Cecile Richards organizes for Hillary in Austin, says Texas could be viable for Democrats

Sarah Philips

The Hillary for Texas campaign hosted Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards, for an organizing and phone banking event in Austin on Friday.

The event came on the heels of heightened talk about Democratic involvement in the normally solid-red state of Texas as the national Democratic party opened official offices in Houston, and Anne Holton, wife of vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, visited Dallas.

During the event, Richards visited with campaign volunteers and made phone calls to voters.

“I’ve now been in more than 20 states for Hillary, and the excitement and the enthusiasm is amazing, but there’s nothing better than being in your hometown,” Richards said. “Many people I’ve talked to here have been a supporter of her for years. For them, this is huge. It’s a day they never knew would come.”

Margot Clarke, a volunteer for over 30 years and a longtime Clinton supporter, was a Clinton volunteer in 2008 when she lost the Democratic primary to President Barack Obama.

“It’s the most consequential election of my lifetime,” Clarke said. “I’m thrilled to help her be elected president, but it’s not just any woman. She knows what’s she’s doing and she’s been working for progressive causes her whole life. It’s just a no-brainer.”

Clarke, who volunteered every day in February before the Democratic primary this year, said her mission is to turn out people in Travis County to the polls. 

“I know there are thousands of people in this area who support Hillary,” Clarke said. “It’s our job to remind them how important this election is and get them to vote.”

Ashton Willnow, public relations and political communications senior, is the communications intern for the Travis County Democratic Party. She originally worked for Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) through his campaign academy.

Willnow said while this is the first presidential election she was allowed to vote in, she’s supported Hillary since 2008. 

“If I could have voted for her back then, I would have,” Willnow said. “I had my Hillary shirts in seventh grade. I’ve always supported her, but the time has finally come.”

When asked about recent attention to Texas from the Democratic presidential ticket, Richards cited the work of Texas campaigners as the reason.

“It’s a sign of the energy and enthusiasm in Texas around the election,” Richards said. “Texas Democrats are alive and well and kicking and organizing, so the attention the Clinton campaign is paying to Texas is huge.”

A Washington Post/Survey Monkey poll recently showed Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump were tied in Texas in a four-way race with Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party’s Jill Stein. Richards, whose mother was the last Democrat to be elected governor in 1990, said she believes Texas could be viable for the Democratic Party.  

“Anything could happen,” Richards said. “I remember a day when my mother was elected governor of the state of Texas. We just have to get more people engaged and registered and out to vote. There’s a lot of work to do, but it tells me there are voters here to change the direction of this state.”

The Hillary for Texas state director will be visiting campus at the University Democrats meeting on Wednesday. Tim Kaine, the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic party, will be coming to Texas for a series of fundraisers at the end of September.