The Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports on a pet peeve of mine, the smug complacency of many within the ranks of Texas Democrats who are so satisfied with an abstract notion of future victory that they ignore the present. Specifically, by ignoring the need to actually run candidates for office.
The opinion article, penned by Bud Kennedy, notes that despite having a denizen of Tarrant County (Wendy Davis) at the top of the Democratic ticket, Democrats have not followed suit to make the country competitive in next year’s election. This, despite the fact that the party and outreach organizations such as Battleground Texas keep talking about how invaluable the county hosting Fort Worth will be in order for Democrats, not only to win, but to also simply make elections competitive. Not a single Democrat has signed up to run for ANY county offices, at least according to Kennedy’s column and the Tarrant County Democratic Party’s website.
While Democrats have broken through and completely taken over Dallas County, El Paso County and Travis County, as well as turned both Bexar County and Harris County into very competitive, swing districts, Tarrant County has hosted a consecutive streak of Republican victories since 1994 (much like the Statewide GOP). With the county’s demographics becoming more and more competitive, optimistic Democrats have pointed to it as an example for future Democratic victory.
But barring a last-minute challenger, the Republican District Clerk, County Clerk, County Judge and many others will cruise to re-election unopposed. As Kennedy put it so eloquently, “If Texas Democrats are counting on Tarrant County to carry them to victory next fall, they’re in trouble.” Nevermind any of the signs that 2014 will be a bad year for Democrats –all that is still too far off to make a very intelligent prediction– to borrow the old cliche, you definitely won’t win if you do not try.
Quite a few months ago, I wrote that “even a 99% Latino State wouldn’t elect Democrats when they don’t run.” This is illustrated best, here and now, in Forth Worth/Tarrant County. Furthermore, the implications of this charlie-foxtrot are very evident both on the Statewide level and in Harris County.
While I have been quite disappointed by the actions of Democratic up-and-comers who passed over on opportunities to run for the Senate or Attorney General this year (cough cough, Carlos Uresti), I have the utmost respect for the candidates found to run in those races. Whether that be Sam Houston or Maxey Scherr, I believe these are articulate and skilled politicians who will do their best in their respective races.
But when it comes to the Texas Supreme Court or the Court of Criminal Appeals, where SEVEN statewide judicial posts are up for election next year, the Democrats will likely leave many –if not most– of the posts unopposed.
Additionally, local posts in Harris County such as the County Judge,
District County Clerk or even County Commissioner Precinct 2 have failed to drawn a single official Democratic candidate thus far. Republicans will continue controlling the Counties and the State indefinitely –not matter how extreme or unpopular they may be– if they continue running unopposed.
This is not Battleground Texas’ fault, they are focusing on organization not candidate recruitment. Besides, they have tacitly alluded to the reality that next year’s elections are not winnable at a Statewide level. This is not the State Party’s fault, they do not have the money to recruit the candidates. It is our fault, every individual Democrat who chooses to pass the buck along to someone else. Someone needs to show up, and they will…eventually.
But I fear I’ll be a college graduate (Class of 2016) before they do.