What I’m looking for tomorrow

For the most part, Texpatriate endorsed Democrats this election cycle. An absolutely contemptible slate of statewide non-judicial Republicans, along with Harris County courts that are — all too often — corrupted or being run inefficiently, led us to disproportionately back the Democratic challengers. In editorial squabbles, especially compared to last year, I found myself seldom in the minority. In fact, only in one contest, the Land Commissioner election, did I dissent from the endorsement. If you still haven’t voted yet, please do so, whoever you will support.

If you have ever read something on this publication before, you are likely familiar with my skepticism as to Battleground Texas’ short-term feasibility, as well as the statewide Democratic slate. I’m not holding my breath for any statewide Democrats to win, but I’ve never insisted that their victory should be the number one priority. Since mid-2013, I have been writing that even a loss could be a win for Texas Democrats, and the rationale rests upon three main items.

First, State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic candidate for Governor, and the rest of the ticket need to move the needle. Bill White, the Democrats’ 2010 gubernatorial nominee, garnered 42% of the vote. Davis needs to do better in order for the pipedream of Texas turning blue to be taken seriously. She doesn’t need to do much better. After all, 2014 is shaping up to be a bad year for Democrats nationwide. But she needs to do better.

Second, the rest of the Democratic slate needs to do better. White significantly outperformed his compatriots because, as a popular former Mayor of Houston, he received many crossover votes, but also his running mates were lousy candidates. With downballot choices this time around such as State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Bexar County), the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and Mike Collier, the bombastic and stellar Comptroller candidate, the same simply cannot be said again in 2014. Oh yeah, and the Democratic candidate for Attorney General is named SAM HOUSTON! In all seriousness, he is a talented lawyer and a good candidate, but his rockstar name will ensure he probably does better than any other Democrat. The Democrats running statewide in 2010 not named Bill White received anywhere from 34-37%. That number’s median needs to be raised to at least 40%, in my opinion. That is comparable to how statewide Democratic candidates not named Barack Obama did in 2012.

Third, and most importantly, Davis needs to lend her coattails to Democratic pickups in Bexar (San Antonio), Harris and Nueces (Corpus Christi) counties. She also needs to have a strong enough performance in Dallas County to ensure the countywide elected Democrats politically survive there. I’ve seen no evidence that Nueces County is in play, but the other counties (including Dallas) look to be tossups. This is perhaps the most important.

If Democrats pick up anything in either Bexar or Harris Counties, it will largely justify some progress and otherwise good news for Democrats. This could be as simple as merely winning the DA’s office in Harris County. If they, by some lucky maneuver, can win all the way down the ticket in either county, it would be a truly cause for celebration. But going Zero for whatever once again in both counties would, similarly, cause alarm bells to ring. Losing in Dallas County would cause hell to break loose.

I have opined before that, if the Democrats do really, really poorly, as in less than 40% of the statewide vote, Battleground Texas will pack up and go home. Talk of “turning Texas blue” will be a one-time debacle only uttered in Washington DC bars, with the same lamentations as soft drink executives recalling New Coke. For the record, I don’t think that will occur, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility.

That is why it is so important to vote. Statewide races will almost certainly not be decided by close margins, but in Harris County they certainly could. Judge Kyle Carter, a Democrat in the 125th District Court, got re-elected by fewer than 2000 votes last time. Mike Sullivan, a Republican, was elected Tax Assessor by a similar margin. On first count, President Barack Obama carried the county by TWO votes. TWO votes. That’s you and one friend.


Guv update 11/9

The biggest news today in the gubernatorial campaign has been the filing of both major candidates, Attorney General Greg Abbott and State Senator Wendy Davis. The Texas Tribune reports on the development, happening on the very first day of filing for the 2014 primary. Abbott, in his filing ceremony, took the predictable step of castigating what he called “California-style liberalism” and painted Davis as a super-liberal. Davis, on the other hand, did not call out Abbott by name but did criticize the alleged ‘business-as-usual’ of Texas Republicans.

Abbott reiterated his strong opposition to abortion and support of HB2, the omnibus anti-abortion bill that Davis famously filibustered in June. Davis did not mention abortion once; but more on this later. Among other gubernatorial filers was Lisa Fritsch, a Republican. Also filing was the first Democratic opponent to Wendy Davis in the Democratic primary: Ray Madrigal.

Click here to read more about Davis’ Democratic opponent and other tidbits from her campaign!

Guv update 10/5

The Houston Chronicle, in the only gubernatorial news of the day, notes that Wendy Davis & the Texas Democratic Party will be campaigning at full throttle to turn out Latino Democrats from the southern Rio Grande Valley in the 2014 election.

The articles goes onto list two main, though distinct, priorities for Democrats in the valley. Admirably enough, these do not necessarily have much to do with gubernatorial election as much as they are simply systemic of a greater cause for the Democrats in this State.

First, the Chronicle notes that Nueces County, the home of Corpus Christi, really needs to turn blue once and for all. The county has long been on the fences, but swung very heavily to the right in the 2010 election. The result is having Blake Farenthold —this joker— representing the area in Congress. The county is 61% Hispanic, but is still dominated by Tea Party zealots. This is the future of Texas we are all looking at 30 years down the line, absent some big work. No matter what the demographic dividends have in store for us, if Democratic voters are too lazy to cast a darn ballot, nothing will get better. In fact, in the short term, it will probably get worse.

That is why the news of hearing that Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa and the Texas Democratic Party have hired two full-term field operators for the valley, including one specifically for Nueces County. Additionally, Battleground Texas will begin investing some serious time and money into the area.

The other aspect of this strategy, which I am ecstatic about, is working to increase the margins in already blue counties in the valley. While the governments and local representatives in counties such as Cameron (Brownsville), Hidalgo (McAllen) and Webb (Laredo) are already dominated by Democrats, it would help immensely if they won by greater margins. This is because Democrats statewide would be given a boost.

The news is yet another item that gives me a tiny flicker of hope about 2014. It will be a competitive election, to say the least.