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Spotlight on: Eric Norman, Democrat running for Texas House District 44

We’ve been talking all year about the extremist Republicans who are forcing public education supporters out of their own party. They've won primaries and runoffs, and Greg Abbott now touts he has the “two more votes” he needs to pass vouchers.


Gov. Abbott shouldn’t be confident in those two more votes. Blue Horizon is working with dozens of Democratic candidates running for Texas House who are standing with public schools and our kids and against vouchers. In even the reddest of districts, they report that Republicans are seeking them out to talk about public education.


Today, we want you to know why we have hope and who we think will save public education in Texas. Democrats only need to pick up three seats in the Texas House to block Abbott’s scam, again. Over the next several weeks, we’ll introduce you to some of the candidates working hard to make this happen.

Last month we had the opportunity to chat for a while with Texas Democrat Eric Norman and wanted to share some of his thoughts on his election for a seat in the state legislature. 


“I want people to see this guy cares about our community and then say, oh, by the way, did you know that he's running for office? Because that authenticity is important to me.”

Eric got involved in his community long before he ever considered running for office. In a community where large numbers of residents commute by bike but often don’t have the money to buy or repair them, he co-founded a nonprofit community bike shop—Community Cycles Seguin—to provide low or no-cost bikes and pay-what-you-can repairs. And he’s helped out in his community in all kinds of other ways too—from advocating for the majority Hispanic community with LULAC, to supporting local business owners through the Downtown Business Alliance, to helping the City of Seguin get the community vaccinated when the shot first became available.


Eric explains that, though his community work, he saw firsthand how people in his community were struggling:


“I would start to personally get to know people who are struggling and, hearing their stories, a lot of times they were people with jobs, with careers, with a house, with a family to take care of. Then one thing would happen, and the dominoes would start falling.”

Whether it was an accident at work, healthcare costs that insurance didn’t cover, or an unexpected car repair, there wasn’t enough money. Eric saw this happen time and again, as people ended up losing their jobs, going through bankruptcy, or living in cars—with no help coming from our state government. And he decided to run so that he could do something to change this:


“It wouldn’t take much to make a huge impact in their lives, but there just seems to be very little motivation to do it. It just frustrated me at an existential level that this is happening in our society in 2024 and that it’s just overlooked by so many people. I thought it was unacceptable, so I wanted to work at a level where I could do something more.”

One of the ways that Eric wants to make a difference in public education. The current representative for District 44, John Kuempel, was one of the anti-voucher candidates targeted by Greg Abbott. And sure enough, anti-education challenger Alan Schoolcraft defeated Kuempel in the Republican primary runoff last month. So the voters have a clear choice in November whether to keep public money in public schools or to siphon it off to private ones.


Eric knows something about the importance of education. As the child of first-generation college graduates, and the husband of one, he knows:


“There’s nothing more essential than an educated future workforce to give people options for life. For me, education is not about getting rich. It's not about a job. It’s about having choices.”

It’s not just education where Eric believes he can make a difference. He’s also committed to restoring women’s reproductive rights—making sure that women don’t have to leave Texas if they face complications that put their health at risk, or if they’ve become pregnant through rape or incest. And he’s not buying the myth that there’s nothing to be done:


"Acting like there's nothing we can do is just cruel. So I felt a responsibility to change that."

Eric is convinced that there is enough Democratic support in District 44 to flip the seat blue, particularly among the large numbers of factory workers there—Seguin has the highest percentage of manufacturing jobs of any city in Texas. The problem, as he sees it, isn’t the lack of Democratic voters, but that they’ve given up hope of anything ever changing. That is a problem he plans to address in his campaign:


“Because of gerrymandering and voter suppression, the people who are most affected—and should be our voters—just don’t see a point in voting. So I need to do a good job at showing them what we can do for them—what our party can do for them and has done for working families.”

That’s where his strong background in the community comes in—because people have seen him working in the community and know that he will be just as committed to helping after he is elected. And as a bilingual Mexican-American, he’s able to effectively reach people in this majority-Hispanic district. It’s those direct connections—meeting voters, canvassing, block walking, FaceTime calls, and everything else—that he believes can persuade non-voters to become voters:


“As Democrats, we just feel like we've been pushed too far. For a while it was just something we accepted, but now it's getting to the point where we feel the need to push back. We've been doing a better job of organizing in the county and getting out there and just humanizing what it is to be a Democrat rather than just putting out billboards that say, you know, we care.”

 

We are proud to support Eric’s efforts to reach the people in his community and grateful to have had the opportunity to share our insights, training, and candidate community with him as a first-time candidate. And Eric is convinced that has made a difference:


“I would say there’s two dimensions of what Blue Horizon Texas provides. One is the actual technical skills—this is how you fill out campaign finance reports, these are the deadlines, you cannot miss this. But then the soft portion of it is the kinship of being with other people who are in the same boat that you are in—just talking with like-minded people who are struggling through the same things that you are and know what it’s like. There’s almost equal importance and value in both of those services that they provide.”

We’re grateful to Eric for his kind words, and we’re grateful to you for supporting us as we continue to provide this sort of help to candidates like Eric across Texas. In addition to our proven candidate training programs, we’re looking forward to investing in race’s like Eric’s with voter outreach programs to let voters know they have a choice this November.


We'll let you know about another one of our Blue Horizon candidates in the next “Candidate Spotlight” email. Until then, we hope you will take the opportunity to contribute and help us continue to make a difference for all of the candidates who—like Eric—are committed to making a difference in their communities.



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