Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Won't Democrats Let Legislators Create Congressional Districts to Elect Republicans?

Sharon A. Navarro. Latino Legislator: Leticia Van De Putte and the Road to Leadership. College Station, Tx.: Texas A&M University Press, 2008.

THe author notes studies indicate that most Latinos who are successful in politics are usually community leaders. They seldom enter politics through usual political recruitment paths of organized political leaders that many white politicians take.

Leticia Van de Putte was a Democratic campaign volunteer for several years before running for and winning a special election to the Texas legislature in 1999. She won her campaign by spending $56. She then became the second Latino to serve in the Texas Senate.

In 2003, Van de Putte led a 45 day walkout where Democratic Senators refused to provide a quorum for Senate business. The Democrats walked out because the Republican majority were going to approve a mid-decade Congressional redistricting that would designed to give Republicans six additional Congressional seats. This was achieved by diminishing Lation political power in districts.

Van de Putte became President of the National Council of State Legislatures. She received a national audience.

The author notes women have not been traditional successful in Texas politics. Van de Putte faced issues of her biracial marriage and how Latinos and whites perceive her. Van de Putte's political career is characteristic of paths other female politicians found where political party organizations were not supportive of her running. Van de Putte and other Latino legislators have been involved in seeking "connectedness" with ther community, often in a symbolic fashion. Her leading the walk out brought her prominence and acceptance by traditional "good ole boy" legislators. Van de Putte is seen as representing emerging Latino leaders.

Political Scientist Daniel Elazar declared that Texas has a combination of tradition (i.e elite male-oriented leaders defending the status quo) and individual (people rising in opposition to elite leaders.) politics.

The Texas legislature meets for five months in a two year session. The Governor may call a special session that is limited to 30 days. Legislators earn $7,200 a year. This creates a limitation on who is able to serve as a legislator. Most Texas legislators are from middle to upper incomes. Few are working class. The most common occupation of Texas legislators is lawyer followed by businesspeople.

In 2007, women were 1,733 of 7,382 state legislators nationally. Texas was the state with the 27th most percent of female legislators with 36 of 181 legislators being women.

Studies indicate females have generally overcome past difficulties in being seldom recruited by political elites to run or not having access t funds and resources to run. WOmen are shown still facing social and expectation barriers. Their backgrounds are more apt to to be less viable as males candidates.

Van de Putte's childhood nickname was "Chillone Berrincho" (Spanish for "crying tantrum") for her forcefulness. She was active in Young Democrats. She voiced opinions and was placed on the Airport Advisory Board after discovering the airport did not abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Van de Putte worked in her grandfather's pharmacy. She later bought the pharmacy. She continued her community activism and served on a Park Advisory Board. Her husband's family operated the Aloe Vera direct marketing company.

Van de Putte sought to be slated by party leaders in a special state legislature special election. She received only 3 of 20 votes from party leaders voting to choose a nominee on the first ballot. Since no candidate had a majority, balloting continued by dropping the candidate with the fewest votes. Van de Putte, while having little support as people's first choice, was the second choice of many leaders. She won the nomination. She then defeated Republican Bart Simpson and a Libertarian in the election.

In the legislature, she openly greeted a homosexual elected to the legislature who other legislators shied away from. She sold her pharmacy business to avoid further attacks on her supporting Medicaid budgets that included reimbursements to pharmacists. She gained victory in having a University of Texas campus placed in downtown San Antonio.

Van de Putte ran for a special election for State Senator. She cam e in first in the election and won a runoff since her did not win a majority in the first election. She spent $250,000 in this campaign. She became Democratic Caucus Chairman in 2003. She rose by building relations with other legislators and adapting to the legislative process.

The Texas legislature had a history of members boycotting attending in order to avoid creating a quorum to prevent legislation from being enacted. In 1993, Republicans prevented the Senate from meeting for a day to protest a plan to increase the number of racial minorities as judges. IN 1979, the Senate failed to reach a quorum when Republcians held out for separate primary dates for the Democratic and Republican primaries. Van de Putte led a group of Democratic Senators in denying the Senate a quorum. She flew them out of state to New Mexico. She led fund raising for expected litigation. The New Mexico Governor stated anyone arresting the Senators to return them to Texas would be arrested for kidnapping. A Democratic Senator broke ranks and returned to create a quorum. Bipartisan disharmony continued for some time.

Way Before 0% of Blacks Supported the Republican Nominee, Most Blacks Once Were Republicans

Jas M. Sullivan and Jonathan Winburn. The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus: Race and Representqation in the Pelican State. Baton Rouge,La.: Louisiana State University Press, 2011.

This book examines the Louisiana state legislature's Black Caucus. It concludes the caucus, so far, since its 1977 beginning, has achieved legislaative enactments that have helped their African American constituencies, yet as rates less successful as achieved by white legislators.

Sen. Yvonne Dorsey notes 80% of Louisiana's Blacks are poor. The Black Caucus represents their concerns in a sometimes uphill battle. Dorsey notes "racism is surreal in Louisiana" and that while the Black Caucus has not gained much power it has been successful in defeating "hundreds of insidiously racially biased" proposals.

The political history shows there were Blacks who were Governors (when they were regional mediators) between 1775 and 1819 in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. In modern times, there have been two elected Governor, one in Massachusetts and one in Virginia with a third in New York who succeeded a resigned elected Governor.

The Congressional Black Caucus formed in 1971. Several state legislative Black Caucuses followed.

The authors note that special interests are influential with Louisiana legislators. Most Louisiana legislators serve part time while holding outside employment.

There were 32 Louisiana Black Caucus members in the 1005-2006 session, 23 House members plus 9 Senate members. Seven were committee chairs, one was President Pro Tempore, and one was Speaker Pro Tempore. The authors' research indicates the Black Caucus members share similar backgrounds and ideologies as their constituents. If Caucus members did not know how their constituents leaned towards on an issue, they tended to use their best judgment on the issue without seeking the opinions of their constituents, which is consistent with more representative legislatures. The Black Caucus had a range of different means in how they obtained information from trusted and delegated sources.

Black Caucus members indicated there were often disagreements among members on some issues. They  would come together on issues important to their constituencies. The members noted a lack of empathy on other legislators on issues specific to Blacks,.such as sickle cell anemia.

Research indicates that economic interests were usually more important than racial matters as factors in the legislative agendas of Caucus members. Legislators were more responsive to constituent needs. Caucus members recognized the importance of being unified on caucus agenda issues.

Numerous studies show racial minority legislators have lowere success rates in geting legislative proposals passed compared to white legislators. This continues in Louisiana. The book found legislative passage rates for white legislators at 58.37%, for Republicans at 56.35%, and Black Caucus members at 52.59%. THe passsage rate of legislations of interest to Blacks was 44.30%.

The Black Caucus fosters cohesiveness among Louisiana legislators. Cauucs members vote more cohesivily than do legislators by party, sex, or geographic region,.