Monday, April 23, 2012

A Progressive Democrat In Texas-- Meet Beto O'Rourke Who's Running For Congress To Represent Working Families In El Paso


El Paso has around 650,000 people and the county, most of which comprises the 16th congressional district has around 800,000. It's the westernmost part of Texas, closer to L.A. than to Houston-- and in a different time zone from the rest of Texas. And it's as blue as the rest of the state is red. Since 1996 TX-16 has been represented by a conservative Democrat and a staunch, even zombie-like, supporter of the Military-Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned America about, Silvestre Reyes. The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, most Members rate him as having about the same intelligence as Michele Bachmann, another Member. We were excited when we heard that Reyes finally was getting a progressive challenger in the Democratic primary, Beto O'Rourke, and I asked him to introduce himself. Watch the video above (and down below), read what he has to say and please consider making a contribution to his grassroots campaign here at our ActBlue page.

I am a fourth-generation El Pasoan. I graduated from Columbia, came back to El Paso and started a technology and media company in downtown El Paso. In 2005 I sought and won a seat on the El Paso City Council where I worked with the community on a very progressive agenda of restricting sprawl and promoting infill development; rejuvenating our downtown; protecting the environment by successfully opposing the reopening of a copper smelter in central El Paso; and promoting equality and access to healthcare.

One thing that sets me apart from the incumbent in this race: I have the courage of my convictions.

I led the charge on the El Paso City Council to offer health benefits to same sex partners of City employees, and then upheld that decision in the face of a misguided citizen petition that would have removed those benefits from City employees had hundreds of police and fire retirees who were also affected.

After thousands had died in our sister city of Ciudad Juarez in 2009, I pointed out that the drug war our country has waged and forced upon Mexico was partly to blame. When Congressman Silvestre Reyes tried to shut down Council debate by threatening to withhold federal funds, I continued to push for an open and honest debate on the subject. As the death toll mounted over the ensuing years (now more than 10,000 have died, making Juarez the deadliest city in the world), I continued to talk about this politically inconvenient truth and even co-wrote a book with Susie Byrd (Dealing Death and Drugs) about the impact of the drug war on El Paso, Juarez and our two countries.

I am steadfast on the issue of Women's Health. I have called Silvestre Reyes' vote to zero-out Title X funding (which provides family planning, breast and cervical cancer screenings and HIV screenings) embarrassing and indefensible. I believe in a woman's access to contraception, to her right to choose and to having access to quality healthcare, and I will vote accordingly.

What does my opponent stand for?

Silvestre Reyes voted to de-regulate the banks in 1999 and then to bail them out 10 years later.

He voted for the Patriot Act and supports warrantless wiretapping.

He voted for and defended the National Defense Authorization Act which allows your government to arrest you under terrorism charges and hold you without recourse to your constitutional rights.

He voted to defund Title X.

He is a pawn for defense and homeland security contractors, pushing through hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts. One contractor hired all three of his children under a $220 million no-bid contract that turned out to be a boondoggle for taxpayers.

He is tied to corruption in El Paso. Despite professing his faith in the drug war, he accepted and did not return $9,500 from an indicted drug trafficker. He has accepted thousands more from indicted El Pasoans who used their connections to him to obtain federal funds and squander taxpayer resources.

This election is a contest between the regressive rearguard of the Democratic party and the best progressive values our party offers to this country.

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