said, pointing to his efforts to fight it as a member of the House Elections Committee.
See here for the background. I noted both Dutton and Fierro as potential targets for such a campaign, mostly because nearly all of the other non-leavers and early-returners were not running or not opposed in the primary. I am of course all in for ousting Dutton – you can listen to my interview with Candis Houston here – but I don’t know enough about either Fierro or Ordaz Perez to offer an opinion beyond the quorum issue. The money being put up will help, though as we are less than a week out from early voting it might be less effective than it could have been. I’m just guessing about that.
I got an email from this group on Monday morning announcing the endorsements – I’ve pasted it beneath the fold for you. I’m glad to see them also endorse Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who has earned the support she’s receiving. We’ll see if they can make a difference.
Texas Organizing Project, Communications Workers of America, and the Working Families Party are proud to announce the first round of endorsements for the Texans for Better Dems Coalition, a PAC dedicated to electing progressive Democratic leaders who will stand up for Texans and their values. This initial round of endorsements includes Lina Hidalgo for Harris County Judge, Candis Houston for Texas House (District 142) and Claudia Ordaz Perez for Texas House (District 76).
Texans For Better Dems will recruit, train, and run candidates for Texas State House and Senate, targeting districts where Democratic state senators and representatives have shown they can’t be trusted to stand up against policies that threaten the civil rights and liberties of their constituents. As we saw with the recent fight to reach a quorum at the State House, it’s more important than ever to ensure those we elect will do everything in their power to stop dangerous, unconstitutional legislation from being passed in Texas.
Through the Texans for Better Dems PAC, we will build Democrats’ capacity not only to win, but to contend for real power that changes the lives of Texans. Together, we have already raised over $240,000 to spend on upcoming primary elections — and this is just the beginning. Our state is in crisis, and now more than ever, we need to make sure we elect Dems who are prepared to handle the challenge.
“Through this PAC, the Texans for Better Dems Coalition aims to not only elect into office Democrats who will step up to fight for what’s right, but to also ensure that our elected Democrats lead with the intention of improving Texans’ lives,” said Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project. “We’re excited to work together with other progressives to protect voting rights and civil rights from Republican attacks.”
“Texans need elected leaders who will stand with them, not ones who back down at the first sign of a fight. Through the Texans for Better Dems Coalition, we hope to elect candidates who are champions for working people and fight to protect our voting rights,” said Derrick Osobase, Administrator Director for the Communications Workers of America, District 6. “We’re counting on our elected officials to fight for our values and the rights of millions of Texans.”
“From the state legislature to the halls of Congress, we’ve seen that simply having Democrats in office or even Democratic majorities aren’t enough to ensure the needs of working people are represented in the halls of power,” said Pedro Lira, Texas Co-director for the Texas Working Families Party. “We’re in coalition with Texas for Better Dems PAC because we need Working Families majorities that will put the people over profit.”