AUSTIN — Focus on a just-launched school year and fall sports turned east to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 28-30, and to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 4-6.
Texans took prominent roles at both conventions, in which the Republican Party nominated former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and the Democratic Party nominated incumbent President Barack Obama.
San Antonio mayor Juliàn Castro delivered the keynote address to the Democrats and U.S. Senate nominee and former state solicitor general Ted Cruz spoke to the Republicans. Cruz and former state Rep. Paul Sadler, D-Henderson, are competing to succeed U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas, who chose not to seek reelection.
Also speaking at the Democratic convention were U.S. Reps. Charlie Gonzalez of San Antonio and Al Green of Houston; actress and Obama campaign co-chair Eva Longoria of Corpus Christi and San Antonio; Cecile Richards of Austin, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America; and Benita Veliz of San Antonio who stumped for the DREAM Act, a path to citizenship for certain undocumented U.S. residents. DREAM stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.
Republican U.S. Reps. Francisco “Quico” Canseco of San Antonio and Pete Sessions of Dallas spoke at the GOP convention. Canseco’s opponent in the race for Congressional District 23 spanning from San Antonio to Del Rio to El Paso, is state Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. Actress, rancher and Republican activist Janine Turner of Dallas spoke. Two prominent Texas Republicans, both of them former 2012 presidential candidates, were not given speaking roles at the convention: U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Lake Jackson and Gov. Rick Perry.
Texas, with 36 electoral votes, is likely to go Republican again on Nov. 6, as indicated by a consensus of published analyses, and is considered a must-win state for Romney. At the Democratic convention, however, Mayor Castro said the 2012 general election is possibly the last general election for Texas to be labeled a “red state” because of its rapidly growing minority population that tends to favor Democratic Party candidates.
TEA to ask for waiver
The Texas Education Agency on Sept. 6 announced plans to submit a request to the U.S. Department of Education, asking it to waive certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the “No Child Left Behind Act” – a federal law that the administration of then-President George W. Bush considered a key achievement.
In seeking the request, Education Commissioner Michael Williams said the U.S. Department of Education’s slowness to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, plus troubles associated with local education administrators having to meet and function within two different assessment and accountability systems “takes valuable resources and time away from the intent and focus of improving student achievement and school accountability.”
Voting site gets attention
Secretary of State Hope Andrade announced last week that VoteTexas.gov, the official online source for voting information in Texas, is enjoying the spotlight on Texas.gov, the state’s official online portal. Texans can visit VoteTexas.gov to see if they are registered to vote, download a voter registration application, and find answers to frequently asked questions about voting. They can also find updates about upcoming elections and even remind friends and family to vote. The last day to register to vote for the November election is Oct. 9.
Word out on pertussis
Mosquito-borne West Nile Virus looms large as a threat to public health, but last week, the word about highly contagious whooping cough went out.
On Sept. 6, Texas Department of State Health Services cited six deaths and more than 1,000 confirmed cases of pertussis, widely known as whooping cough, so far this year in Texas.
The health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get a pertussis vaccine “any time after 20 weeks gestation and others who will be around infants should also get a shot: fathers, older siblings, other caregivers and health care professionals like doctors and nurses who care for babies.”
“Patients who have pertussis should not go back to work or school until they’ve had five days of antibiotic treatment,” according to the health department.