Texas Primary Run-Off Round-Up

Many folks didn't realized we even had primary run-off elections in Texas yesterday. But we did and now we know exactly what November's ballot will look like in the Lone Star State.

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez snagged the Democratic nomination for Governor. This is huge - because she is now the first Latina candidate to win a major-party nomination for the office. This is not so huge because she is very likely to get pummeled in the general.

In the Texas Senate two women were facing off in a Democratic primary in Houston and Rita Lucido came out on top with 57.76% of the vote. SHE will be facing ANOTHER woman in the fall - Senator Joan Huffman. As previously mentioned here on Pink Granite - the spike in female candidates will narrow after the elections as many women are running against other women.

As I heard earlier today from a reporter for the Texas Tribune "the empire struck back" last night - and although Abby Livingston was referencing a Democratic Congressional race in Houston (also two women fighting for the same seat) I think the same rings true for the outcome of the Republican primaries for Texas House.  The outcome seems to high-five outgoing Speaker Joe Straus and his more center-right allies. Since Straus himself is not running for re-election (tear!), his seat was up for grabs and the candidate he endorsed won easily.

If you're a local here in Austin, Sheryl Cole managed to win the run-off for Rep. Dawnna Dukes seat in the Texas House keeping that seat #pinkgranite.


Smith and Cohen Relocate to Raise Your Hand Texas
  Dr. Michelle Smith

Dr. Michelle Smith

  Dr. Libby Cohen

Dr. Libby Cohen

From the Raise Your Hand Texas website:

Raise Your Hand Texas has announced that Dr. Michelle Smith, a lobbyist with HillCo Partners, will serve as Director of Governmental Relations, and Dr. Libby Cohen, an Oxford graduate and a dynamic community organizer, will serve as Director of Advocacy and Outreach. Smith will lead the organization’s efforts to fight for Texas public schools in the upcoming legislative session while Cohen focuses on organizing a broad base of grassroots support among civic leaders, educators, business leaders, parents and other advocacy organizations.

“Michelle and Libby make a formidable team, and will work side-by-side to enhance educational opportunities for our kids. I am confident they will successfully carry the torch for Texas public schools in what’s bound to be a tough legislative session,” said Charles Butt, Chairman and CEO of H-E-B and founder of Raise Your Hand Texas. “Making an impact at the Capitol will require a Texas-sized effort — we’ve got to rally the whole state to stand up and fight for equity, quality and a strong public education system for all children. Our future depends on it.”

Named to Capitol Inside’s Top 100 Hired Guns lobby list in 2017, Smith is known as a savvy and knowledgeable advocate for education with a deep understanding of how things work within the classroom walls as well as the Capitol halls. A former public school teacher with a doctorate in school improvement from Texas State University, Smith has combined her passion for education with a love for public policy instilled by her father, beloved former Texas legislator Jimmie Don Aycock. For the past seven years, Smith has lobbied on behalf of education-based for-profits, non-profits, advocacy organizations and superintendent-led associations. She has served as a lobbyist for Raise Your Hand Texas in the past, and as executive director of the Fast Growth School Coalition.

“Raise Your Hand Texas is a leading voice for public education in Texas, and I’m honored to join the team. The organization’s work positively impacts the lives of the 5.4 million young Texans in our public school systems,” Smith said. “I look forward to helping elevate the good work of Texas public schools, and advocating strongly and effectively on their behalf at the State Capitol. It’s imperative that our state supports, funds and advances a public education system that ensures all students are well prepared to enter the 21st century workforce.”

Libby Cohen, originally from Dallas, has served for the past several years as an organizer for Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), where she created unique voter organizing strategies and helped secure $180 million in supplemental education funding for Baltimore City Schools, 350 new community health workers positions to help residents in distressed neighborhoods, and $3 million for park renovations and facilities updates in the Irvington community. She helped to negotiate a $135 million community benefits agreement attached to Port Covington, the largest urban redevelopment project currently underway in the United States. Cohen also helped found a non-profit in Cambodia dedicated to fighting child sexual exploitation. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, a Rhodes Scholar, and holds a doctorate in economic and social history from the University of Oxford.

Danielle Trevino to Manage PR for Austin Chamber
 Danielle Trevino, via LinkedIn

Danielle Trevino, via LinkedIn

Danielle Trevino has taken a new role as the Public Relations Manager at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. 

Danielle joins the Austin Chamber after serving as director of communications at Public Blueprint, an Austin-based public affairs firm. Prior to this, she served under Commissioner George P. Bush as the first-ever social media strategist at the Texas General Land Office. As the first person in her role, Danielle earned Texas' oldest state agency the title of "Best State Agency on Twitter" from the Texas Social Media Research Institute two years in a row and garnered more than 100,000 followers on the agency's social media platforms in less than 3 years. Prior to her time at the Land Office, she managed social media for Gov. Greg Abbott's gubernatorial campaign on a team named one of the best digital operations of the 2014 campaign cycle.

Danielle grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and is a graduate of Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. She holds concurrently earned degrees from the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication: a bachelor's degree in journalism and a Master of Mass Communications. Her crowning achievement while at ASU was being named the inaugural recipient of the Aspire Award for senior-level public relations students and hosting an accompanying Q&A session with Cutlip & Center's Effective Public Relations author Dr. Glen Broom.

Congrats to Danielle!