Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
April 16, 2009
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Ellis Calls on Governor Perry to Clarify Secession Remarks

(Austin) — Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today called on Governor Rick Perry to clarify his remarks about Texas seceding from the union.

Yesterday, Governor Perry left the door open when discussing secession:

"Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that.

"My hope is that America, and Washington in particular, pays attention. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?"

"There are some issues that simply should not be legitimated in any way, shape or form, and secession is one of them," said Ellis. "By not rejecting out of hand the possibility of secession, Governor Perry is taking a step down a very dangerous and divisive path encouraged by the fringe of Texas politics.

"It was only 12 years ago that Texas had a deadly stand-off with those urging secession. Governor Bush stood up to those fringe elements. I urge Governor Perry to ramp down the rhetoric and state unequivocally – as Governor Bush did in the 1990s – that secession is not only not an option, it isn't going to be part of the political discussion.

"In the last week, we've seen an extremely troubling escalation of rhetoric," said Ellis. "Talking about state's rights, the oppressive hand of the federal government and secession brings up some pretty bad memories in this state. It was not all that long ago that those were the exact words used by those who opposed desegregation and the civil rights movement. The top elected official in the second largest state with our history simply cannot be so loose with his comments. He's not a radio or cable TV talk show host.

"The timing and focus of this talk doesn't make much sense," said Ellis. "Since 2001, the Texas budget has increased by 62 percent. The budget we are now working on includes $65 billion from the federal government. We didnít hear about the oppressive hand of the federal government when we asked for hurricane and wildfire relief, and we didn't hear these complaints when we took money for transportation and education and health care. We didn't hear about it for eight years of exploding federal budget deficits, so why now?

"I understand that the governor has a difficult political race on his hands, but that is no excuse to whip up this type of frenzy among people who are already worried about keeping their job or a roof over their heads," said Ellis.