Texan lashes out at Bush in speech
In national broadcast, state senator accuses GOP of stealing elections
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, utilizing a coast-to-coast platform given to
her by her national party, on Saturday accused Republicans of trying to steal elections.
"The three R's recount, recall and re-redistricting are the new playbook for a narrow Republican
majority attempting to use government to expand partisan power," Van de Putte said in the Democrats' broadcast response to
President Bush's weekly radio address.
"In Texas, they want to use redistricting to cancel the votes of millions of rural, independent
and minority voters and to dictate who their congressman should be," she said.
Many Democrats contend that Republicans stole the 2000 presidential election during the Florida
recount and say the GOP now is unfairly using a recall effort to oust Democratic California Gov. Gray Davis.
In Texas, Democrats contend that Republicans have taken illegal actions to try to undo congressional
boundaries drawn by a federal court in 2001 after legislators failed to agree on a map.
Van de Putte, a San Antonio lawmaker who is chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, was
picked by national party leaders in an effort to bring national attention to the ongoing redistricting battle.
Texas Republicans, at the urging of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, are
eager to erase the 17-15 Democratic majority in the state's U.S. House delegation. Republicans swept all statewide offices
in last November's election and have majorities in both the state Senate and the state House.
The GOP effort was stifled in this year's legislative session when 51 House Democrats went
to Oklahoma for a week to block action by depriving the house of a quorum. Senate Democrats fled to New Mexico for 45 days
to block action during a special session. Republican Gov. Rick Perry called the Legislature to Austin for a third special
session that began last week.
Van de Putte placed blame directly on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., claiming that redistricting
"is still being forced upon us by pressure from the president's chief strategist, Karl Rove."
"Because contrary to claims he is a 'different kind of Republican,' our President Bush is
using the power of the White House to help Tom DeLay steal six congressional seats from Texas voters," Van de Putte said.
Bush said recently that he would not get involved in the redistricting fight. Van de Putte
on Saturday renewed the Democrats' call for Bush to order the Republicans to give up the fight.
"Mr. President, you can end this with one phone call to Governor Perry. You can call Karl
Rove into your office and tell him to end the worst attack on minority voters since the passage of the Voting Rights Act,"
she said. "You can tell Tom DeLay that Republicans will not relegate Hispanics and African Americans to second-class citizenship."
In a reference to Bush's ongoing attempt to win support from Hispanics and blacks, Van de
Putte added, "The president cannot claim he wants to win our hearts while the White House signals it's OK to steal our votes."
"This is not just politics as usual," she said. "This is bigger than Texas. It's part of
a national pattern that threatens to make a mockery of our precious democracy, where the powerful change the rules when the
people get in their way."
Though billed as the Democratic response to Bush's weekly radio address, Van de Putte's remarks
were unrelated to Bush's broadcast comments, which centered on helping small businesses. The dueling addresses often are unrelated.
ON THE WEB: Van de Putte's speech can
be heard at www.txdemocrats.org.