VOTERS GUIDE

LEFT UP TO US formed in the spring of 2016 when local volunteers for the

Bernie Sanders campaign organized to promote progressive change in the Austin
area. We are answering the call for a political revolution by engaging and educating the community, collaborating with other local activist groups, and advocating
for local candidates and issues. It is in the spirit of this mission that we have put
together this guide for you.

Our positions are guided by the Left Up To US Platform, which you can view at
leftuptous.org/platform. We officially endorse candidates in eleven races; these endorsements are the result of a democratic vote among our members. For races in
which we make no official endorsement, we provide information about the candidates that we believe will be useful to progressive voters.
We would love to cover everything that will be on every Austinite’s 2016 general
election ballot, but as a new organization we don’t (yet!) have the resources for
such an endeavor. What we do have here is the culmination of our research on
twenty-five Austin-area races and the city’s one ballot proposition, along with a
nuanced take on the presidential race (spoiler: we don’t endorse Gary Johnson).
To see which races will be on your ballot, go to
http://www.votetravis.com/vexpress/display.do and enter your name and date of
birth. For information on early voting and Election Day polling locations and
hours, go to http://traviscountyclerk.org/eclerk/Content.do?code=E.4

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taining citizen ownership of our utility companies.
He wants the city to work harder to represent people who can’t afford to lobby for their own issues,
and he believes that city staff should represent
Austin’s diversity. He supports family-supporting wages for city employees and subcontractors,
addressing economic inequality and segregation,
and combining land-use planning with traffic
planning. Don Zimmerman, on the other hand, is
a climate-change denier who believes that Austin
should not have a climate plan. He told a group of
Latino/a children advocating for after-school programs to “do something useful and produce something in your society so you don’t have to live off
others,” responded to last year’s marriage equality
ruling by comparing gay people to pedophiles, opposes living wage legislation and all legislation to
increase the minimum wage, opposes subsidized
housing, and sued the city to oppose its campaign
finance laws.

ELECTIONS

for local office
City Council
District 2
Incumbent: Delia Garza
Challengers: Casey Ramos, Wesley Faulkner
Left Up To US endorses Delia Garza. Garza has
spent her term in office advocating for real policy
solutions to increase access to affordable housing.
She has been a tireless advocate for equality and
fairness for the disadvantaged. She demonstrated
integrity early on when hers was one of only two
“no” votes on a measure to divert city funds to
the staff of the mayor and city council; she vocally
pointed out that other city departments needed
the money and then donated her own office’s budget surplus to the library system.

District 7
Incumbent: Leslie Pool
Challenger: Natalie Gauldin

District 4
Incumbent: Greg Casar
Challengers: Louis Herrin, Gonzalo Camacho

Leslie Pool and Natalie Gauldin have similar
positions on many issues; an exception is Gauldin’s greater support for bike lane development,
particularly along Shoal Creek Boulevard, which
Pool voted against. Pool sponsored and passed the
Austin Community Climate Plan, which sets a local goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050;
helped get Austin Energy to increase its investment in solar power; and supported living wages
for City contract employees. Natalie Gauldin supports the transportation bond, shutting down the
Fayette coal plant as quickly as possible to promote
climate justice, increasing access to public transit
and improving sidewalks and bike lanes, and reducing regulations on accessory dwelling units and
minimum lot sizes to promote density.

Left Up To US endorses Greg Casar. Along with
Delia Garza, Casar is widely considered one of the
most progressive members of Austin City Council. He has been a steadfast advocate for workers’
rights, criminal justice reform, and affordable
housing. Recently he was the lead sponsor of the
"fair chance" ordinance, which places strict limits
on large businesses’ ability to deny employment
solely due to the results of criminal background
checks.
District 6
Incumbent: Don Zimmerman
Challenger: Jimmy Flannigan
Left Up To US endorses Jimmy Flannigan. Extremely knowledgeable about the workings of
Austin city government, Flannigan brings to the
table progressive policy ideas such as ending the
practice of direct corporate tax incentives and re-

District 10
Incumbent: Sherri Gallo
Challengers: Alison Alter, Nicholas Virden, Robert
Walker
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Alison Alter seems to be the most progressive of
the four candidates: she supports creating more
parks, green space, and affordable housing and has
earned the endorsements of a variety of Democratic, workers’, and environmental organizations.
Sherri Gallo is a fiscal conservative who supports
reducing city spending and the size of the city government. She supports expanding and improving
roads and lowering property taxes, and she backed
the Grove at Shoal Creek development. Robert
Walker supports reducing spending and property
taxes. He sided with Uber and Lyft in May’s transportation proposition, and he opposes the current
transportation bond. Nicholas Virden is a recent
UT grad who led the libertarian student group
Young Americans for Liberty; he supports lowering property taxes and deregulating short-term
rentals and transportation network companies
such as Uber and Lyft.

Ballot

proposition
Proposition 1 (Mobility Bond)
While Austin desperately needs serious investment in transportation infrastructure to keep
up with our rapid population growth, this mobility bond leaves much to be desired. Its most
glaring flaw is that in a supposedly progressive
city with notoriously subpar public transportation for our size, this bond includes not a dime
for public transportation. The bond also seems
likely to speed up gentrification: its increase in
property taxes would exacerbate already rising
rents, and a good portion of the bond money is
targeted for “beautification,” which can also increase property values, benefiting landowners
but pricing out the disadvantaged. The process
behind the proposal also warrants suspicion:
it was put together and rushed through city
council at more than twice the speed of most
bond proposals, despite being the largest bond
measure in our city’s history at $720 million,
and $380,000 of the $663,000 raised by Austin Forward, the political action committee
supporting the proposition, has come from
companies or individuals involved in road and
sidewalk construction or real estate development. On the positive side, the bond would
make the city more bikeable, and there is an
argument to be made that anything is better
than nothing when it comes to transportation
infrastructure.

ACC Board
Place 9
Incumbent: N/A
Candidates: Julie Ann Nitsch, Guadalupe Sosa,
Mitch Fuller, Jeremy Story
Left Up To US endorses Julie Ann Nitsch. Nitsch
is the only candidate for office in Austin who is
supported by Our Revolution, Bernie Sanders’s
grassroots organization designed to elect “Berniecrat” candidates to state and local offices; she has
also earned endorsements from the Austin Central
Labor Council and the American Federation of
Teachers. She has been a member of the Austin
City Council’s Committee on the Quality of Life
for College Students and serves on the Subcommittee on Transportation. As an ACC board member, she will fight for student services and workers’
rights, including affordable health care and health
education for students, health care benefits and a
living wage for employees, affordable child care for
both students and employees, and improved public
transportation to all ACC campuses.

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Holmes wants to create a groundwater conservation district in unprotected areas of the county.
Finally, he wants to increase transparency so that
residents know where their county taxes are going.
Gerald Dougherty (R) is moderate for a modern
Republican, though on his website he does brag
about leading the effort to defeat Austin’s 2014
light rail initiative.

ELECTIONS

for county office
County Commissioner
Precinct 1
Incumbent: N/A
Candidates: Jeff Travillion (D), Pat McCord (R),
Ashely “Flashe” Gordon (G)

Sheriff

Left Up To US endorses
Ashely “Flashe” Gordon (G). Gordon has been
very active in the community and is particularly
knowledgeable about issues relevant to Precinct 1.
She advocates for increasing environmental studies to assess the impact of development; increasing
sustainable food options, especially in disadvantaged communities; controlling and modifying
transportation options to reduce our carbon
footprint; offering free basic money management
classes; closing detention centers for undocumented persons; offering support services for transient
populations; increasing community leadership
opportunities for youth; and providing dual- and
triple-language education.

Incumbent: N/A
Candidates: Sally Hernandez (D), Joe Martinez
(R), Debbie Russell (G), Eric Guerra (L)

Sally Hernandez (D) states that she wants to lower
the number of undocumented immigrants deported from Travis County by redefining the county’s
relationship with ICE (Immigration and Customs
Enforcement).She believes that we have essentially
criminalized mental illness by providing inadequate support structures and wants to remedy
this crisis. She wants to end the school-to-prison
pipeline, establish a Community Policing Advisory Committee, and increase Crisis Intervention
Training; she also has a history of engaging with
Precinct 3
and listening to citizen advocacy organizations.
Incumbent: Gerald Daugherty (R)
Debbie Russell (G), who has a history of activChallenger: David Holmes (D)
ism in Travis County, believes that there should
be zero jail time for all nonviolent offenders and
Left Up To US endorses David Holmes (D).
has worked for years to end the school-to-prison
We’re endorsing Holmes in this closely contested
pipeline. Though knowledgeable about matters rerace because he understands that addressing Aus- lating to law enforcement policy, she has no formal
tin’s affordability issues will require more than just experience in law enforcement. Russell originally
cutting property taxes; as he says, essential services submitted her name with the understanding that
must be funded to avoid the inefficiencies and inshe would be replaced on the ballot with another
justices that make Travis County unaffordable for
Green Party candidate, but no replacement was
disadvantaged communities. Instead of just profound. Very little information is available about
viding tax incentives for new companies to move
Libertarian candidate Eric Guerra, and he does
to Travis County, he wants to provide incentives
not have a page on the Libertarian Party for Texto companies who take innovative approaches to
as website. Joe Martinez (R), unlike Russell and
keeping their employees out of rush-hour traffic.
Hernandez, wants to continue detaining undocUnder current policy, corporations can buy land at umented immigrants, even for minor offenses, to
any time and drain western Travis County of the
facilitate their deportation.
water its residents need; to prevent such action,
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District Attorney
Incumbent: N/A
Candidates: Margaret Moore (D), Maura Phelan
(R)
Margaret Moore (D) wants to enact policies that
specifically address the disparate treatment of
minorities in the criminal justice system, explore
appointing special prosecutors to cases in which
police conduct results in the death of a citizen,
restore the funding and authority of the Public
Integrity Unit, prosecute polluters, and reduce
over-incarceration. Maura Phelan (R) wants to
reduce the number of defendants held in jail on insufficient cases, establish a sexual assault unit and
assign a victim/witness counselor to each sexual
assault case, and increase staffing for family abuse,
juvenile, and mental health cases.

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ELECTIONS

District 47
Incumbent: Paul Workman (R)
Challengers: Ana Jordan (D), Scott McKinlay (L)

for state office
State Senate

Left Up To US endorses Ana Jordan (D). Jordan’s
strong campaign to raise awareness of the damDistrict 24
aging effects of gerrymandering on democracy
Incumbent: N/A
caught our eye early on. She advocates amending
Candidates: Virginia Leeder (D), Dawn Buckingthe constitution to prohibit partisan redistrictham (R)
ing and to exclude money from the definition of
“speech” in the First Amendment, and she has the
Dawn Buckingham (R) is vehemently anti-aborexpertise necessary to understand how to accomtion and anti-immigrant. She believes that aborplish these goals. She favors automatic, online,
tion should only be allowed when absolutely
medically necessary. She supports using the Texas same-day voter registration and making Election
National Guard to seal the border and “ridding our Day a state holiday. She also supports drastically
increasing Texas public school funding and makes
state of sanctuary cities.” Virginia Leeder (D) is a
fairly moderate Democrat with a mix of pro-busi- a convincing case for her view that the current
state legislature’s cuts to the education budget have
ness and progressive views. She is “unequivocally
violated the state constitution and the state educapro–second amendment.” While Virginia Leeder
is something of a mixed bag, Dawn Buckingham is tion code.
clearly unacceptable for State Senate District 24.
District 48
Incumbent: Donna Howard (D)
Challenger: Ben Easton (L)

State Legislature
District 46
Incumbent: Dawnna Dukes (D)
Challengers: Gabriel Nila (R), Kevin Ludlow (L),
Adam Greeley (G)

It’s difficult to find out Donna Howard’s (D)
positions on public issues, not least because the
“policies” section of her website is still under construction. Her Facebook page, however, gives the
impression of a representative who cares particuThe announcement that Dawnna Dukes (D) will
larly about education and youth, including fundbe retiring in January but is still on the ballot and
ing public schools, serving at-risk children, makfavored to win makes this race something of an
ing college affordable, and protecting the rights
anomaly. Dawnna Dukes is under investigation
of transgender students; she also opposed Texas’s
by the district attorney for misappropriating state
campus carry law. She has also supported electoral
funds and takes more corporate money than any
reform measures that would make it easier for new
other Democrat we’ve researched. However, her
parties and Independents to get and stay on the
impending retirement means that if she wins,
ballot. Ben Easton (L) favors the gradual eliminaDistrict 46 voters will have the opportunity to elect tion of the state’s public school system in favor of
someone better in a special election early next
complete privatization and otherwise advocates
year. Some of our members believe that we have
limiting all facets of government.
that opportunity already in Green Party activist for
people with disabilities, Adam Greeley.
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District 49
Incumbent: N/A
Candidates: Gina Hinojosa (D), Rick Perkins (L)

single-payer health care and a guaranteed basic
income to enable active citizenship and reduce
welfare bureaucracy. She supports strong worker
protection, environmental protection, and guaranteed housing and health care for all.

AISD trustee Gina Hinojosa (D) supports improving funding for public education, protecting reproductive rights, allowing public universities to opt
out of campus carry laws, and increasing funding
State Board of Education
for mental health care. Rick Perkins (L) supports
reducing property taxes, promoting sustainable
District 5
development, and treating minor drug offenses
Incumbent: Ken Mercer (R)
with rehabilitation rather than incarceration.
Challengers: Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D), Ricardo
Perkins (L)
District 50
Incumbent: Celia Israel (D)
Challenger: Ceasar Ruiz (R)

Left Up To US endorses Rebecca Bell-Metereau
(D). Bell-Metereau is a professor of English at
Texas State University, where she has taught for
more than thirty years. She supports consulting
Celia Israel (D) is a vocal advocate for government the best scholarly and pedagogical experts in each
investment in public transportation, education, re- field, immediately abolishing the STAAR test,
newable energy, and health care. She has called out freezing and gradually reducing the number of
Governor Perry on his rejection of federal funds
charter schools, and fighting to ensure that what
for health care as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Texas children are taught is based on facts, science,
She wants to improve the cost efficiency of renew- and proven teaching methods. Ken Mercer (R)
able energy, restore funding for public education,
has been a leader in the effort to inject right-wing,
and protect all citizens’ voting rights. Ceasar Ruiz
extremist views into public school curriculums:
(R) is firmly anti-abortion, believes in minimizing he has fought to whitewash American history
regulations and taxes on businesses, and highlights while fighting against basic fact-checking and the
the second amendment as one of his core beliefs.
teaching of evolution. To quote Mary Tuma of the
On the positive side, he appears to oppose our
Austin Chronicle, “Austin voters have the option
current over-emphasis on high-stakes testing and
this November to choose between a Fulbright
support improving benefits for teachers.
scholarship recipient and English professor, or a
man who once compared advocates of evolution
science to Nazis and slave traders, to lead their
District 51
children’s future on education” (“Texas State Board
Incumbent: Eddie Rodriguez (D)
of Education,” Aug. 26, 2016).
Challenger: Kat Gruene (G)
Left Up To US endorses Kat Gruene (G). Gruene
has been an electoral activist for fifteen years and
has focused particularly on making the democratic
process more democratic: she supports removing restrictions that hinder third parties, paying
elected officials, publicly financing campaigns, and
enacting online voter registration. In addition to
electoral reform, her policy agenda emphasizes

District 10
Incumbent: Tom Maynard (R)
Challenger: Judy Jennings (D)

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Unlike Mercer and other right-wing ideologues
on the SBOE, Tom Maynard (R) has a background
as a teacher and voted for fact-checking the state’s
textbooks (his Republican colleagues defeated that

the race. However, he believes that citizens should
not use government to address climate change,
saying that ”considering uncertainties in future
predictions and the high economic cost, addressing whatever warming of the earth occurs is best
dealt with through adaptive measures by future
generations,” and this position makes him absolutely unacceptable in our eyes. Martina Salinas,
on the other hand, became a candidate because of
her opposition to fracking and is the only strong
voice for regulating oil and gas to the degree that
we believe necessary. She has also spent the last
decade in the construction inspection field, which
qualifies her to oversee this regulatory agency.

plan anyway). However, he supports posting the
Ten Commandments in all schools and believes
that the theory of evolution has “strengths and
weaknesses.” He supports local control of schools,
fiscal conservatism, and existing high-stakes standardized testing. Judy Jennings (D) is an expert in
educational policy and educational psychology;
her work focuses on understanding how children
learn. She wants to update teaching methods to accord with what research shows works for students
with different learning styles; in particular, she
advocates project-based learning as a pushback
against the overemphasis on high-stakes testing.
She wants to invite input from and advocate for
teachers, and she thinks that curriculums should
be based on the findings of experts rather than the
opinions of ideologues.

Railroad Commission
Incumbent: N/A
Candidates: Grady Yarbrough (D), Wayne Christian (R), Mark Miller (L), Martina Salinas (G)
Left Up To US endorses Martina Salinas (G).
Before we get into why we’re endorsing Salinas
over the other candidates, the most important
thing that all Texas voters should know about the
Railroad Commission is that it DOES NOT REGULATE RAILROADS. What it does do is regulate the oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline
safety, liquid petroleum gas safety, surface coal,
and uranium mining. What an appropriate name,
right? Three of the four candidates—Yarbrough,
Miller, and Salinas—support a recommendation
to change the name to the Texas Energy Resource
Commission. Grady Yarbrough (D) seems to just
have a hobby of running for various offices, none
of which he is particularly qualified for, and has
run as a Republican in the past. Mark Miller is
the Libertarian candidate that we came closest to
endorsing this year; he has relatively reasonable
views by the standards of a Libertarian, literally
wrote the book on the Texas Railroad Commission, and is the most knowledgeable candidate in

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ELECTIONS

for national office

District 21

U.S. House

Incumbent: Lamar Smith (R)
Challengers: Tom Wakely (D), Mark Loewe (L),
Antonio Diaz (G)

District 10
Incumbent: Michael McCaul (R)
Challengers: Tawana Cadien (D), Bill Kelsey (L)

Left Up To US endorses Tom Wakely (D). One
of the few area Democrats who publicly endorsed
Bernie Sanders early in the primaries, Wakely is
The issues page on Tawana Cadien’s (D) website
seems to avoid taking many clear stances. She does vigilant in his support for veterans, fighting for
working families, acknowledging the real dangers
say that health care should be readily accessible
of climate change, and opposing the corrupting
to all Americans, which we like, but she doesn’t
influence of money in politics. He supports sinsay what policies she supports regarding this or
anything else. Libertarian Bill Kelsey advocates for gle-payer health care, banning gerrymandering,
amnesty for undocumented immigrants and favors overturning Citizens United, raising the cap on
disengaging the U.S. military from all conflicts and taxable income for Social Security, and expanding
Social Security benefits. We’ve liked everything
closing all U.S. bases abroad. On the other hand,
he also favors withdrawal from all military treaties we’ve heard from Green candidate Antonio Diaz,
but Wakely’s stances are too unequivocally proand abolishing the federal income tax system. Ingressive not to endorse him. Plus, the impact that
cumbent Michael McCaul (R), chair of the House
ending Lamar Smith’s (R) three-decade tenure in
Homeland Security Committee, is the second
wealthiest member of Congress. He is a strong ad- Congress would have is immeasurable. As chair
of the House Science and Technology Committee,
vocate for militarizing the the Texas-Mexico borSmith has made a name for himself actively (and
der as well as a plethora of other dangerous ideas.
successfully) working against all efforts to address
climate change in the U.S. House.
District 17
District 25

Incumbent: Bill Flores (R)
Challengers: Bill Matta (D), Clark Patterson (L)

Incumbent: Roger Williams (R)
Challengers: Kathi Thomas (D), Loren Schneiderman (L)

Left Up To US endorses Bill Matta (D). Matta is
a genuine progressive who is taking no corporate
campaign contributions in his run for Congress.
His strong progressive stances make him sound a
lot like Bernie Sanders: he opposes the TPP and
favors significantly higher taxes on the wealthy
(the top 10 percent specifically), tuition-free
college, single-payer health care, a $15 minimum
wage, publicly funded elections, paid family leave,
and abolishing private prisons. On the issues, Bill
Matta is exactly the sort of person we need to see
the Democrats nominating more often.

Roger Williams (R), who is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly using his position to benefit himself and a
car dealership he owns, identifies as a conservative
businessman and likes to tweet things like
“#BacktheBlue.” He supported Texas’s super-restrictive anti-abortion law, opposes stem-cell
research, believes that open-carry laws save lives,
endorsed Ted Cruz in the Republican primary,
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believes in supporting health insurance companies instead of Medicare, wants to privatize Social
Security, and has said, “I will support all efforts to
prevent the encroachment of ‘gay marriage.’” Loren
Schneiderman (L) identifies with libertarianism
to such a degree that where most candidates have
“Issues” pages on their websites identifying the
candidate’s various stances, Schneiderman’s site
instead has a “Beliefs” page and an “America” page,
both of which list abstract libertarian beliefs so
that visitors get a bullet-point introduction to ideology and zero information about where he stands
on issues. But, you know, small government and
ignoring unjust social structures.
Kathi Thomas (D) wants to address climate
change, rebuild infrastructure, overturn Citizens
United, rebalance the economy so that it no longer
redistributes all our wealth to those at the very top,
enact reasonable gun safety laws, phase out fossil
fuel dependence, promote a living wage, add a
public option to the Affordable Care Act, eliminate
high-stakes testing, reform our criminal justice
system, promote equal pay for equal work, and
protect voting rights, LGBT rights, and access to
abortion.

energy and education, and wants to lower taxes
and minimize government size and spending. Her
other stated priorities include improving health
care for veterans, preserving Medicare and Social
Security, and supporting local anti-poverty initiatives. Rhett Smith (L) wants to minimize U.S. military intervention and foreign aid and demilitarize
the police. Scott Trimble (G) asks that people not
vote for him or anyone else because he believes
that voting legitimizes the corruption of the political system. Instead, he requests that progressives
engage in direct action to fight structural injustice
and inequality.

District 35
Incumbent: Lloyd Doggett (D)
Challengers: Susan Narvaiz (R), Rhett Smith (L),
Scott Trimble (G)
Lloyd Doggett (D) has served in the House for
twenty-one years. He is passionate about funding research on the Zika virus, enacting common-sense gun legislation, and fighting drug
companies’ high prices. He voted against the big
bank bailouts, voted to pass the Dodd-Frank Wall
Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, led
efforts to crack down on corporate tax dodging,
and opposes cutting Medicare and Social Security.
He prioritizes public education, including efforts
to reduce the financial burden of higher education.
Susan Narvaiz (R) believes that the government is
overregulating Texans’ daily lives, particularly in
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PRESIDENT

Candidates: Hillary Clinton (D), Donald Trump (R), Jill Stein (G), Gary Johnson (L)

W

e encourage voting for the presidential candidate that you believe will best advance progressive
change.

Some Left Up To US members support Hillary Clinton (D) because (1) her positions are far friendlier to
the progressive movement than Donald Trump’s (R) are, (2) the influence of Bernie Sanders has led her
to advance the most progressive platform in Democratic Party history and has created an opportunity to
build progressive strength within the party, and/or (3) the weakness of Trump has created an opportunity to turn Texas blue for the first time since 1976.
Other members support Jill Stein (G) because (1) she has advanced by far the most progressive platform
of all the candidates, (2) the more votes the Greens get, the more likely Democrats should be to prioritize the concerns of the Left and work hard to court our votes, and/or (3) if the Green Party wins 5 percent of the national popular vote, it will qualify for millions of dollars in general election public funding
for the 2020 presidential race.
(We considered writing about Gary Johnson (L) but decided he wasn’t worth addressing, since, as
Johnson so eloquently puts it, “in billions of years, the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the
Earth, right?”)
While we believe that keeping Donald Trump and the Republican Party away from the executive branch
is crucially important, we also believe that a vote for Jill Stein in Texas will not increase Trump’s chances
of winning the presidency. Texas has consistently polled 10–15 percentage points to the right of the national average all year, making it safe to say that the only way Texas will be close to turning blue this year
is if Clinton is already winning nationally in a landslide.
Left Up To US unequivocally rejects Donald Trump and all he stands for, and we believe that electing him to office would set the work of progressives back decades. We all want to promote progressive
change, and some of us are doing that by supporting Jill Stein and some by supporting Hillary Clinton.

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