Texas Democrats will shine a spotlight on their top-of-the-ticket female candidates as they begin their three-day convention in Dallas Thursday.
In an interview with KERA, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said his party will also contrast its beliefs with those Republicans enshrined in their state platform earlier this month.
Hinojosa said this is the first time Texas has had two women – both state senators – running for office on the top of a party ticket.
State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth is the party nominee for governor – she's opposing Republican Greg Abbott. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio is running for lieutenant governor against Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick.
“Their message is a message that I believe is in line with mainstream Texans, what they want for their families,” Hinojosa said.
He described that message as promoting good public education; access to health care; good-paying jobs; taking care of the environment; and equal treatment for women.
Hinojosa: Democrats can win statewide
Hinojosa disagrees with pundits who believe Texas is still too “red” to elect a Democrat statewide.
“We believe we will win statewide races,” he said, recalling Ann Richards’ uphill race in 1990 where she beat the odds and defeated Clayton Williams in the governor’s race.
“It’s all about having the candidates willing to get out there and pound on the pavement and go see people and energize the base and we’ve got the candidates that can do this,” Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa said the Texas Democratic Party has reorganized and has 70 to 80 people in the field organizing voters and assisting campaigns. The party is also being assisted by Battleground Texas, a Democratic group organized to help party candidates become more competitive. Hinojosa said national unions are helping organize and non-profits are registering voters.
The Texas Democratic platform
At the Republican Party convention in Fort Worth, state delegates wrangled over a decision to eliminate support for an immigration guest worker program, and they passed a measure that drew criticism from health professionals because it supported counseling that would help gays and lesbians become straight.
By comparison, Democrats’ platform is expected to pass with little debate.
Hinojosa said it will include:
· Adequately funding for public education
· Expanding pre-Kindergarten
· Funding for women’s healthcare and the right for women to “control decisions about their bodies”
· Equal pay for equal work legislation
Immigration a key issue
He said Democrats will again call for comprehensive immigration reform.
“We believe it is our obligation to ensure these hardworking, undocumented immigrants who have been here for many, many years, working, providing for their families, paying taxes have an opportunity to have a path to citizenship,” he said.
“The platform of the Republican Party says deport everybody and to hell with it. And that’s just not what America’s all about. So that’s going to be a big contrast,” Hinojosa said. He believes the GOP platform on immigration will affect how Texas Hispanics feel toward Republicans.
The theme of the Democrats’ three-day convention is “A Texas Promise.” Davis and Van de Putte are scheduled to speak Friday night.