by Jim Lane
The 2012 election did not bring decisive change to Texas, possibly because the jobs crisis was less severe in the Lone Star state, but the incremental changes were worth noting.
Before November 6, Texans suffered from a "supermajority" of anti-worker Republican delegates to the State House. In the State Senate, where 11 delegates are the minimum necessary to block any legislation, the Democrats had only 12. The Governor, the Supreme Court, the Court of Civil Appeals, and all other state offices were held by Republicans. Republican gains in 2010, and the increasingly anti-worker nature of Republican candidates, had left the impression that their domination of state politics would continue to increase.
In the 2011 legislative session, Republicans passed several anti-democratic measures that would have given Texas a prominent place in the grand parade of U.S. voter suppressors. They also redistricted federal and state districts to help them tighten their hold on Texas power. Their redistricting maps and almost all their voter suppression laws were stopped by federal government under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which holds that certain states with the worst history of racism, including Texas, must have all election laws reviewed. Attorney General Abbott is appealing these federal court decisions to the Supreme Court, but the elections went ahead without most of the voter suppression laws but with the discredited redistricting maps.
When the vote totals came in this year, President Obama had lost the state 58-41%. On the other hand, Democrats broke through the "supermajority" in the State House, and they thwarted a multi-million dollar attempt to switch one seat in the Senate, which would have made it impossible for Democrats to stop any state legislation.
Through redistricting, Republicans had hoped to rid themselves of Democratic U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Austin, but they failed in the attempt. Through redistricting, they expected to gain 3 of the 4 new U.S. House seats that the census had allowed for Texas. Instead, they split two and two.
Communists in Texas worked hard in the elections because the working class had so much at stake. Texas labor, led by an especially energetic State AFL-CIO, can justly claim credit for the incremental improvements in Texas politics. November 6th came and went for Texas labor with no slowdown in pace. Top leaders had already scheduled major addresses in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio to charge up the fight against austerity in the coming U.S. congressional session.
The growing Latino vote, much discussed in national politics, may have accounted for the Democrats' successes in Texas. A lot of the new Democratic state reps and one of the U.S. Congressmen came from San Antonio, where the growing Latino vote may have been decisive.
Latino political leaders have bright futures. Texas may have gained a new national political superstar in Mayor Castro of San Antonio, who made a big impression at the Democratic convention. His pet project, a small municipal tax increase for pre-school education, passed on November 6th. If the program has any success, it will give Castro traction for future national or statewide efforts.
A final, and interesting, point came from the 2012 elections in Texas. Our Governor made a complete ass of himself during his primary run for U.S. President. There may be some carryover effect in 2014, when he has to face the electorate at home.