TPA TEXAN OF THE YEAR AWARD 2007
The Texas Progressive Alliance is proud to announce the House Leadership team of State Rep. Jim Dunnam, State Rep. Garnet Coleman, and State Rep. Pete Gallego as our 2007 recipients of the Texan of the Year award.
There may not be another three individuals who have done more for the resurgence of the Texas Democratic Party Democrats over the past four years. They fought through the 2006 elections, and then for the months leading up to the first day of session. They led the fight against Speaker Craddick in the final days of the session, and are now poised to add to the Democratic gains in the House as they continue their roles as Co-Chairs of the House Democratic Campaign Committee. Here are some highlights of what each of them did over the past year:
State Rep. Jim Dunnam
When we had a mere 62 members in the House in 2003. Today, there are 70, including State Rep. Kirk England who switched parties and will run as a Democrat in 2008. There was a full frontal attack on Republican Speaker Craddick's ability to lead, launched by one question by this Waco Democrat: "Mr. Speaker, what is the process of removing the Speaker of the Texas House?" His mastery of the House rules is incredible to watch.
During the 80th Regular Session, Rep. Jim Dunnam led efforts to clean up the mess Governor Perry and the Republican leadership made at the Texas Youth Commission. He worked with Rep. Coleman and Rep. Gallego to fight against expanding new tax cuts for the richest 10% of Texans at the expense of health care and education for Texas families. He will forever be remembered for the efforts he made on the House floor, challenging the absolute power of Speaker Craddick.
State Rep. Garnet Coleman
Rep. Garnet Coleman is one of the most progressive members of the Texas House. He filed over sixty pieces of legislation, including proposals to (1) end tuition deregulation, (2) overturn the ban on gay marriage, and (3) prevent the construction of any new toll roads anywhere in the state of Texas. He passed legislation to expand health care for former foster children, and to double funding for cancer research. He fought to fully restore CHIP -- which he's worked for ever since Speaker Craddick and Republican allies cut hundreds of thousands of kids off of health care since 2003.
Beyond his legislative work, Rep. Coleman is the top fundraiser for Texas Democrats, and is well-known for his non-stop efforts in supporting House Democrats across the state. He chairs the Legislative Study Group, which received a Silver Star award from the TPA for its incredible policy work.
State Rep. Pete Gallego
Rep. Pete Gallego is the chair of of the largest bipartisan legislative caucus in the Texas House -- the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. He also sits on the national board of NALEO [that's the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials --ed.] He was a top lieutenant for Speaker Pete Laney, and his credibility earned then continues make him one of the most trusted members in the Texas House.
His policy interests are far-reaching, ranging from protecting our state's natural resources to preventing those horrid voter ID bills behind the scenes. Rep. Gallego also helped temper some of the more controversial issues of the session, including immigration and security. He often makes waves quietly inside the Capitol, but his efforts help thousands of Texans from all walks of life.
Together, Rep. Gallego, Rep. Dunnam, and Rep. Coleman are extremely deserving of our 2007 Texan of the Year award.