The Work We Did Together in 2012
When Progress Texas launched two years ago, there were no members, no sustaining donors, no victories to brag about. All we had was an idea and an ambitious goal to communicate progressive values across Texas.
After 730 days and our first election cycle, we can brag about some real victories and real accomplishments because of your work and commitment to our state. Our membership spreads across 90% of counties in Texas. We have nearly 100 sustaining donors, close to 40,000 members, and we have held a dozen events throughout Texas. Politicians and political leaders are paying attention to us – because we are making a difference.
Before I brag on the work our staff, interns, and volunteers have done this year, I want to thank you for working so hard to take back our state. Nothing worth doing should be easy and I can’t think of a more worthwhile cause than returning to a progressive Texas.
Thank you so much! And now I am happy to share with you a brief recap of the work we have done in 2012...
- Texas 2012 Elections – In TX-23, Progress Texas volunteers helped make over 2,500 phone calls, urging low propensity voters to show up at the polls. We worked local press using research from national partners to illustrate now-retired Tea Party Republican Quico Canseco's extreme record on women's health care, Medicare, and foreign policy. In TX-14, we made news and challenged Tea Party candidate Randy Weber for his illegal ethics filings, helping generate press attention in state media and for national groups looking at the race. In the State Senate race between Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Mark Shelton – the hottest contested state-level race in Texas – we made sure our members knew about rising Tea Party elected official Mark Shelton's vote against a rape kit bill Sen. Davis had passed in the previous session (a bill U.S. Senator John Cornyn is now pushing nationally).
In addition, we worked with local groups and developed voter guides on local propositions and bonds for Harris, Dallas,Travis, Bexar, and El Paso counties. In a year where ballots would reach well over 10-12 pages in length, highlighting these critical revenue raising measures was important for our organization. All but one of the 25+ local propositions and bonds supported by Progress Texas passed in 2012.
- Save Texas Football – In response to Tea Party State Senator Dan Patrick’s vocal push for school privatization in Texas, Progress Texas PAC developed a full-scale campaign titled Save Texas Football. The campaign was anchored around a professionally produced video – written, narrated, and with production help from the PAC’s directors – that used actors from the Friday Night Lights TV series to argue why everyone should be wary of school privatization. The campaign launch was widely covered in Texas TV, print, and radio outlets. And Texans are still making their voice heard and letting their elected officials know we value education instead of handing our children’s future over to corporations.
- Texans for a Fair Judiciary – Progress Texas helped create the Texans for a Fair Judiciary coalition to fill emergency empty seats on Texas’ federal district and circuit courts. The coalition created an aggressive 3,000+ person online campaign targeted at Texas’ U.S. Senators, coupled with outreach to traditional media and town hall-style events in San Antonio and Houston. Working hand-in-hand with the Center for American Progress’ Legal Progress, three judicial seats that had been declared judicial emergencies were filled in the last year. In December, Progress Texas will be in Dallas for a conference with national partners to continue working on this issue and prepare for the next phase of this campaign. With the elections behind us, we plan on stepping up our work and making sure our Senators, who run the nominations process, know they must end the crisis in our courts!
- American Legislative Exchange Council – Progress Texas has partnered with the Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, and other national and local groups to expose the role that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has played in Texas. Reports on the overall influence of ALEC in Texas, and state-issue reports on topics likevirtual schools and guns, have raised awareness of ALEC in Texas. Additionally, a campaign to get state legislators to leave resulted in every Texas Democrat and 9 Texas Republicans leaving ALEC, one of the largest block of state legislators to leave this corporate bill factory in the nation. With 43 new State Representatives and State Senators – plus 24 more legislators only serving their 2nd term in office – we plan on educating members on this subversive organization and ensure elected officials put the people of Texas ahead of corporate interests.
- Texas Public Policy Journal – Our sister organization, the Texas Research Institute, created the Texas Public Policy Journal (TPPJ) to create a searchable online database of a wide range of public policy reports put out by Texas’ progressive nonprofits. By putting all the reports in an easy-to-use database, members of the media, other nonprofits, and the public can have access to studies and information in a single place. With already over 150 reports archived, the TPPJ will be continuously updated throughout the Texas legislative session with new reports from advocacy and nonprofit groups.
- Public Policy Actions – Beyond those already discussed, we have worked with groups on a number of important state-based actions, including raising awareness about Citizens United at the city level, protection of the Affordable Care Act, promoting a balanced approach to a balanced budget, and pushing for agency rule changes to create clean energy jobs in Texas.
We will continue working on the campaigns discussed above, but we want to keep doing more. We want to get the Affordable Care Act implemented in Texas, and expand our state's capacity for clean energy jobs. We want to end Perry's corporate "gifts" programs. We want to stop school privatization, but also highlight positive pieces of education legislation that Texas' elected officials discuss in the Legislature. Yes, we want to put an end to extreme Tea Party control - but we will never forget that offering a positive, constructive vision for moving forward is just as important to our community.
Our community grows strong because of the work we do together. We are winning these fights because you are making your voice heard. And we continue to fight on because of your commitment to communicate progressive values in Texas.
Over the coming weeks we will be highlighting the work we are planning for 2013 and asking for your support to make 2013 as successful as 2012. You can do that by encouraging your friends to sign up for our emails, donating what ever you can spare in a one time donation, become a sustaining donor at any amount, or join our newly created finance council. Of course, if you can’t give, just keep fighting with us and making your voice heard in Austin and Washington. We appreciate your help in what ever way you can share.
Thank you for your work and your commitment to fight for what you believe!