Tom Wakely is an Air Force veteran and a former labor union organizer. For close to three decades after seminary he worked as a community organizer, primarily within the framework of the Church. Today, he and his wife take hospice patients into their home, providing palliative care until they pass. He has been fighting for economic & social justice for over forty years.
Last year Tom ran for Congress as a Progressive Democrat, an Economic Populist, against Congressman Lamar Smith, a 30-yr. Republican incumbent. While Tom lost that race his campaign accomplished three amazing things: (1) they received more votes than any candidate who had ever run against Smith; (2) they managed to drop Smith’s percentage of the vote to 56.9%, the lowest of his career; and (3) they received more votes than any Democrat in the State of Texas running against an incumbent Congressional Republican.
Look, we all know Texas is not a red state, it is a no-vote state. Take the 2014 general election, for example. Greg Abbott and his tea-party brethren came to power with only 33.7% of our state’s registered voter’s voting. Abbott took a shy over 59% of the 33.7% voting which means he received the support of just a little over 20% of the state’s registered voters. The Democratic candidate, Wendy Davis did far worse. She only received 38.9% of the 33.7% voting which means just a tad over 13% of the state’s registered voters supported her. Either way you cut-it, neither party is commanding wide-spread popular support among the people of Texas. As Shakespeare wrote in Act I, Scene 4 of Hamlet, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Could it be because all of the Democratic candidates for Governor since 1998 have been wealthy lawyers with ties to the oil and gas industry? Could it be because these wealthy candidates have more in common with the 1% than the 99%? Could it be that Texans are yearning for a return to days of FDR, Kennedy and LBJ; a return to the days of people over profit?
Texans are tired, fed up and increasingly bitter towards both major political parties. Texas has the 12th largest economy in the world yet we ranked 8th among the states in income inequality. The problems associated with this can be seen all around our state. A broken and underfunded public school system that is building an ever growing school to prison pipeline. Rising property taxes that are forcing more and more people, especially the elderly, to sell their homes. Gun violence is so prevalent today that it rarely raises our collective eyebrow until a police officer is shot and killed. State cuts to Medicaid are throwing more and more people into desperation and poverty. Crimes rates are rising and more guns are being bought.
The question now becomes, do we stick with the Texas Democratic party establishment centrist approach to winning elections or do we embrace bold progressive ideas and candidates. Can a progressive, an economic populist, a non-politician win the Texas Statehouse. We believe the answer is yes and it begins with saying, enough is enough. Our great state belongs to all of the people, just not to wealthy lawyers with ties to the oil and gas industry. Now is not the time for thinking small, it’s the time for thinking big. The same old Texas Democratic party establishment politics of running wealthy ex-Republicans whose repentance is often questionable hasn’t worked for decades. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome?
We will continue to argue that the solution to winning elections in Texas lie not in centrist candidates and centrist policies but in bold progressive candidates and in bold progressive ideas and policies. So, let’s be clear. This campaign is not about Tom Wakely, this campaign is about the working men and women of Texas and here what he has to say about that:
"Our campaign for Governor will focus on 4 main issues. (1). Income inequality. I will fight for a raise in the state minimum wage to $15 an hour along with repealing Texas’s right-to-work laws. I also want to scrap the Texas business franchise tax system in favor of a Business Income Tax. It’s way past time for Texas’ largest corporations like IBM, Wal-Mart, ATT, Toyota, Dell Computer and Exxon, to start paying their fair share of taxes. Healthcare. Texans need access to healthcare not access to health insurance. I will fight for the establishment of a statewide network of health clinics and hospitals similar in nature to the VA healthcare system that I am a part of. If you have health insurance through your employer and our happy with it - keep it. If you have health insurance through the ACA and our happy with it - keep it. For everyone else, the statewide network of health clinics and hospitals that I propose will be there for you. Gun Control. I will fight to ban the sale and possession of military-style weapons like the AK-47 and AR-15 in Texas. I will fight to repeal our state’s open-carry laws. I also support limiting the number of handguns and long guns that a person can lawfully own. In addition, we should require background checks at gun shows. Global Warming. To fight climate change I am proposing that Texas place a carbon fee on the monthly production totals of crude oil, condensate and total oil, gas well gas, casinghead gas, and total natural gas. Not only will a carbon fee raise billions of dollars annually for state aid to public schools it also has the added benefit of helping curb rising global temperatures.