Texas Governor Rick Perry announced today that he would not seek re-election in 2014 — which will leave the first open seat for Governor since 1990, when Ann Richards captured the statehouse. Can pro-choice Texas Democrats, turn the state around? 

There’s no question that our side felt emboldened by the heroic filibuster of State Senator Wendy Davis — but all that attention on the Lone Star State prompted MOMocrat Julie Pippert to wonder when is the rest of the country going to stop mocking Texas and get down to the business of helping?

St. Sen

Photo courtesy of Erik Vidor, Houston, Texas of State Senator Wendy Davis speaking at the Texas Capitol to Stand with Texas Women supporters.

Lately, in Texas as a Texan, a woman, and a self-identifying progressive who believes the government exists to serve citizens, not micromanage them, I’ve been bewildered by the mind-boggling doggedness with which elected GOP legislators continue to ignore real needs in our state. I’ve also been a little stung, admittedly, by the nationwide belittling of not just some legislators but all of Texas and all of us, the Texans.

I was so impressed with how people stood behind Fort Worth state Senator Wendy Davis, but the support came with a price tag that included some pretty low blows against Texas and Texans.

It began with this little plea I made on Facebook:

“I love how involved and invested everyone got in our battle and incredible general the phenomenal Wendy Davis! ‎#gowendygo 

I have one sorrow though. One that is all too common. Amidst all the powerful support was the Texas mocking. 

I wish people would quit being so blithely cruel about my state and the people here. Nobody is better than anyone. Every state has issues. It’s picking on and not okay. 

There are a lot of incredible people and places here. We happen to be in a philosophical civil war here. Our whole country is but it plays big here. It’s not funny. It’s awful. 

I can only hope it’s a growing pain and transition, which is always hard, but we come out better the other side.”

 That opened a discussion that only grew and continued as Texas women and men went to Austin to show their opinion about what Texas legislators ought to do. I decided to ask real Texans their specific thoughts and ideas about what they wanted to see happen in Texas and how the Davis Filibuster affected them.

Here are real thoughts from real Texans…

One woman appreciated seeing her priorities and views get a minute at the microphone, and felt empowered by that:

“As a Democrat living in Texas, I quite often feel politically isolated. Mostly this evidences itself by my not voicing my opinion publicly because I get tired of being yelled at by the more vocal branch of the republican party. Not all the republican party, I have some very nice moderate friends with whom I have some lovely discussions… go figure.

Anyway, yesterday I had tears in my eyes as I cheered Sen. Davis on and watched the people come to support her with their voices and their presence. I did not feel so alone and that was an amazing feeling. Will it cause me to stand a little taller and speak a little more often? Perhaps, we’ll have to see.

My hope is that the legislature reviews the outcome of Sen Davis’ action and sees that they have gone way too far away from the middle, but my fear is that they’ll just keep hammering away until I am back living under my rock. Gov Perry is repellent to me. He will do anything to further his own agenda and I’m sure come away a little wealthier in the process. A slicker snake oil salesman I have never seen. Can I join Sen Davis’ campaign for governor now? Or do I have to wait until she actually declares?”

— Karen Boeder, Houston

Another woman revealed the diverse and yet very human and personal priorities she wished the elected representatives would focus on:

“The Wendy Davis filibuster meant we have a senator who realized the ramifications of HB5 were detrimental to the women of our state and the children, men and women of our state who depend upon Planned Parenthood for free healthcare as the bill will no longer allow these facilities to remain open.

The next step should be a fair vote, not a special session due to the outpouring of opposition to this bill. Aren’t we a democracy? Also, we need board certified intelligent ob/gyns to testify as to how this bill will endanger women needlessly. Testimony and financials from Planned Parenthood would be beneficial as well so that the public is giving true and correct numbers on how many men, women and children are treated by them on a yearly basis.

The priorities for our state should be education, informed health care, environment, and commerce/business last. Business will benefit from a healthier, educated population.

I am not happy that our children rank so low in education and so high in poverty. I don’t like that a fertilizer plant was allowed to store so great an amount of dangerous chemicals that we lost a whole town of people, lost tax revenue due to the incapacitation of an entire company. We need oversight and stiff penalties and legal prosecution for companies that want to operate illegally and without regard for the health and safety of the public. We need to stop redrawing boundaries to accommodate political party agendas.”

— Lisa H-F, Clear Lake, Tx.

A young woman felt her future and rights finally had a voice, and hopes this experience jolts legislators out of “politics” and into service:

“The Wendy Davis filibuster meant someone was paying attention. The filibuster mattered to me because I’m a young woman who lives in Texas. More so, I feel Texas is a big enough state that if these changes were to take effect, other states would follow our lead.

I feel Sen. Davis and her supporters went the distance to fight SB5 and the decision should stand. If we have another special session, I’d like a real conversation to take place instead of senators “playing politics.” This isn’t about winning, it’s about real people and the impact on our lives. The whole conversation feels ridiculous.

I think homelessness prevention and water should be priorities for Texas. I don’t think Texas has safety mechanisms in place to help people on the brink of homelessness avoid it. I’m also concerned about the future of our water supply in light of environmental changes and our new developments in the oil & gas industry that may have a significant impact on the availability drinkable water. Mainly, are we replacing it fast enough?

In my experience, people outside of Texas think we ride horses to work and marry our cousins. Unfortunately, when we attract the national spotlight for a debate on women’s health, we invite perceptions that we’re backwards, under-educated, unsophisticated, over zealous Christians, who are out of touch with society. It’s disheartening to think people feel that way about Texas.”

— Katrina Esco, Houston

The bottom line is that these smart voices with their very valid priorities demonstrate that the citizens of Texas are very aware of real needs, are not single-minded on one issue (abortion, as legislators seem to be) and they believe that Texans need elected representatives who can represent and address the diversity or issues and concerns in our state.

It’s estimated that over 5000 people stood at the Texas State Capitol on July 1st to Stand With Texas Women. That’s significant. Especially in the Texas heat. Citizens are speaking. They are demanding that the government be by the people and for the people, which means hearing the people and standing for citizen needs and priorities, not dogged personal agendas.

 Legislators, the Governor, and the Lieutenant Governor need to hear that and listen to it. I not only hope they hear that but that the entire US does too, and builds respect for the incredible efforts and diversity in this great state.