Panty hose and Texas mamas.
Those were two symbols Democrats used on Friday to explain why it’s important for women to realize that 2014 is their best chance in many years to put members of their own gender — as well as of their own party — in a position to guide this state.
“It’s not just a man’s world,” state Sen. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, told hundreds of delegates gathered for a woman’s caucus. “It’s a woman’s world too.
“It is your time, ladies.”
Of course the two women at the top of the ticket — state Sens. Wendy Davis, who hopes to become Texas’ next governor, and Leticia Van de Putte, who hopes to be the state’s next lieutenant governor — garnered the most attention on the first day of their party’s state convention that was expected to draw as many as 8,000 delegates, alternates and guests to Dallas.
But Texas Democratic leaders hammered home the message that it goes far beyond those on the top of the ticket.
They said women need to run for office, campaign for others in office and, most importantly, get themselves and others to the polls in November.
Van de Putte, of San Antonio, used the story of snagged panty hose to show why it’s important to get women in office.
Most Texas women know that one way to stop a run in their hose, to make them last one more day, possibly just until payday, is to use clear fingernail polish.
And sons throughout the state will remember when their moms, who likely were paid less than their male counterparts, had to stretch their dollars that way. When those boys grow up, they’ll want to do their part to make sure women are paid the same as men for doing the same job — a key Democratic initiative.
“You are the heart of the Democratic Party,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa told the women’s caucus. “In fact, you are the Democratic Party.”
More than that, he said that “we are all the products of Texas women.”
Davis, of Fort Worth, told female — and male — delegates that they “are a force to be reckoned with.”
“We are going to do some reckoning in November, aren’t we?”
Ready for Hillary?
Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Green of Houston drew perhaps the loudest, longest cheer in caucuses Friday with one sentence:
“It’s time to elect a woman president,” he said.
That was music to many people’s ears, particularly those who have been involved in the Ready for Hillary grassroots movement to support Hillary Clinton’s anticipated 2016 presidential bid.
In 2008, Clinton fought hard for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, battling with Barack Obama in state after state. For a time, the primary was so close that many thought it could come down to the party’s superdelegates.
Texas will long be remembered for giving Clinton the popular vote in the 2008 Democratic primary but awarding Obama more delegates in the caucus process, through an unusual way of choosing presidential delegates.
Now it’s Clinton’s turn, some say.
“She is the best qualified person to attempt to become president,” said Harriet Irby, a longtime Democratic activist from Pantego, who is among those helping to run a Ready for Hillary booth at the convention. “I think this country is ready for a female president.
“Other countries have had female presidents,” she said. “The precedent has been set. The United States just needs to get with the program.”
And with each year, she and others say, enthusiasm and acceptance of the possibility of having a female president grow.
Supporters of the movement say they want Clinton — the former first lady, senator and secretary of state — to go into the race with an army of supporters lined up and prepared to fight for her.
“The wave is building,” Irby said. “It’s happening.
“The change is coming.”
‘Chance of our lifetime’
Before voters can focus on the 2016 presidential race, though, they must focus on candidates up and down Texas’ 2014 ballot.
Especially in Tarrant County, said Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairwoman Deborah Peoples, who has worked to get more Democrats on the ballot.
Tarrant County “has the current shame of being the last urban area in Texas to be red,” Peoples said. “But that’s not going to be the case for long.
“We care about turning Tarrant County blue.”