August 25, 2003
Dean in Texas

I really don't intend to become a Deanblogger - there are plenty of more qualified folks for that job - but I do want to comment about something in this article about Dean's swing through Austin and San Antonio today. The speaker quoted is Glen Maxey, former state representative and current chair of Dean for Texas.

Win or lose -- Clinton or Dukakis -- Maxey sees Dean as a no-lose candidate for Texas Democrats.

"This is the real thing," Maxey said. "The kicker for me about Howard Dean is, I want to see the Democratic Party revived in Texas. What I see in Howard Dean is a catalyst for reviving an institution.

"There is so much residual effect of this campaign. In the last 10 years, all we've done is lick our wounds and pick up the pieces after an election. George Bush, unless I perform a walk-on-water miracle in this campaign, is going to win Texas," Maxey said.

But here's where Maxey embraces the dreaded McGovern analogy that is anathema to the Dean campaign.

"I see happening for a lot of people what happened for me in 1971," he said, recalling when he worked in the McGovern campaign, which also included young folks such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Garry Mauro and others who later built careers in politics and public service.

"There's hundreds of college kids organizing the San Antonio rally," Maxey said. "They're going to be state reps and state senators 20 years from now."

I think that's exactly right. Barring a complete meltdown of some kind (and even then I wouldn't bet on it), Texas' electoral votes will not be in play for the Democrats in 2004. What will be in play, though, are a bunch of other offices - every State and US House seat, various State Senate seats, and countless local offices. The single best thing that could happen to the Texas Democratic Party in 2004 is for there to be a Presidential candidate on the ballot that people here will want to get out and vote for, even with the realization that that particular vote is meaningless, because that will also generate votes for all of the down-ballot candidates.

We all know that (again, barring some kind of unprecedented meltdown) Republicans will be out in force voting for President Bush. Having a Democratic candidate at the top of the ticket that generates some excitement will be necessary just to not lose any more ground. And if the stars align well, a decent turnout among Dems could not only protect various vulnerable incumbents (such as Congressmen Stenholm and Edwards, assuming no change in districts, and State Rep. Patrick Rose, to name three) but maybe score a few pickups. I'm thinking the 23rd CD, where Rep. Henry Bonilla won 51.5-47.2 in 2002, and State House districts 5, 8, 9, 19, 32, 48, 134, and 149, all of which were won with less than 56% of the vote by the GOP candidate.

Longer term, as Maxey alludes to, getting people involved when they're young is an unqulified boon as well. The future has to come from somewhere, after all. Whatever else happens, if Dean's candidacy means there are more Democratic volunteers for 2006 and beyond, it will have been a resounding success.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 25, 2003 to The making of the President | TrackBack