Friday, December 14, 2007
2007 Texan(s) of the Year
The Texas Progressive Alliance is proud to announce the Texas House leadership team of state representatives Jim Dunnam, Garnet Coleman, and Pete Gallego as our 2007 recipients of the Texan of the Year award.
There may not be three individuals who have done more for Democrats in the state of Texas over the past four years than Dunnam, Coleman, and Gallego. Together in 2007, they led the way for the resurgence of the Texas Democratic Party. They were on the front lines battling Speaker Craddick in the final days of the session, and are now poised to add to the Democratic gains in the House as they continue their roles as co-chairs of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.
Their work together is imperative to the continued progress of Democrats in Texas, but it's their individual efforts that really demonstrate how this leadership team brings out the best in one another for the good of all Texans. Here's a brief highlight of what each of these leaders did over the past year:
Where Democrats had a mere 62 members in the House in 2003, today there are 70, including Kirk England, who announced his intention to switch parties and run as a Democrat in the next cycle. And with the extra troops there was mustered a full frontal assault on Craddick's corrupt leadership, launched by a single question from the Waco Democrat: "Mr. Speaker, what is the process of removing the Speaker of the Texas House?" His mastery of the House rules was incredible to watch.
During the 80th legislative session, Dunnam led efforts to clean up the mess Rick Perry and the Republican leadership made at the Texas Youth Commission. He worked with Coleman and Gallego to lead the fight against expanding tax cuts for the richest 10% of Texans at the expense of health care and education. He passed numerous bills for his district but will forever be remembered for the efforts he made on the House floor, challenging the absolute power of Speaker Craddick.
Coleman is one of the most progressive members of the Texas House. He filed over sixty pieces of legislation, including ending tuition deregulation, overturning the ban on gay marriage, and preventing the construction of new toll roads anywhere in the state of Texas. But beyond those strong policy positions, he successfully passed legislation to expand health care opportunities for former foster children and double the funding for cancer research. He continued his fight to fully restore CHIP -- an effort he's worked for ever since Craddick and his allies kicked hundreds of thousands of kids off their state-sponsored health care beginning in 2003.
Beyond his legislative work, Coleman is the top fundraiser for Texas Democrats and is well-known for his non-stop efforts in supporting House Democrats across the state. He chairs the Legislative Study Group, which received a Silver Star award from the TPA for its policy work.
Gallego is the chair of of the largest bipartisan legislative caucus in the Texas House, the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus. He also sits on the national board of NALEO. He was a top lieutenant for Speaker Pete Laney, and his work from that better time allows him to remain one of the most trusted members of the Texas House.
His policy issues are far-reaching and range from helping protect our state's natural resources to preventing those horrid voter ID bills behind the scenes. Gallego also tempered some of the more controversial issues of the session, including immigration and security. He often makes waves quietly inside the Capitol, but his efforts help thousands of Texans from all walks of life.
Together, Representatives Gallego, Dunnam, and Coleman are extremely deserving of our 2007 Texan of the Year award.