Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Game of Electoral Math

Let's play a game of electoral math! Historically the Texas Senate has had a 2/3 rule that requires 2/3 of Senators to agree to bring legislation to the floor during the regular session (there are some exceptions). There are 31 Senators so any coalition of 11 Senators can block a bill. There are currently 11 Senators that can reliably be counted on to block anti-LGBT bills (all members of the minority party). One of them is Sen. Davis who is running for Governor and not for re-election. In her old Senate District, SD 10, Libby Willis (who has positioned herself as an LGBT ally) is running against Konni Burton (who has positioned herself as an opponent). If Willis looses the election we will be down to 10 reliable pro-LGBT votes and will have to work to pick up a vote from the majority party. That's doable, we've done it before.

Additionally, Sen. Van de Putte, another very reliable ally, is running for Lt. Gov. If she wins her election she will have to resign her Senate seat and a special election will take place to replace her. It's likely that that replacement would not be sworn in until mid March of 2016 meaning we will have 30 Senators, still need 11 to block a bill and have either 10 or 9 reliable pro-LGBT votes (depending on the result of the election in SD 10).

Sen. Hegar is also expected to resign which brings us down to 30 or 29 Senators (depending on the outcome of the Lt. Gov. race). His replacement would also not take office to March likely. If Sen. Hegar resigns and Sen. Van de Putte wins only 10 votes will be needed to block a bill under the 2/3 rule. So if Libby Willis wins we maintain a strong wall, if she looses we'll have to pick up another vote somewhere.

The takeaway is two conflicting ideas: first, elections matter - if you live in South Tarrant county go vote for Libby Willis like your life depended on it and make sure anyone you know who lives in SD 10 does the same. Second, we have to work bipartisanly. In half of the scenarios presented above we are relying on a Republican Senator to save the day. We can not expect them to come to our rescue if we've spent the entire election painting every Republican with the same broad, homophobic brush.
So get out there, work for the candidates that work for us, but remember to be kind, to be fair and to be mature.

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