Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, visited San Marcos Saturday kicking off a statewide effort to reach out to Texas households.
Van de Putte met with supporters in the afternoon before a scheduled block walk coordinated by the Hays County Democratic Party. She addressed issues such as public education, healthcare, equal pay and college affordability. She also spoke about the increase of young people involved in this year’s campaign.
“When we went to college, there was a lot of activism on a lot of college campuses because of the Vietnam War,” Van de Putte said. “We saw activism because it directly affected our lives, and the lives of our friends, and our brothers and our boyfriends. For parents, it was their sons and their daughters.”
Van de Putte said the activism trend continues today, as state legislation is affecting students directly, particularly in the form of higher education budget cuts.
“The population of Texas State has exploded, and particularly this school is one of the most successful schools with first generation college students,” Van de Putte said. “They beat almost every university.”
The rising costs of college tuition are results of budget cuts to higher education, and middle-class families are often forced to take out large loans, Van de Putte said.
“There’s this real feeling, especially for folks in the middle class, of, ‘Are my kids going to get to go to college? Are my kids going to be $40,000 in debt?’” Van de Putte said. “What students need to know and what voters need to know is that this election is going to be a clear choice between who wants to invest in our education and who wants to brag about continuing cuts.”
Assisting the Hays County Democrats were representatives of Battleground Texas, an organization dedicated to increasing the democratic minority in Texas. A democratic presidential candidate has not won Texas since 1976 when Jimmy Carter was elected.
“We have so many electoral votes in the presidential election, and everyone always assumes it’s going to go Republican,” said Cicely Kay, a leader of the Kyle-Buda area’s effort of Battleground Texas. “There are states like Ohio that are much smaller and they have this huge say in presidential elections. That is the whole goal of Battleground Texas—to turn Texas into a place where we can have more competition here and hopefully eventually turn it blue.”
Kay said the biggest issue for Democrat campaigns in Texas is a low rate of voter turnout.
“Our problem here is not necessarily that we’re a red state, but that we’re a non-voting state and we have such slow voter turnout,” Kay said. “We’re last or second to last in voter turnout in the whole country, and it’s such a shame.”