Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores
I don’t live in Nevada. Have only been there a few times in my life. In my search to find role models for the young women in my classes—especially young women of color—and to encourage them to consider a future in politics, I happened upon the success story of a young progressive working-class Latina, Lucy Flores
, who not only decided to run for office, but she won—against the odds.
I wrote about her along with other Democratic women, back in March, in Yes, she can ... run for office and win.
Flores, was elected to the Nevada Assembly in November of 2010 and served her first legislative session representing District 28 in 2011 during the 76th regular session. She was re-elected in 2012.
She currently serves as the Assistant Majority Whip, Vice-Chair of the Legislative Operations and Elections committee, and member of the Transportation, and Ways and Means committees. She is also actively involved in growing the Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus.
When I mention "against the odds," that's not just a throwaway cliche. Just look at the U.S. statistics on women in state legislatures
(1,788 or 24.2 percent), and the number of women of color
(who are even a smaller number—368). Of that 368, 81 are Latinas.
Flores re-election was a victory, but no sooner than she was re-elected she took some nasty hits from right-wingers who excoriated her for her testimony supporting Nevada Bill AB230 which sought to "establish a comprehensive, age-appropriate and medically accurate course of instruction in sex education."
Though what happened next did not receive the same national publicity as did the sheroic filibuster by Wendy Davis in Texas, it did stir up a twitter storm of support, at #FierceFlores.
Follow me below the fold for the fierce details.
During her testimony in support of the bill, Lucy Flores decided to tell her story, to demonstrate why sex education is so important.
Assemblywoman Flores tells dramatic, personal story in sex education hearing:
Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, apparently let out a personal secret during Monday’s testimony about Assemblyman David Bobzien’s bill to modernize Nevada’s sex education in public schools. To make her point about her support of the bill, Flores told the Assembly Education Committee that she had an abortion when she was 16. It was an emotional moment, but not the only one in a hearing that lasted for hours.
Flores, who is a Rancho High graduate, told the hearing that her mother left the family when Flores was nine years old. From there, it was up to her father to work two jobs to support her and her sisters. Sex education was hard to come by, Flores said.“I learned from the very little education that I received in school and again, through relationships that I had growing up,” Flores said. Sex education was lacking and it had a major impact in the Flores family.“I had six other sisters, all of them became pregnant in their teens – all of them,” Flores said. “One was 14 years old when she got pregnant with twins. That is what I had to learn from.”
Flores had dreams and ambitions as a teen. She did not want to be a teen mom. Statistics presented at Monday’s meeting showed the difficulty teen moms face. In Nevada, teen birth rates among blacks were double for that of white teens. For latinas, it’s triple of that for white teens. It’s tough to get out of poverty if you are a teen mom. It’s tough to finish your education if you are a teen mom. “I always said that I was the only one who didn’t have kids in their teen-aged years,” Flores said, referring to her family. “That’s because at 16, I got an abortion and it was a very difficult thing for me to do.“Now in retrospect, if I could go back and be on birth control – or better yet – learn to fill my life with something else, other than having the attention of a man in the non-healthy relationship, I would have preferred to do that, if someone would have talked to me about it.” Flores is a proponent for the sex education bill because without proper sex education, she fears other teens will suffer the same consequences she did.
A firestorm of outrage resulted from anti-choice and anti-sex education forces. It was then reported in numerous stories that Flores cancelled a television appearance because of threats.
In the story from The Sin City Siren blog NV lawmaker gets death threats after telling her abortion story during sex ed hearing, the call went out to support Flores:
Today, I am asking you to join with me in standing up with Assemblywoman Lucy Flores. Let’s light up twitter with the hashtag #FierceFlores to honor the lawmaker’s honesty and her work championing the reproductive freedom and education of all Nevadans.
Flores issued her own statement
“This week, I shared an extremely personal story about a difficult decision I made as a teenager to have an abortion. I shared that story because I felt it was relevant to the importance of sex education in Nevada schools, and my belief that our children need to be armed with good information in order to make good choices. While I am heartened, and deeply moved, by the support I have received from far and wide since my testimony, I want to ensure that we don’t lose focus on the real issue at hand. I don’t want the weight of a serious issue like abortion rights to overwhelm the purpose of this bill, which is meant to ensure that other young people are empowered with information that I simply didn’t have as a young person.
I maintain that educating our children is one of the most important things we can do as legislators, and that should include sex education. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass AB230. AB230 is an important piece of legislation that is sorely needed in our state. Nevada's young people need to have access to information in order to make informed choices, and hopefully avoid having to make difficult decisions as I had to.”
Hysteria from the right began to worry certain Democrats. Here's where things began to really get ugly. The sex education bill was killed, with the cooperation of certain Democrats. Progressives were quick to scathingly denounce the inner circle of the party.
Democrats kill sex ed bill out of political fear
In a story about the death of a bill, which sparked outrage among the Puritans and confusion among those who don’t understand and some who think Planned Parenthood wants to perform abortions in schools, state Sen. Tick Segerblom took the good soldier act to a risible level:
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said the bill didn't go far enough and that Clark County School District does most of the things required in the bill.
"We're not into symbolic acts," he said.
What they are into is a nakedly political act and a shameful and cowardly one, too, designed to protect two lawmakers: Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, who bravely voted for the gay marriage ban repeal at what some said was a risk of excommunication from the LDS church, and Justin Jones, who has to run next year in the swing district that may determine which party holds the majority.
The Senate killed the bill after the Democratic caucus decided, as one insider put it, “that they couldn't vote for it knowing the governor was going to veto and given the push back they got from their constituents.”
As one skeptical and chagrined Democrat told me in a disgusted email, “Senate Ds killed sex end b/c they were too weak to stand up to a block of voters ("constituents") who are vocal and organized but will never vote for Dems -- particularly after the gay marriage vote. They were specifically concerned about rumblings of a challenger to Justin Jones based on this vote -- whose election was supported and endorsed by ...wait for it.... Planned Parenthood.”
Tumblr pages were constructed, like this one: What the hell happened to the sex ed bill
Fast forward to August.
In August, the Washington Post had this story:
The most important race you’ve never heard of
Serving as lieutenant governor of Nevada is not one of the more prestigious positions in American politics. It’s not even a sure sign you’ll win a promotion to the top spot; since Nevada became a state, only seven of the 34 people who have served as lieutenant governor have gone on to become governor.
But this election cycle, Nevada political operatives are buzzing about the race to replace outgoing Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki (R). The winner of next year’s election, after all, may set off a string of dominoes that could determine who runs against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2016.
What was interesting in the story to me was this nugget:
Democratic state Assemblywoman Lucy Flores is considering the race, according to local political observers, but she’s far from the party’s first choice. But would-be top contenders like Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller have both said they won’t run; Masto said in June she wouldn’t be on the ballot in 2014, despite Reid’s urging, while Miller is likely to run for attorney general.
But Reid isn’t done recruiting.
“Team Reid is going all out to find a strong [lieutenant governor] candidate,” said Jon Ralston, Nevada’s resident political expert. “Sandoval already has recruited a strong candidate … and the Dems need one.”
Yes. Democrats need a strong, progressive
candidate—and who better than Lucy Flores?
Flores, who worked tirelessly to get out the vote, especially in the Latino community, which turned the tide for Democrats who got re-elected by that vote, from that community.
So why is the party leadership ignoring Flores?
Questions are being asked.
Sen. Reid’s historical problem with strong women may come back to bite him if Lucy Flores runs for LG
Silence from Harry Reid.
And then on Wednesday, Sept. 4, all of a sudden there was this:
Democrats have new hope for lieutenant governor
With high-level Democrats already conceding Gov. Brian Sandoval's re-election, despite the torrent of "Sandovalcare" news releases from the state Democratic Party (you never know....), the Party of Reid is focused on making it as difficult as possible for the governor (even if he is not so inclined) to run against Prince Harry in 2016.
So as the Republicans, probably by the hundreds, flock to the Station Casinos jewel tonight for Sandoval's handpicked choice for second-in-command, Mark Hutchison, Democrats may soon focus on a new possibility: Longtime education activist Susie Lee, who has evinced an interest in running for office.
Lee is a longtime ally of state Board of Education member Elaine Wynn, and this flattering profile of her role in Communities in School shows her commitment on a key issue for voters. As one key insider put it: "Susie is smart, effective, aggressive. A longtime Nevadan. Brings a unique set of skills to the position and to the campaign - is someone who can get things done. An education champion - long pushing an agenda of equal opportunity for quality education. Ties to gaming so understands value/role of Tourism to this economy. And has demonstrated a commitment to this community."
Oh, and her ability to self-finance.....
Lee's ascension seems to signal the fall from favor of Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who seemed to realize Tuesday when I communicated with her that her stock has plummeted. No longer is she the dynamic young Hispanic with national friends -- now she is the peripatetic, mercurial lawmaker who can't be trusted with This Race. Flores seemed to be contemplating whether to bring her fierce competitiveness to a contest where she would not be anointed, as Lee could be.
Are Latinas supposed to go quietly to the back of the bus, or the back of the line? What does an hermana have to do to get the seal of approval, when she's already done her job like a trooper and delivered Latino votes?
I'm all the way on the East Coast and I smell algo malo from here.
All I got to say is this.
Lucy Flores, if you are reading this—I hope you give them a run for their money.
Can't vote for you, but I sure can contribute to your campaign if you run. I believe in electing more and better Democrats, with an emphasis on the better part of the equation. Lucy Flores initiated a regional PAC to help Latino candidates.
I think that she is one strong Latina candidate who should run for higher office, and should not have to kiss anyone's ... ring ... to do so.
This is the video featuring Lucy Flores that I showed to my students that inspired some of them to get involved in local politics.
You go girl!
Oh, and by the way, one young man on Twitter suggested a new hashtag to join up with #FierceFlores
¿Por qué no?