AUSTIN, May 26 – Holding up framed poll tax receipts he said his father had to pay for to cast a vote, state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond on Tuesday told House members he would continue to fight the controversial voter ID bill for the fifth consecutive day.
The Laredo Democrat delivered a personal privilege address to House members and delivered an emotional account of traveling to Memphis, Tenn. as a child to see the hotel room where Martin Luther King Jr. spent his final night. Dr. King, said Raymond, was his ultimate inspiration.
I would never ask anyone, not one of you, to betray the people you believe you represent. Don’t ask me to betray mine.”
“How appropriate, it seems to me, that the day that I felt I had to get up and clarify what I am doing and what I will continue to do was the day that a Hispanic woman – because of Dr. King’s work – that a Hispanic woman was named to the Supreme Court today,” said Raymond.
On Tuesday President Barack Obama announced his nomination to the country’s highest court of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who is of Puerto
Rican descent and the first Latina nominated.
“He (King) stood up for us, not just blacks, not just African Americans not just Hispanics, no, but for poor whites and for everybody,” said Raymond, pausing to regain his composure after fighting back tears.
“That’s what he did and because of that today an African American named Barack Obama appointed a Latina named Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, because he (King) stood up. Not because it was for Democrats and not because it was for Republicans, but because it was for Americans and so we would have a right, all of us, to enjoy the greatness of this country.”
Raymond’s remarks came at the beginning of the day that could witness the death of the voter ID bill through a delay-tactic called clubbing, where members debate minor bills in an effort to stall bills. Tuesday midnight is the deadline for the bill to be considered for final passage and it sits behind dozens of several minor bills Democrats are intent on talking to near-death.
Republicans have decried the measure as a stalling tactic that also threatens several other pieces of legislation, filed by Democrats and Republicans, and on Monday night tensions could be seen bubbling very close to the surface. Small groups of Democrats huddled in various places on the House floor to discuss strategy, only to have a colleague or two storm off after learning Democrats seemed intent on the practice.
Raymond reiterated he would not relent, however, as what he calls the “voter suppression” bill is something he would fight until the session’s end, if necessary.
“I can’t ask you to feel what I feel but its important to me because I have always tried to respect every member of this chamber that I have served with,” he said. ”I have tried to respect the differences I have and I want you to respect my differences. I would never ask anyone, not one of you, to betray the people you believe you represent. Don’t ask me to betray mine. Don’t ask me to betray my beliefs because I would never do that to you.”
Raymond said he hoped his colleagues would join him at the back microphone, where Democrats have taken turns for five days asking questions on bills to stall the voter ID measure. But, he said, he would stand there alone if he needed to.
After the fourth bill came to the floor, Raymond stood alone at the podium and continued to stall.