Democrats in Texas focus on their top priorities

AUSTIN, Texas — Attendees at the Democratic National Convention are seeking to distance themselves from the Republican Party amid concerns about the rise of extremists from the right. House Democratic Leader Trey Martinez-Fischer is seeking to unite the party against policies they say are hurting Texans.

What you need to know

  • The Democrats met last weekend in El Paso for their state convention
  • The congress participants wanted to distance themselves from the Republicans
  • Priorities include opposing Governor Greg Abbott's school voucher program and improving access to abortion.
  • Some political analysts said social issues were the main focus of the congress

“If you look at the Republican convention, it seems like they're making it harder to vote. They've definitely tried to introduce the death penalty for women who seek abortions, and they have a very anti-LGBT attitude. So we couldn't be more different,” Martinez-Fischer said.

The party's priorities include blocking Governor Greg Abbott's education voucher plan, improving access to abortion and reducing gun violence.

“For me, the biggest issues have been school vouchers and the opposition to them,” said Pooja Sethi, chair of the Travis County Democratic Party.

Some political analysts believed that social issues were the focus of the Democratic National Convention in El Paso last weekend.

“There's been a lot of talk about her main campaign issue, which is trying to expand abortion access in Texas. There's also been a lot of talk about transgender and LGBT issues,” said Matthew Wilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

Achieving Democrats' policy goals can be difficult in a Republican state, but the infighting within the Republican party — over the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the failure of education voucher legislation — could benefit Democrats focused on unity.

“We will leverage that unity, whether it's by supporting one of our own to become Speaker of the House or by looking at who is willing to work with us to make sure Democrats have a seat at the table,” Martinez-Fischer said.

Political analysts are also watching the number of parliamentary elections this fall in which the Democrats could win.

“Perhaps they can use the abortion issue, among other things, to make progress in some of the more moderate, Republican-controlled suburban districts,” Wilson said.

Democrats also hope that Washington will give their party more power. North Texas Representative Colin Allred is running for the U.S. Senate and will face Senator Ted Cruz in the general election.

“Together, we can give freedom back to the women and families of Texas. We can show the country and the world how to secure our border in line with our values. We can show everyone that you really mean everyone. And if they want our freedoms, they can come and take them,” Allred said.

If Allred defeats Cruz, it would be the first statewide office held by a Democrat in nearly three decades. Democratic leadership also believes it would bring more national Democratic resources to Texas.

Anna Harden

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