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Today I volunteered for the John Courage campaign in TX-21. I live in Austin, but not in John's district. Our task was to reach out to voters in a semi-suburban area on the outskirts of Austin. Long deep red territory, this neighborhood had been trending ever bluer the past few years. Our goal was to help continue this process.

The neighborhood seemed affluent, with large, relatively new houses that bore the signs of high-school-aged kids. Luckily, John Courage has been a public school teacher in San Antonio for fifteen years, and is very strong on education issues. American flags decorated many of the front doors and entryways. Perhaps these folks will note Courage's distinguished service in the Air Force.

Frankly, not too many people were home, but of those that were, most were willing to take the literature on Courage and give it a look over. One woman said she'd be sure to vote for the Democrat. Another man, when asked if he had any questions, said "when's he going to bring them home from Iraq?"

I think a lot of people hope their first canvassing experience might yield legions of the converted - my smiling, innocuous presence at the door should be enough for these voters to throw their hands in the air and praise the chance to elect a good candidate. However, the majority of our country's geographic area is currently painted red, and if we want it to turn blue it's going to take a lot of effort, and a lot of brief encounters with voters at their front doors.

My fellow volunteers told me that even two years ago, our efforts would have been laughed out of the neighborhood. Now, people are willing to consider an alternative. Self-identified Republicans gave the campaign literature real consideration. The voter rolls show people who voted Republican in 2000 voting Democratic consistently since. This change can be credited in part to the hard work of volunteers like those at the Travis County Democratic Party Headquarters.

Ultimately, I like to think that the presence of the Courage campaign in this far-flung neighborhood might catch the attention of a few voters. Lamar Smith certainly can't make it out here - he's too busy donating thousands to the Tom Delay defense fund. I guess he's lucky to have almost twenty times as much cash on hand as Courage. Smith's money comes from big business - Clear Channel, Verizon, Schering-Plough, Altria, GE - whereas the biggest donors for Courage are unions, teachers, and progressive grassroots groups.

All in all, I'm glad I donated these few hours of my time to helping a candidate who represents a voice for change in Congress. If you can't make it out to Austin or San Antonio, find someone nearby! It feels good to channel all of your frustration into positive action. And if all else fails, there's usually free coffee at campaign headquarters.

You can donate to John Courage here. He's also on the Netroots Candidate List.

Originally posted to kath25 on Sat Oct 14, 2006 at 05:40 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Headline typo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worried sick, kath25

    just saying, it's TX-21

    "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right" - Carl Schurz

    by RBH on Sat Oct 14, 2006 at 05:37:16 PM PDT

  •  Go Kath! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worried sick, aimeeinkc, Sopiane, kath25

    I think you and I might live near each other. Formerly in 21, now back in Lloyd's district?

    As much as I love Lloyd (and have for 30 years), I was s-o-o-o looking forward to voting for John. He's great, isn't he?

    I did go door to door in my neighborhood talking up John during the 50-state canvass last Spring - lots of folks were interested, especially when I told them that he wasn't a "politician," but a middle school teacher and veteran who's had enough of the current crop in Congress and who wants to fight for education and taking care of our veterans.

    Totally swamped right now, but looking forward to doing more door-to-door for John soon. Like RenaRF, I didn't think I'd like it, but once I lost my virginity . . .  it really is fun.

    The only thing Republicans do well is take our tax dollars and transfer them to the rich, instead of providing the services we thought we were paying for.

    by Janet Strange on Sat Oct 14, 2006 at 06:02:50 PM PDT

  •  Straight-ticket voting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worried sick

    Will people voting straight ticket also get to vote in TX-21?

    Courage could gain some ground from people who just vote straight ticket and overlook the special primary.

    Imagine the possibility of two more races in December. Which could produce another surprise, like with Melancon in 2004.

    "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right" - Carl Schurz

    by RBH on Sat Oct 14, 2006 at 06:03:51 PM PDT

    •  A run-off? (0+ / 0-)

      Apparently there is talk of a run-off? There is a libertarian and an independent in the race as well.

      Not sure about how straight-ticket voting works - never seen it before, and besides, I like to individually vote for each of those Dems, and pat myself on the back as I do it! ;-)

      •  I do too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But there are far too few dems on the ticket in my district! Statewide even. Kath25, maybe you'll run for a county office next time???

        U.S. Citizen Abroad? Had enough? Register to vote in '06! Democrats Abroad makes it easy, at

        by worried sick on Sat Oct 14, 2006 at 06:29:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well (0+ / 0-)

        I don't quite know how it works in Texas. I just know that there's a pretty strong percentage of straight-ticket voters.

        There were 137314 straight ticket Republican votes in Bexar in 2004, and 259762 votes for Bush. Over half of the votes for Bush were straight ticket.

        Although, the Special elections are the first item on the ballot in Bexar, in an orange box.

        "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right" - Carl Schurz

        by RBH on Sat Oct 14, 2006 at 06:30:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Make your travel plans now (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worried sick, boadicea, aimeeinkc, kath25

    When the rest of the country wraps up election 2006 on Nov 7, Texas has a good shot at two congressional runoffs in the special elections brought on by the August redistricting. TX-21 and TX-23 stretch from Austin through San Antonio down to the border and west to El Paso - a huge amount of territory to cover. Tom Delay's good buddies Lamar Smith and Henry Bonilla are the defending Republicans, going up against a laundry list of Democrats, Libertarians and Indy candidates. There is no chance a Dem will take 50% on Nov 7, but there is a pretty good chance that Smith and Bonilla will also miss that mark. Unlike normal congressional races, if noone gets 50%, there is a December runoff between the two top candidates. So south Texas will be the center of the political universe for a month, with control of the House potentially in the balance.

    All you folks in the frozen North, wouldn't you rather spend November in the warm temps, eating good mexican food and getting good progressive candidates elected? I knew you would.

    "I believe that withdrawal is now the more prudent option." Kay Bailey Hutchinson - (1993)

    by George on Sat Oct 14, 2006 at 06:26:51 PM PDT

  •  Thanks! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boadicea, Sopiane, kath25, joedemocrat

    I moved within TX-21 from a traditionally blue Austin neighborhood to a town next door that's always had a reputation for being more conservative. Surprisingly I'm starting to see signs for John but none for Lamar so far.

    I went ahead and signed up on John's site -- hope to get a call from them soon!

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