AUSTIN, Texas — A new state law is the subject of yet another federal lawsuit – and Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate, stopped by KVUE to discuss her campaign.
Three things to know in Texas politics
This past legislative session, Texas lawmakers passed House Bill 1888 which requires early voting locations to be open for the entire two weeks of early voting or they can't open at all. This essentially bans mobile voting, where polling sites go to various locations.
The Texas Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit against the Secretary of State in October, arguing the law disenfranchises college students. Now, older voters say they're impacted too. U.S. Army veteran Terrell Blodgett is a plaintiff in the latest lawsuit. He lives in a senior community in Austin that was a mobile voting location until the November election. The 96-year old says because the polls couldn't come to him, he couldn't vote for the first time in years.
Staff in the Secretary of State's office said they don't comment on pending litigation.
Dec. 1 marks an important deadline for state agencies. Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to agency leaders, giving them until Dec. 1 to submit plans to his office showing how they will scale down regulations, reduce licensing fees and "where appropriate" remove barriers that prevent people with criminal records from getting occupational licenses. Gov. Abbott wrote the State should give Texans the opportunity to earn a living, free from unnecessary state intrusion.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially launched his campaign for president this week and the Democrat is spending $3 million on TV ads in Texas. The ads are already running in Austin. The billionaire is spending a total of $35 million on ads in 32 states.
Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, candidate for U.S. Senate
The presidential candidates aren't the only ones gearing up for the March primary. There are now 11 Democrats running to challenge U.S. Senator John Cornyn – including Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, the founder of Jolt, an organization dedicated to registering and mobilizing young Latinos to vote.
She sat down with Ashley Goudeau to discuss her campaign.
Ashley Goudeau: Tell our viewers a little bit about yourself and why you're running for the U.S. Senate.
Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez: "So, I am running for U.S. Senate because I want a government that belongs to and serves ordinary Texans. I've spent a decade and a half here in our state leading some of Texas' most important voting and civil rights organizations, bringing people together to solve some of our real problems that ordinary Texans go through like helping raise wages for tens of thousands of workers, make our jobs safer in our state and take on some of the crises around student debt and climate change. And, you know, I know that I also reflect and am able to get out the diversity of our state that no Democrat can win in Texas unless we are able to turn out more voters of color and young people. And no one in this field has done a better job than me at that ... My mom is the oldest of nine kids from Mexico and my dad's a white American that met her while traveling in a VW bus in Mexico in the '70s. And I grew up with this great perspective that, while there were a lot of differences in my Anglo and Mexican families, that at the end of the day every single family wants the same thing for their children, regardless of where they come from, the color of their skin, who they pray to or who they love. That we all want our children to be safe and to be healthy and to go to great schools. And that's why I'm running for U.S. Senate because I believe every single Texas family can have that and every single Texas family deserves that."
Goudeau: You have not held a public office before, so do you think it's a little ambitious to jump to the U.S. Senate?
Tzintzun Ramirez: "Well, of course in Texas, we always dream big because we are big. I haven't held elected office, but I know that people want more than anything: someone that's a fighter, that understands what they go through, that knows just how hard Texas families work. When I do become our next senator, I know who I want to go to Washington and represent. That I want to represent the working class and middle-class families that make our economy strong.
You know, while John Cornyn has been our senator for nearly two decades when he was taking millions of dollars from the construction industry, I was making $43,000 a year representing the people who built our homes, our schools and lost their lives and limbs building our state's economy. I know that in this state we work harder than most people in other states, but you wouldn't know it by looking in our pocketbooks. That John Cornyn hasn't supported raising the minimum wage, he voted against equal pay for women and voted against making it easier for workers to unionize and have better working conditions."
Goudeau: Texas leads the nation in having the most uninsured people –adults and children – in the country. And there was a new study that found one in four Texans has medical debt. What do you think we can start to do to address the lack of health care or access to health care in this country?
Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez: "You know, if I were John Cornyn, I would be embarrassed that he's been our senator for nearly two full decades and he has done so much damage and harm to have us be the highest uninsured rate in the country. Not only do I support, of course, making the Affordable Care Act stronger, but I think we need Medicare for all, especially here in Texas. That we have created a system where private insurance companies have profited off of our pain, our suffering and illness. And it's created the most expensive health care system in the world, with some of the worst outcomes of any industrialized nation. I want to make sure that we get rid of the profit margin and that every single American has the right to have the highest quality health care when they need it and be able to go to the doctor when they're sick."
Goudeau: So, when you say Medicare for all, does that mean you want to take away private insurance?
Tzintzun Ramirez: "I want to make sure that we get out of the profit motive that has caused so much damage. We have, by allowing insurance companies to be in charge of high jacking our health care, it really has resulted, especially here in Texas, for us to have the highest insurance rate in the country. As Democrats, we have an opportunity to join the rest of the industrialized world and make sure that every single person, especially in the richest nation in the world, be able to go to the doctor when they are sick."
Goudeau: So, is that yes?
Tzintzun Ramirez: "Yes, yes absolutely."
Goudeau: Sadly, one of the things we've seen as of late in Texas is mass shootings. We had the tragedy in El Paso, what happened in Odessa. What are your thoughts on how we begin to protect Texans and prevent these types of tragedies from happening?
Tzintzun Ramirez: "So, I graduated the year of the Columbine shooting. So I have been waiting my entire adult life to see Congress do very basic things that the vast majority of American support like universal background checks, ban assault-style weapons. And instead, we've been teaching kindergartners how to play dead in their classrooms. I support a ban on assault-style weapons and I support a buy-back because I believe if you support one, you must support the other. That we have asked – our politicians have been willing to put forth the interests of the NRA and the contributions of their donors versus the interest of the American lives. I want to make sure that we are actually passing policy solutions, of course, the low hanging fruit that the vast majority of Americans support. But also pushing for policy solutions that will make sure that American lives and children are safe in their schools."
Goudeau: When you say you support a buy-back, is that mandatory or voluntary?
Tzintzun Ramirez: "I think we have to support a mandatory buy-back. But we need to make sure it's a cost-effective program, it has incentives for people that will want to participate. You know, I was the best shot in my family growing up, I support the second amendment, but I want to make sure that weapons of war – that only cause mass carnage and there's already millions of these kinds of weapons in circulation – that we get them out of civilian hands so that our families and communities can be safe."
Agree or Disagree with Ashley
This week, Ashley gives tips on how to survive the holidays.
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