On May 12, 2003, a few dozen House Democrats loaded on a bus to Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were standing up against spectacular odds, trying to beat back Tom Delay's congressional redistricting map that was being shoved down their throats by Speaker Tom Craddick and the new Republican majority in the Texas House. Those House Democrats made a stand we hadn't seen in Texas for quite some time, and when they came back to Austin four days later, they promised to continue fighting.
Today, we can see the results of that long fight, of that never-give-up attitude that has carried House Democrats through the past eight legislative sessions. Yesterday, not a single Democratic incumbent lost, Democrats held their open seats, and Democrats defeated at least four (probably five) Republican incumbents.
In West Texas, we saw Joe Heflin beat back Jim Landtroop to hold Speaker Pete Laney's seat, a victory few predicted possible. With a candidate that knocked on over 6,000 doors, money and resources for excellent GOTV and direct mail programs, and with Speaker Laney's tremendous help, Democrats won.
In East Texas, we saw Rep. Chuck Hopson defeat his most potent challenger in a district that is over 70% Republican. With a candidate who is true to his district and a campaign team young and old from across Texas, Democrats won.
In the suburbs of Austin, Dallas, and Houston, we saw Democrats pick-up four seats. In North Texas, Paula Hightower Pierson knocked off Republican Rep. Toby Goodman, and Allen Vaught surprised almost everyone by knocking off Rep. Bill Keffer. In Houston, Ellen Cohen soundly defeated Rep. Martha Wong after Wong decided to insult the intelligence of her constituents, and after a tremendously organized GLBT community supported Cohen at every step. And here in Austin, Valinda Bolton won a Republican open seat, turning Travis County blue in every corner. With dedication, determination, and a courageous fight, Democrats won.
Rural and suburban. North, South, East, and West. Across every demographic, Texas Democrats showed they can win. They won by offering real solutions and real alternatives. They won by running smart, effective campaigns that focused on issues instead of insults. They won by bringing people of all communities together, and they won despite millions of dollars spent against them in dirty attacks by corrupt Republican donors.
Together, we helped move Texas forward. In the coming weeks and months, let's stick together, and prepare for the next step: fulfilling our campaign promises by crafting and passing important solutions to the critical issues facing Texas.
Congratulations. Now get to work.