Rachel Maddow   |  June 27, 2013

Invigorated Democrats draw political battle plan for Texas

Jeremy Bird, senior advisor for Battleground Texas and former field director for the Obama campaign, talks with Rachel Maddow about the effort and energy going into making elections matter again in Texas and defeating Republican rigging and shenanigans.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in austin , texas , there's a nail salon where you can get what i think are very fancy manicu manicures. i'm extremely not an expert on this subject. but at this austin salon, you can get on your nails, for example, a portrait of carl seguin, the cosmologist. also at this nail salon , puns. you're my butter half. and wendy davis nail art. if yours is one wendy davis picture short of being perfect, now is your chance to fix that problem. yes, there's wendy davis nail art in austin , texas . half the wendy davis nail art proceeds will go to planned parenthood . also, in wendy davis news, connie britton pitched in the role of the movie, miss coach as senator davis . wendy davis at least for the moment is a political phenomenon. texas state senator wendy davis filibusters her way to democratic stardom. texas ' newest political star, wendy davis feminist superhero. filibuster hero dares texas to draft her for a run at the governorship. wendy davis , folk hero . the pro-choice caucus in the united states house of representatives today put out a statement thanking senator davis who is, after all, a state senator, thanking her for her all day, all night filibuster. and on this show last night, cecile richards , national president of planned parenthood and completely and totally of texas politics , cecile richards here last night marveled about what happened with wendy davis this week in texas .

>> there were folks obviously there on the senate floor, but thousands of people outside in the rotunda filling the capitol. and it was amazing. it was absolutely amazing. i have never seen anything like it in all my history of organizing or as a texan.

>> now the big question in democratic politics is, what's next here? last night our own beloved chris hayes put the question of wendy davis ' political future to wendy davis , herself. unlike most politicians, she actually answered the question.

>> your state has not elected a statewide democrat for quite some time. are you going to run for governor?

>> you know, i would be lying if i told you that i hadn't had aspirations to run for a statewide office. i love this state , and it's been an incredible opportunity to represent it in the texas senate . i think the real story will be, will the sentiment of people hold? will they demonstrate their desire for new leadership in this state ? if yesterday was any indication, i think chances are pretty good that that's going to be the case.

>> if he had not been on notice before, texas governor rick perry is now on notice. about 15 hours about wendy davis proclaimed her aspirations to run for statewide office, governor perry found himself in front of a microphone and a camera and an antiabortion audience that gave him a standing ovation when he tried to mansplain the true meaning of wendy davis ' own family. trying to mansplain that history to wendy davis .

>> even the woman who filibustered the senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. she was the daughter of a single woman . she was a teenage mother, herself. she managed to eventually graduate from harvard law school and serve in the texas senate . it's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.

>> you got that, senator davis , about your own life and what you need to learn from it? isn't it nice that you managed to get through law school ? in case you think rick perry has not meant to judge wendy davis and her life in uncomfortable terms, if you were expecting an apology, here he was on dallas' affiliate later.

>> she didn't come from particularly good circumstances. what if her mom had said, you know, i just can't do this, i don't want to do this. at that particular point in time, i think it becomes very personal.

>> to all of this, wendy davis had a replay.

>> i would just say that it really demeans the office that he holds to make a personal statement like that.

>> so this, this happened today. rick perry clearly thinks that wendy davis could be his opponent should he choose to run for re-election as governor. wendy davis seems like she would be a formidable candidate, particularly given the fund raises power of her new national profile. also wendy davis could be out of her current job in terms of the race. it allows texas republicans to redraw the congressional district map in a way that targets wendy davis essentially out of her seat. but they cannot redistrict democratic voters clear out of the state entirely. could wendy davis ' rocketing popularity on her side of the aisle sustain her through a run for governor? does this moment in texas politics mean the longtime democratic pipe dream of texas turning blue is actually sort of at least a little on its way? joining us now for the interview is a man who would know. a former obama campaign field director who's working on the grassroots effort to transform texas from a red state into a blue state . his name is jeremy burt, senior adviser for battleground texas .

>> rachel, thanks for having me.

>> watching a new york city tv show talk about texas politics in this moment in abortion and rick perry politics, what are we missing? what are we misunderstanding about texas politics ?

>> look, i think what we saw this week was three things that have been really going on in texas for a long time. one, if you look at that gallery, if you look at those people that are there, you see a ground swell of support. and these folks are all across the state . 254 counties. and they have been organizing for a long time. i think you see a huge group of folks that are ready to go. the second thing that you saw is there's a great bench of democratic folks, wendy davis , obviously, senator davis , her colleagues in the senate. when you look at some of the mayors across the state of texas , when you look at some of the congressmen and women you had on your show earlier tonight. you see a bench of truly inspiring leaders down there and the third thing you see is republican extremism. they have gone so far to the right. they have continued to alienate women voters, hispanic voters, african-american voters, asian voters. voters all across the state of texas . and you see that on the national scale which you've talked about today, but you see it in texas i think in more stark terms than you see anywhere else.

>> it seems like what texas republicans have done with the power that they have had in the state for so long is that they have used the power that they have got to structurally change the state electorally in a way that means that democrats will never have a chance.

>> well, what they've tried to do, and you see this with gerrymandering, they've tried to make elections not matter.

>> yeah.

>> they've tried to take it to where people's vote doesn't count. you look at the 2012 election, for example, you have 3 million latinos in texas who didn't vote. you have barely half of the population voting. the eligible population voting. that doesn't just happen overnight. it happens with a systemic attempt to make people think that their vote doesn't matter. to continue to gerrymander and to continue to try to make districts that aren't competitive. and they've done that systemically over time . what we have to do is go back to those voters all across the valley. in harris county , in dallas, all across this state . and talk to people about why their vote does matter. there are specific races that they can't gerrymander. at the county level. at the mayoral level. we need to win those local elections . continue to turn more and more of those counties blue. and over time we can actually have an impact statewide and have some elections that we can win and start to change the state .

>> when you say go talk to those voters, what does that mean in terms of investments, in terms of resources, in terms of the kind of operation you're trying to mount?

>> it needs to be texas size. we have to go everywhere. we have to go to rural areas --

>> go how, though? holding meetings? knocking on people's doors in what's your effort?

>> all of it, organizing. basically a couple of key things. one is registration. there are at least 2.2 million unregistered hispanics, african-americans, and asian americans in texas today that we need to put on the voter rolls. put a registration form in front of them and say, get out there and vote. over the last couple of weeks, couple of months actually, battleground texas , our folks on the ground have trained about 2,000 folks. in texas they make you go to the county clerk , the county registrar to get trained before you can go register somebody in texas . we've been starting to train those folks. we've got to go talk to people about that, get them on the rolls. once they're on the rolls, we've got to get them to turn out. we've got to go to their doors, call them on the phone, have to have a digital outreach program. we have to find them wherever they are, faulk abotalk about the importance of the election. when people see how important their vote is and what it means for issues that matter to them, they'll start turning out.

>> if rick perry runs for re-election, can any democrat beat him? or does he have it locked up?

>> you've seen what rick perry has done recently. the interesting thing is not just this week, the entire session, the legislative session was filled up with the debate around the $5 million that rick perry and republican extremists in texas took away from local schools.

>> yeah.

>> right? and i think that voters in texas are starting to really see that. they're starting to see their leaders rick perry , ted cruz , against immigration reform , against public funding of education, against health insurance reform, against all these things that hispanic voters and other voters in texas think are good for their families. and i think they're getting tired of it so i think whether rick perry runs again or somebody else runs, we have to draw the contrast, get the folks registered and turn them out. if the people who are in texas vote, we can win, but it's about changing the electorate and making it look more like the population.

>> you speak like a man in the middle of a fight. you're not talking about the fight, you are fighting it which makes me feel like this effort is more alive than i had previously realized. jeremy bird, former obama campaign field director. senior adviser for battleground texas . i have a feeling we'll be speaking