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Watson, candidate’s daughter rally University Democrats

Monday, February 1, 2010 by Michael Kanin

It didn’t quite pack the same punch of the State of the Union crowd, but the University of Texas Democrats did get a brush with regional political celebrity as they gathered last week to hear State Senator Kirk Watson and Elena White, daughter of Texas gubernatorial candidate Bill White talk about the November 2010 general election.


Both Watson, who was fiery at times, and White, who seemed comfortable in front of her collage-aged peers, stressed that it was important for Travis County Democrats to not become complacent.


“Let me tell you what happens…if we become complacent,” said Watson. “We take away a real advantage that we’re going to have in 2010….Travis County serves as an opportunity to create a margin of victory that will make a difference for our gubernatorial candidate.”


Watson, who wore a Bill White campaign sticker on his lapel, went on to blame state Republicans for leaving college-aged Texans with something less than their parents had inherited. “You right now stand the chance–and I’m sorry to say it this way but it’s important because it’s why you need to be engaged,” he said, “(but) you are going to be part of the first generation of Texans that don’t inherit excess infrastructure as you look toward your future and build your economy.”


He went on to accuse his political opponents of “squandering” the collective inheritance of future Texans and further hammered the members of the status quo who, in his estimation, had eroded public education in the state and “chose to politicize college tuition.”


Watson closed by denying that his desire for change was equivalent with a lack of Texas pride. “I am proud of Texas,” he said. “But I don’t believe in the cynical argument that if you aspire to be better, if you dream of doing good, and if you’re willing to fix obvious mistakes, that means your not proud of Texas. We’re all proud of Texas. We want to be proud of the people that lead Texas.”


Watson then introduced White, who he called a “rising sophomore” at Rice University. After detailing the process by which her father decided to open his run for Governor, she also discussed the state’s public education issues.


“(My father) found it ridiculous that when something goes missing from a store, police track it down in a matter of hours, yet when a student has dropped out of school we let that student go,” she said. “It’s not the fault of the educators…we need more resources.” Citing the qualities that she says she saw on display with the Education Graduation program that White instituted as Mayor of Houston, she added that “(this) is the sort of leadership that we need at the Texas level.”


She reminded her audience not to sleep through the March 2 primary. “This primary is important,” she said. “This primary is important for getting people registered…getting people in our systems, our databases so that we can keep contacting them for the general election making sure that all of the candidates down the line get…name recognition, get mobilized together so that we can have a winning team there in 2010.”


White then struck a hopeful demographic note, citing El Paso as “indicative” of the potential blue shift that Texas could face in the coming years. She then called her father’s campaign one “filled with young minds with bright ideas,” and suggested that interested parties could (as long as they are over 21) “rent a bar, and hold a chill with Bill session.”


“We need your help…this year,” she said.


Among the local Democrats who took advantage of the opportunity to meet students and hand out stickers were veteran Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gomez and her rival for the Precinct 4 seat Raul Alvarez; current ADA and would-be district judge Karen Sage and one of her opponents, Mindy Montford; U.S. House hopeful Lainey Melnick; and – judging by the applause – University Democrats’ favorite and County Court candidate John Lipscombe. Though none of these candidates addressed the group, most made themselves available after the event.

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