Wendy Davis

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas Senate adopted a three-fifths rule, lowering the number of senators required to bring a bill to the floor for debate, after a heated discussion Wednesday. The procedural shift will effectively prevent Senate Democrats from blocking debates and votes on even moderately well-supported Republican legislation.

Until Wednesday, a two-thirds rule, which had been in place in the Texas Senate since 1947, required 21 of 31 senators’ votes to bring a bill to the floor. Under the new three-fifths rule, presented by state Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), only 19 senators’ votes will be required.

Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), who opposed the rule change, said the three-fifths rule will determine which bills are given full consideration during the session.

“This is one of the most important things we will do as a body because it lays out the road map of what we will and will not accomplish,” Ellis said. 

Although Eltife argued that the resolution was not a partisan issue, the vote to change the rule split largely along party lines. Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) was the only Democrat to vote in favor of the new rule.

 “It’s not just about Democrat versus Republican issues,” Eltife said. “It’s about better governing.”

Eltife said that while he has historically supported a two-thirds rule, he thinks the switch to a three-fifths rule will make the legislative process more efficient.

“Unfortunately, what I have seen happening over the past 10 years is we are experiencing an increased number of ways to get around the two-thirds rule, including special orders and special sessions,” Eltife said.

The Texas Senate was called into a well-publicized special session in 2013, when former state Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered against Senate Bill 5, a restrictive abortion bill. The bill, which resulted in the closure of more than 30 abortion clinics in Texas, became a lightning rod that brought thousands of pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion protesters to the Capitol.

Ashley Alcantara, communications representative for the University Democrats, said the two-thirds rule allowed Davis, whose party made up a minority in the Senate, to voice her opinion on the bill. If the three-fifths rule had been enacted during the 2013 Senate session, Davis would not have had the opportunity to filibuster.

“I think it’s important that, even though Democrats are minority, they are still able to influence bills like that,” Alcantara said.

 College Republicans at Texas declined to comment on the rule change.

 Opponents of the three-fifths rule, such as Sen. José Rodríguez (D-El Paso), said he thinks the rule change will stifle the voices of minorities and the senators who represent them. Rodríguez said he and other Senate Democrats represent nearly 60 percent of African-Americans and Hispanics in Texas.

“These senators will be unable, as a result of this change, to prevent a bad bill from coming to the floor,” Rodríguez said.

In addition to the three-fifths rule change, the Senate voted to restrict access to the Senate floor to state officials, permitted guests and authorized members of the press. 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he was pleased with the decision in a statement released by his office.

“Today’s action will make the Texas Senate even better, and it will help us deliver a conservative agenda a majority of voters elected us to pass,” Patrick said.

On Jan. 13, the 84th Legislature of Texas convened. Following a gubernatorial campaign that focused heavily on potential improvements to Texas’s education system, thanks in large part to the platform of Democratic candidate Wendy Davis, the legislature will vote on several bills this session that regard primary education in Texas. UT students should pay attention to several upcoming bills because, as future taxpayers, it will affect members of our campus in addition to the general landscape of primary education in Texas.

Although Wendy Davis did not win the gubernatorial election, one of the biggest dreams of her education platform may be realized should the Legislature pass House Bill 124, authored by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio. HB 124 proposes the expansion of free pre-kindergarten education to include children that are unable to speak or comprehend the English language, homeless, educationally disadvantaged or are/ever have been under the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services, in addition to the children of active duty servicemen and children who have lost a parent while serving in the armed forces (as the law currently stands). HB 124 is an enormous step forward in aiding the facilitation of early childhood education for children whose education is compromised by means outside of their control. 

House Bill 256, authored by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, also seeks to give opportunities to those whose opportunities for educational success are at risk. Although the state’s compensatory education fund already lends help to pregnant students and student-parents, HB 256 proposes an expansion of the monetary assistance for some of the state’s students that are most likely to drop out due to outside influences. HB 256 would provide child care services or assistance with child care expenses for student-parents at risk of dropping out of school, or help with paying the cost of day care or assisted transportation through a life skills program in schools. Aiming to help student parents at risk of dropping out of school, HB 256 would empower student-parents to get a high school diploma and ensure the care of their children while they’re at school. Though dissenting representatives may argue that it is not the responsibility of the state to fund the child care services of students who chose to become parents, HB 256 is only an expansion of aid that already exists—aid that the state has already decided it is responsible to provide. HB 256 is an investment in a future generation of taxpayers by giving the student-parents the greatest opportunity to succeed (and give back to the state) financially. 

Other bills, though well intentioned, may not be pragmatic. House Bill 387, authored by Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, proposes to take $1 billion out of the economic stabilization fund, colloquially known as the ESF or Rainy Day Fund, to distribute evenly among Texas school districts for the purpose of raising teacher salaries. As public servants who have dedicated their lives to the education of our society’s youngest generations, teachers certainly deserve the highest salary that can be afforded. Furthermore, every UT student owes their current educational situation to at least one teacher along their individual path to higher education. However, the Rainy Day Fund is not the place from which to draw these necessary funds. The Rainy Day Fund was created to be a savings account for the state, not a means of paying for normal funding. To use it as such will create a dangerous precedent for the state. The one-time extraction of $1 billion to increase teachers’ salaries would leave teachers unsatisfied two years from now when the 85th Legislature may not vote to extract another $1 billion to continue funding their increased salaries. Though increasing teachers’ salaries is a noble endeavor, and one I hope to see lawmakers pursue further, HB 387 is remiss in its proposal of using a finite and unreliably-fluctuating account to pay for a permanent increase in teacher pay. 

The upcoming legislative season may affect several changes in the landscape of primary education in Texas. Although members of the UT community have passed out of the direct influence of bills that endeavor to reform Texas’s education system, UT students should remain vigilant in their voice over bills that could affect them as taxpayers or parents.

Smith is a history junior from Austin. She writes about state politics. Follow Smith on Twitter @clairseysmith.

Wendy Davis speaks to supporters at her election night party in Fort Worth after losing to the race to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

I spent Tuesday night at the Driskill Hotel in a circle of Democrats as we all swapped our phones out with the one charger someone had brought along so we could continue poring over election returns as they rolled in.  

As the night progressed, the atmosphere became more grim. You can’t sugarcoat Tuesday night — it was bad for Texas, and it was bad for the country. But I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have spent the evening with than my friends, whom I’d been standing alongside for the past 18 months, as they poured their hearts and their passion and their energy into what President Dwight Eisenhower once called “the noblest of professions”: politics.

You see, my friends believe in a dauntingly brilliant future. They envision a Texas with bright skies, clear air and clean water. They want to see a Texas that ranks first in voter engagement, not dead last. They envision a Texas in which public schools are celebrated and supported because they know a well-educated populace plants the seeds for the prosperity of the next generation. They want to see a Texas that supports minimum wage workers and the elderly and people who can’t access the healthcare they need. In short, they want to see a Texas that works on behalf of all its citizens.

And they believe our government can help us do all these things and live up to our potential. They believe in government as a tool to achieve great and noble goals, because they know that no single entity is ever as strong as our collective hearts and minds. And so in the face of Tuesday night, my friends are going to fight on.

Because let me be clear: The Republican party hardly has a mandate in this state. Twenty-eight percent of voting-eligible Texans voted in the election, which means that less than a fifth of eligible Texans voted for Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate. Young people and people of color overwhelmingly supported Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate, and demographically speaking, that’s where this state is headed.

We’ve known for years that Texas has a serious problem with voter engagement. That’s why organizations such as Battleground Texas and the Texas Democratic Party worked tirelessly to register citizens in the face of harmful, repressive and disenfranchising legislation, because we believe in the right of every citizen to make their voice heard.

Our home county, Travis, is a fantastic example of this. We registered almost 50,000 new voters this cycle, which helped Davis see an increase of 27,000 Travis County votes over Bill White, the previous Democratic gubernatorial candidate, in 2010. Our get out the vote efforts have re-elected a slate of wonderful progressive candidates and managed to flip the only elected office in the county with a Republican incumbent. 

And we plan to continue the fight. Travis County shows that it isn’t enough to register as many voters as you possibly can before the deadline. The Democratic Party’s message is one of diversity and inclusion and opportunity for all, and during the past six years we’ve had the chance to pass terrific legislation that works to achieve just that. Since President Barack Obama has taken office, 4.5 million jobs have been created and unemployment is predicted to drop to 5.4 percent next summer. Now, it’s our job to share that message with the American people.

But we also have to spend the next two years engaging the American public on the issues. To start, we’re going to continue to register as many people as we can. If Tuesday night showed us anything, it’s that the American public overwhelmingly supports progressive issues, even as they elect Republican candidates. We’ll save that dissonance for another article. In the words of Jeremy Bird, senior advisor to Battleground Texas, “We’re not going anywhere.”

I was so proud to be a part of this progressive movement in Texas. Together, thousands of Texans fought for a future they knew to be worthy of the great state we live in. And as Ted Kennedy once said, “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Adams is the communications director for University Democrats. She is a mechanical engineering senior from Dripping Springs.

Governor-elect Greg Abbott, outgoing attorney general, speaks at his election party after winning the gubernatorial race.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Attorney General Greg Abbott was elected the state’s next governor by about a 20-point margin Tuesday night, extending the Republican Party’s hold on statewide elections to 16 years.

At his election night party in Austin, Abbott thanked all Texans, including those who voted against him or not at all.

“We all want to live in safer communities and give all our children lives worthy of their promise,” Abbott said “I am living proof that a young man can have his life broken in half and still rise up to be the governor of this great state.”

Abbott asserted Texas’ role as a trendsetter and said the bonds of being a Texan transcends all other differences in political perspective. He promised that he would work as governor to keep government small and continue to provide economic and educational opportunities for all.

“Now, more than ever, it is a time for Texans to unite to achieve these goals,” Abbott said. “As Texas goes, so goes America. And as America goes, so goes the world. Now, more than ever, we must show Texas-style conservative leadership provides real solutions to the problems Texans face. These priorities are bigger than any single political party because we are Texans first, and, as your governor, I will put Texas first.”

Gov. Rick Perry spoke at Abbott’s party and said other states are looking to Texas for inspiration, as the state has achieved a great deal in his 14 years as governor.

Abbott’s opponent, Wendy Davis, addressed a crowd of supporters in Fort Worth after the results were called.

“The genius and beauty of our democracy is that, ultimately, the power rests with the people,” Davis said. “Even when the results do not go the way we want them to, we celebrate the fact that we live in a country in which the people get to decide their elected leaders — and tonight the people of Texas have spoken.”

Davis remained positive throughout the speech and said she called Abbott as soon as she heard the results.

“Throughout this campaign, Abbott has reminded us how strong he is, how determined he is, and, while he and I disagree on many issues, I know that he loves Texas,” Davis said.

Despite the sweeping statewide Republican victory, Davis asked supporters to continue fighting to turn Texas blue. 

“Please know this,” Davis said. “Your work is not in vain. The only way that we will have lost tonight is if we stop fighting.”

Several other elected officials spoke at Abbott’s party, including Land Commissioner-elect George P. Bush and Agriculture Commissioner-elect Sid Miller. With the Republicans taking the majority in the U.S. Senate, Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn also addressed the crowd.

“The last six years has been a failed experiment of big government,” said Cornyn, who was elected to his third term Tuesday. “Weaker on the national stage and poorer here at home, but we won’t settle for that kind of America.”

Wang reported from Austin and Cobler reported from Fort Worth.

Welcome to The Daily Texan's Election Night Live Blog. Throughout the night, we will provide updates on the biggest statewide and Austin elections.

8:13 p.m. — The Associated Press has called all statewide races for the Republicans, including Patrick in the leiutenant governor's race, State Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, for attorney general, State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, for comptroller, George P. Bush for land commissioner, Sid Miller for agriculture comissioner and Ryan Sitton for railroad commissioner.

8:05 p.m. — The Associated Press has called the senate race for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and the governor election for Abbott. Cornyn leads the senate race with 60 percent of the vote. His opponent, Democrat David Alameel holds 37 percent. For Govenor, Abbott lead Davis 57 to 41 percent.

7:56 p.m. — In other city early voting totals, City Council member Kathie Tovo leads the District 9 race with 50 percent. Fellow City Council member Chris Riley holds 40 percent. The majority early voters in Austin were not in favor of Austin's Proposition 1, which would allocate bond money toward an urban rail line in the city, with 58 percent voting against the proposal.

7:46 p.m. — According to Travis County early voting totals, attorney Steve Adler leads the Austin mayor's race with 39 percent of the vote. City Council member Mike Martinez hold 30 percent of the vote and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole has 15 percent.

"It's a start," Adler said. "We still have a runoff, so we still have a long way go."

7:32 p.m. — With more than 8 percent of precints reported, Republicans have started the night with a strong leads in the major statewide elections. For governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott leads State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Forth Worth with 58 percent of the vote. In the leiutenant governor's race, State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, holds 57 percent and State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, has 40 percent.

6:15 p.m.  With 45 minutes left before the polls close, the line at the on-campus polling location in the Flawn Academic Center is wrapped around the building and more than an hour long in wait time. If you are in the line at 7 p.m., you will be permitted to vote.

Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

Although the accents of gubernatorial candidates Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott are different, both of their ways of speaking have been molded by the same demographic: teenage girls. 

According to Lars Hinrichs, English associate professor and director of the Texas English Project, political candidates have tendencies to take on the accent of the location in which they are running. 

The Texas English Project came to its conclusion on the accents and dialects of Davis and Abbott after analyzing YouTube videos featuring the candidates. 

“Since we have two candidates that have to brand themselves publicly — for the first time — we thought we’d look at how they use Texas English,” Hinrichs said. 

The Texas English Project looked for whose accent varied more across different mediums. Essentially, the research was trying to determine who sounded more “Texan.”

“Abbott is closer, on average, to the Texan end of the spectrum,” Hinrichs said. “Davis is more versatile.”

The study found the extent of Davis’ Texas accent depended on where she was speaking.

“In her campaign announcements, she doesn’t sound Texan at all,” Hinrichs said. “She sounds the most Texan at local rallies.”

Through the study, the project discovered Davis is catching on to a new trend in which the “eh” vowel is pronounced at a lower pitch.

“She consistently overshoots the neutral [accent],” Hinrichs said. “[Her pronunciation is] not just mainstream low. [It is] lower than low. She says ‘bad’ for ‘bed’ and ‘taxes’ for ‘Texas.’ It’s a young, feminine style.”

Hinrichs said women are more likely to pick up new linguistic trends, but research has yet to show how they perceive these trends. 

“In perception studies, you see women having stronger opinions about the symbolic value of linguistic forms,” Hinrichs said. “It’s probably not what’s going to make someone decide if they’re going to vote Democrat or Republican, but it can inform how you perceive somebody.” 

Tony Hernandez, government freshman and intern for the Texas Democratic Party, said he thinks people tend to vote for whom they can relate to more, but he personally sees the role of a candidate’s accent as irrelevant. 

“I never pay attention to accents,” Hernandez said. “The most important thing is the points you are discussing.”

Shooter Russell, government freshman and intern for the Republican Party of Texas, said a candidate’s ability to speak well is more important than the accent.

“People tend to vote for the person that sounds more confident,” Hernandez said.

Russell said he believes a speaker who knows his audience has the ability to sway an election in his favor. 

“Being a relatable orator is better than being confident, but the two do overlap,” Russell said.

Politics aside, the Texas English Project is also researching differences between East and West Texas accents and has found that the differences are scarce. 

“We think it might be at the level of speech rhythm,” Hinrichs said. “[Those from West Texas] tend to be more choppy.”

Hinrichs said the project’s study of the gubernatorial candidates is not intended to sway votes one direction or the other.

“It can’t help you make your decision — unless all you want is a straight-talking Texan,” Hinrichs said. 

State Sen. Wendy Davis speaks with with Evan Smith, The Texas Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief, at The Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday, Sept. 20.
State Sen. Wendy Davis speaks with with Evan Smith, The Texas Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief, at The Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday, Sept. 20.

The updated Huffington Post model of the 2014 Texas gubernatorial race predicts the outcome of the election in Republican candidate Greg Abbott’s favor with a confidence of 99 percent, which should not be a surprise to anyone. Criticism has come from Republicans and Democrats alike in the choice of state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, as the Democratic nominee. Many believe her famous 2013 filibuster is her only claim to fame. It may not be her only one, but it sure is the biggest. Put up against Greg Abbott, who has led a quieter and steadier, but no less controversial, rise to power, Davis is the perfect straw man to the Republican bulldozer machine. Davis’ campaign has been fraught with controversy, leading many to ask, why didn’t they choose someone else who might actually win?

Because the Democratic Party was not trying to win. Not this election.

The Texas Democratic Party is playing the long game. It’s not about this election. Like the Battleground Texas mantra says: Texas can’t turn blue overnight. And in politics, one election is practically one night. No one in the Democratic Party was naïve enough to believe that Davis would win this election. The Davis rhetoric is lofty and often unrealistic. Critics complain that the Texas Democratic platform is utopian and unfeasible. But this campaign wasn’t about proposing implementable policies. This campaign was about making waves, starting conversations and asking provocative questions that Texans will have to think about for the next four years. Four years is a long time, and this is just the start. The important action is to keep the momentum and the undeniable fervor the Davis campaign has sparked so that come 2018, Texas might just turn blue.

Haight is an associate editor.

Election Day is right around the corner, but the result of the governor’s race already seems to be known. A Rasmussen poll has Abbott winning by 11 points and CBS News and the New York Times predicts an even larger spread of 14. The Huffington Post reports that the probability that Abbott will win next week is 95.6 percent. With this comfortable a lead, I think it can be fairly assumed that Attorney General Greg Abbott will be the next governor of Texas. Now, I am not writing this article to gloat about poll numbers and bash Democrats, entirely. I simply want to point out predictions and realities of politics in Texas and in the country briefly.

A little over a year ago, Wendy Davis acquired the spotlight in Texas politics. She filibustered a bill brought to the floor that would place certain standards on facilities providing abortions and make abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy illegal. Democrats saw the praise she was receiving from their supporters and decided that Davis could be the one to take the governor’s office as Perry exited. To follow this dream, a political action committee known as “Battleground Texas,” created to take up the mantle of Texas Democratic politics, embraced Davis as its cause célèbre. The goal of this organization was straightforward: “Turn Texas Blue.” At stake: 38 electoral votes and thus, a secure Democratic presidential dynasty. Millions of dollars were funneled into Texas Democratic campaigns across the state in order to facilitate a political revolution. 

Nevertheless, Davis maintained incredible support from Democrats and created the most excitement. Now it appears that she will lose by double-digit points. I listened to hype about Davis last year, and I now see the results and I wonder what the feeling is among Democrats now. These types of situations are not new to the party. Democratic politicians and strategists can talk the talk and get their constituents fired up, but all too often, they fail to walk the walk.

I will never forget an example of this that I recognized during my freshman year at UT. At the end of my UGS class one day, my professor ended his lecture early to talk about an “important” current event. He spoke of a new movement that was rising in the country. This organized movement, he predicted, would end political corruption and raise taxes on the rich, ending income inequality. He did not tell the class the name of the protest movement but told us to be prepared for a revolutionary change. 

It was later discovered in a discussion session for the class that the movement was called “Occupy Wall Street.” In retrospect, the professor’s words are laughable to say the least. Occupy Wall Street gained recognition for their talk about the 99 percent versus the 1 percent, but it quickly went downhill from there. Some Occupy “camps” were reported to have issues with drugs, rape and assault. What started as a movement that would radically change politics, turned out to be the biggest joke of the decade.

It seems that liberal rhetoric is always outlandish and hyped as the key to a utopian society. When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, some people said he would be the one to end political corruption, turn around the economy, lower the government’s spending, generate peace around the world and have the most transparent administration. Again, as time has passed, we are able to see the correlation between these predictions and what actually occurred. Regardless of how you grade his presidency, I think we can easily say it has greatly fallen short of what it was predicted to be. 

I understand that promising much more than you will deliver is unfortunately the nature of politics. However, I feel that Democrats tend to inflate this trend. Is this a good strategy? How does it affect their constituents? Perhaps the complete strategy is to fill the void of deliverables with more grandiose promises. With respect to the governor’s race poll numbers, Democrats may not be too upset with the results. You can’t take Texas overnight. It will be a long and difficult process. Considering the poor execution of Davis’ campaign, a double-digit loss might be encouraging as the Democrats look toward the future. On the same note, Republicans should not be without concern. Every election is a battle, and contentment is a party’s worst enemy.

Olsen is a finance senior from Argyle. 

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth answers questions following her speech in the SAC Ballroom on Monday morning. She encouraged the audience to participate in early voting, which continues until Friday.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

With one week of early voting left before Election Day, State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, took the microphone in front of a packed SAC Ballroom and encouraged students to vote during her on-campus stop in her gubernatorial campaign.

“For the first time in 14 years, we are going to elect a new governor,” Davis said. “The question is who will that governor be, and the answer is in all of your hands. It’s truly up to you at this point.”

Before Davis spoke to her audience, her 25-year-old daughter, Dru Davis, thanked the crowd of students and locals for their support.

“I’m so excited by the voter turnout and the enthusiasm that you guys have,” Dru said. “I’m also looking forward to Election Day. I’m just excited for all the change that my mom’s going to bring as governor and that Leticia [Van de Putte] is going to bring as lieutenant governor.”

With last week’s UT/Texas Tribune poll showing Davis trailing her gubernatorial opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, by 12 points, Davis said she was unconcerned about her low polling numbers. Davis said her victory would come from her supporters and volunteers.

“We have over 32,000 people volunteering on our campaign right now,” Davis said “These Internet polls really have shown to be wildly inaccurate. In my last two senate races, I was never up in the polls either, but I won. I won because the people were behind me.” 

Chris Riley and Kathie Tovo, Austin City Council members and candidates for the Council’s District 9 seat, attended Davis’ rally, sporting their own campaign pins on their lapels. Riley walked around speaking to audience members and shaking hands.

“I’ve been talking with a lot of people this morning,” Riley said. “There’s a lot of energy around this whole election and a lot of commonality between the themes that Wendy and I have been talking about in this race.”

After the event, Tovo said she attended the rally to show her support for Davis.

“I’m very supportive of her campaign, especially … her policy regarding education and women’s health are critical,” Tovo said. “I have a lot of hope for the work she will do when she’s elected our governor.”

Shelley Merchant, a parent of a prospective UT student, stood toward the back of the compact crowd. She said she heard about Davis’ event on campus while touring UT. 

“I’m a big Wendy supporter,” Merchant said. “I’m a school administrator in White Settlement, Texas — a suburb of Fort Worth. I think she’s looking out for the teachers and the rest of us, and it’s a time for a change in Texas.”

Davis emphasized her support for education reform.

“When I marked my ballot on Monday, and I stood in that ballot box marking my name, I could not help but reflect on myself as a little girl,” Davis said. “If I could have told her she would be standing in that moment in time, it’s that opportunity and that path that I want to make possible for every single child in that state. And the only way to make that possible is to support access to college and affordability of college.”

Nutrition senior Jessica Boisseau went straight from Davis’ rally to vote. Boisseau said Davis’ stance on education inspired her. 

“I think she is the only candidate willing and able to provide change,” Boisseau said. “I’m working three jobs. One of them is part-time military to pay for school, so her campaign is very exciting.”

According to an Abbott campaign official, Abbott, who is currently on a 25-city “Get Out The Vote” tour, has not planned a UT appearance before Election Day on Nov. 4. Early voting continues until Friday.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley takes a selfie with the University Democrats in front of the Littlefield Fountain on Thursday afternoon. O’Malley was in Austin to support State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth for Texas governor.

Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley spoke to University Democrats on Thursday afternoon in front of Littlefield Fountain before the group block walked through West Campus in support of State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. 

Speaking to the group, O’Malley talked about the importance of student participation in the election and why Davis is his favored pick in the Texas gubernatorial race.

O’Malley, who has previously served as Baltimore mayor and is considering running for president in 2016, said he appreciated the group’s efforts to bring students together through the block walk, where club members walked through the neighborhood to talk with residents about voting. 

“In my first race, I ran for state senate at the age of 27,” O’Malley said. “I lost by 22 votes. As you’re knocking on doors and flushing people to do early vote, know that sometimes these things are as close at 22 votes. Every person makes a difference.”

According to O’Malley, students should favor Davis because of her views on college tuition and future economic development.

“In this choice for governor, you have a woman who believes that making college more affordable for the greatest number of people is good for our economy, and then you have the other fellow that wants to treat it like a toll road,” O’Malley said. “I think that one issue demonstrates a difference in philosophy. Wendy believes we’re in this all together, [and that] we need each other, and that the better educated our people, the more successful our economy.”  

Katie Adams, University Democrats communication director and mechanical engineering senior, said online polls don’t reflect the election’s outcome. 

“I really do think that on Election Day, Texans are going to turn out to the polls in numbers that we haven’t seen before, and when a Democrat does get elected governor in the state, it’s going to be because of non-likely voters [and] voters who didn’t vote in 2010,” Adams said. “Polls don’t necessarily reflect what we’ve been seeing on the ground.”

Max Patterson, University Democrats president and history senior, said early voting — which continues through Oct. 31 — is the most convenient way to vote.

“Early voting is one of the easiest things you can do,” Patterson said. “There’s no lines and you can go in the [Flawn Academic Center]. Voting is the easiest way in participating in our democracy — it’s raising your hand and saying that you have a voice, and that’s because your vote is your voice, and if you silence yourself then no one should care to listen to you. It’s all about getting out to vote.”