The latest episode of the National Podcast of Texas features Annie’s List executive director Royce Brooks. Next month will mark a year since she was installed as the leader of the sixteen-year-old organization that recruits, trains, and supports progressive women seeking office at both the state and local levels. The Fort Worth native and Rice graduate came to the job after serving as Atlanta’s first-ever chief equity officer and was previously policy director for Sylvester Turner’s campaign for mayor of Houston. She was also statewide policy director for Wendy Davis’s 2014 campaign for Texas governor. Under Brooks’s direction, Annie’s List is recruiting candidates to run for the seventeen Texas House seats their research suggests are vulnerable in 2020, ahead of the legislature’s redistricting-focused session in 2021.
Three takeaways from her appearance on the National Podcast of Texas:
1. With redistricting coming in the 2021 session of the legislature, Brooks believes it’s imperative Texas Democrats use the 2020 cycle to flip the House to Democratic control.
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“We expect Texas to gain three congressional districts based on population growth over the last decade. And that population growth has absolutely been driven by communities of color and by young people. If we’re able to flip control of the chamber, we will have the chance for those districts to be drawn to reflect the communities that are the nexus of that growth. And if we don’t, then they won’t and we’ll be effectively locked out for another decade.”
2. Brooks believes progressives need to work better together instead of arguing about who’s more progressive.
“I hope that we can get to a point of understanding as a movement that there is space for both and sundry. We are, in fact, part of the same system. It’s not two teams. It’s not the Twitter progressives versus the electeds. That’s all one team. And I think that’s something that our opponents on the other side of the aisle have long since figured out how to navigate in a better way than we have.”
3. Brooks views Wendy Davis’s unsuccessful 2014 gubernatorial campaign as a valuable building block for Texas’ progressive moment.
“It’s my strong opinion that the success that Beto was able to achieve was in no small part based on foundations that were laid during the Wendy Davis campaign. Many of the organizations that had been organizing in Texas for the midterms came into existence or began to work with each other during the Wendy Davis campaign. And the Wendy Davis campaign tried a lot of things for the first time, some of which turned out to be bad ideas [that] were discarded in favor of something that worked better. That type of work has to happen. I think that where we are today, as a progressive community, really owes something to Wendy Davis and her leadership five years ago.”