A Chair’s race at the TDP

Via the inbox. Rachel Van Os, a local party activist who most recently ran unsuccessfully for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party in 2012, has pledged to throw her hat in the ring once more. Later this month, the State Democratic Convention will be held in Dallas. Incumbent Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, first elected in 2012, will run for re-election to a second term.

“It’s time we take back Texas and take back the reins of power from the rich and powerful who solely care about themselves and care nothing about the middle class or underprivileged,” Van Os said in her recent announcement. Longtime followers will remember Van Os’ husband, David Van Os, as a staple of local Austin politics as well as a three time candidate for Statewide office (Supreme Court in 1998 and 2004, Attorney General in 2006). Chairman Hinojosa, for his part, previously served in a plethora of roles in his native Cameron County (Brownsville), including County Judge, Court of Appeals Justice and County Party Chair.

Accordingly, the Chair’s fight at the 2014 Convention is shaping up to be strangely reminiscent of the 2012 contest. In that race, of course, Hinojosa scored a decisive victory against Van Os. In the nearly two years since, he has presided over a State party that has made ever-so-slight gains in the State Legislature, was well as been shot to stardom following the Wendy Davis filibuster. The strongest Democratic slate in many cycles was recruited for 2014, though funding that slate has turned out to be easier said than done. All in all, noticeable improvement has occurred since 2012.

In an effort of full disclosure, when I attended the 2012 Convention, which was held in Houston, I provided Houston-area consulting for Hinojosa and his campaign. Much like the other arrangements I have made in my life, any employment procured was a direct result of my vivid support, not the other way around. Anyways, nobody in the Chair’s race is currently paying me, which is probably the most important variable as I continue to write about it. But as a general rule, I do not work with or for people and causes I do not honestly believe in.

I must admit, the appeal of Van Os campaign in 2012 would have been hard to resist to me had I not have had mentors wiser than myself explaining some of the harsh realities of running a State Party at such an institutional disadvantage. Clamoring on stage about filling all the legislative races and county offices make for great grandstanding, but it is outside of the purview of a State Party, specifically one so drastically underfunded. While I have certainly never let anyone off easy when it comes to uncontested races, there is simply no use in criticizing those who are not responsible.

I’ll be at the State Convention all week when it occurs in a little over three weeks, so I look forward to reporting more on this contest.

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