New Democratic organizing group Ground Game Texas makes marijuana legalization a key focus

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A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found that 60% of Texas' registered voters are in favor of legalizing some amount of pot for any use. - UNSPLASH / SHARON MCCUTCHEAON
  • UnSplash / Sharon McCutcheaon
  • A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found that 60% of Texas' registered voters are in favor of legalizing some amount of pot for any use.

A fledgling coalition led by two former Democratic congressional candidates is putting pot at the center of its goal of running year-round organizing campaigns in Texas for progressive issues.

Ground Game Texas, headed by congressional contenders Julie Oliver and Mike Siegel, is looking to get cannabis reform measures on local ballots across the state, the Texas Tribune reports. While pot isn't the group's sole focus, it's significant enough to earn a spot in its “workers, wages and weed” slogan.

“There’s no off years and there’s no off cycles, and folks need to stay engaged year-round,” Siegel said in an interview with the Tribune. He added that the group hopes to better engage Democratic activists in local and off-year races.

Key to that are issues such as marijuana legalization and raising the minimum wage, both popular with voters but unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature. A February University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found that 60% of Texas' registered voters are in favor of legalizing some amount of pot for any use.

Siegel — who ran 2018 and 2020 campaigns against Austin Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul — told the Tribune he's already had talks about local ballot initiatives in 10 cities, including Mission, Bedford and Elgin. Decriminalizing weed is among the top ideas, he added.

While kickstarting year-round organizing campaigns in a state as large as Texas will be tricky, Ground Game Texas starts with a leg up in the form of a $1 million investment from Register2Vote, a national nonprofit Oliver and Siegel are already involved in, according to the Tribune. What's more, prominent Texas progressives Julián Castro, Wendy Davis and Beto O’Rourke have already given the new group their endorsements.

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