Sunday, May 20, 2018

Vote For Mary Street Wilson On Tuesday


Mary Wilson is a progressive. Kopser is not, not at all

The Austin Chronicle editorial board made its endorsements for the May 22 run- off last week. In the preface they describe themselves as "left-leaning," but their non-endorsement in TX-21 is absurd and, perhaps, sexist:
No Endorsement

We could not reach a consensus of support in this race. The Chronicle issued a dual endorsement in the primary, of Elliott McFad­den and Derrick Crowe, who both lost out on the run-off. (Crowe took 23%, McFad­den 17%.) But we remain split on Mary Wilson and Joseph Kopser, whose run-off represents a litmus test of what a party's nominee in a historically Republican district should be, and what we believe the 2018 electorate will want. Though he classifies his political transition from Reagan Republican to registered Democrat (with two decades of military service sandwiched in between) as "progress" and not opportunism, Kopser remains a centrist Democrat who is pro-business, and whose measured approach to enacting progressive policies raised concerns from some of our Board that he is, in essence, Republican-lite. His political credentials are indisputable-- establishment party support, both locally and nationally-- but what remains open to interpretation is the utility of that support following the 2016 presidential election, when he and his opponent were both galvanized to wage their first campaigns for public office. Kopser believes a combination of that support and a friendly rapport with Joe Strausian Republicans, who care more about economic development than who uses which bathroom, makes him the best candidate for a general election. For those who see irrelevance in that establishment and want the party to move more left, there's Mary Wilson, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive who does not employ a generic campaign staff. She is a lesbian minister in suburban Texas (Cedar Park) with experience bringing individuals from all political stripes together under her congregation and who believes her place on the political spectrum (unapologetically on the social justice left) will be a feature and not a fault in both energizing Democrats and winning over disenfranchised Republicans should she make it to the first general midterm election since America got stuck with Donald Trump.
Blue America originally endorsed Derrick Crowe, with great enthusiasm. When he missed out on the run-off, we had no problem going over to Mary Wilson. Kopser is exactly what the Democratic Party and Texas do not need. Derrick endorsed Mary as well. He sent me this post yesterday about this current state of the race for the 21st, which goes from West Campus, the Drag, Downtown and Claksville in Austin, through Travis Heights, Sunburst, Tanglewood Forest, south though Buda, San Marcos and New Braunfels into northeastern San Antonio and west into the Hill Country beyond Fredericksburg, Boerne, Bandera and Medina.
Yesterday, one of Joseph Kopser’s most visible public supporters requested that I respond to his social media posts about Mary Street Wilson’s public disclosure that her family holds shares in Exxon. Given the issues it raised for both candidates and the fact that voting is underway in the runoff, I initially thought it best not to respond and just stay out of it. However, since subsequent social media posts make it clear that Team Kopser will continue to request that I respond, I’ve reconsidered.

Let me be absolutely, crystal clear: Exxon is a terrible company, and everyone should divest from it. No other corporation is more responsible for deceiving the public about the effects of fossil fuels on the climate, and their actions may have already cost us a livable future in the long term. Prior to running for this congressional seat, I took part in numerous protest actions and public education efforts to hold Exxon accountable. That climate-change-focused activism was eventually what drew me back into politics to challenge climate change denier Lamar Smith in TX-21. So, of course, I was concerned by the prospect that a candidate I support would hold shares in Exxon.

However, Team Kopser left out an important piece of context: the assets in question were left to Wilson’s spouse as an inheritance from a close family member. That changes things significantly. Since the asset wasn’t left to Wilson, divesting from it is not her decision alone to make-- just like it’s not Kopser’s decision alone to dispose of his wife’s holdings that include significant fossil fuel investments.

According to Kopser’s financial disclosure form, Amy Kopser has personal investments (not received from a deceased person’s estate, mind you) in funds GWX, SPDW, SPEM, SPMD, SPSM, SPYG, SPYV. According to Fossil Free Funds, all of these funds have significant oil, gas, and coal investments, including investments in:
top owners of coal/oil/gas reserves;
the largest coal-fired utilities;
coal-/natural-gas-fired utilities; and
the fossil fuel industry in general.
Again, a candidate’s spouse is a person who makes their own choices, and how they resolve that kind of thing and how it will relate to the campaign’s climate change platform is a matter for them as a couple. What should be a matter of concern to voters, however, are Kopser’s own investments in those funds. He also holds his own investments in all of them. A self-described “clean energy warrior” ought to go to war to clean up his personal investment portfolio.

This same disclosure document also reveals that Kopser has a lovely $50,000–$100,000 investment in a company, Cross CHX, whose most visible product is Olive, a medical services AI intended to replace workers doing repetitive tasks in the for-profit medical industry! Here’s how Cross CHX introduces your “new employee,” the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, 365-day, salary-free droid! Sorry, workers!

This AI investment is flabbergasting to me. Kopser and I had repeated discussions and debates about automation, labor, and the minimum wage, and not once did he disclose his financial interest in automation and AI — which I’m sure would have been of note to the labor unions who backed him in the runoff.

Wilson and Kopser have significant, important differences between them on climate change, fracking, and whether and when we should set a deadline for our country’s transition to net-zero carbon emissions. Kopser’s evasiveness on these points and his willingness to accept additional fossil fuel use “for centuries” as part of a “holistic mix” are nonstarters for me. By contrast, Wilson’s support for a 2035 deadline for getting this country to net-zero carbon emissions fits with my own view of the urgency of the climate crisis. Furthermore, her participation in the heroic protests at Standing Rock show me that she’s willing to put herself on the line to fight for a livable future and for environmental justice.

Everyone should divest from Exxon. Everyone should leave candidate spouses out of it (a stance #TeamKopser has hitherto held to, admirably). And Kopser and his supporters have absolutely no standing to make this kind of attack.

Vote for Mary Wilson on May 22.

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