August 10, 2004
Us against the world

Texas Democratic Party Chair Charles Soechting has thrown down the gauntlet.

State Democratic Chairman Charles Soechting said Monday that he is disgusted that his national party has written Texas off as Republican and is urging financial donors from here to cut off the Democratic National Committee.

"Is a line drawn in the sand between myself and the DNC? Yes it is," Soechting said. "If you want good government in Texas, you start (by giving) at home."

Soechting said national party officials have taken the attitude that Texas is President Bush's home state and cannot be won.

"That is a loser, defeatist mentality," Soechting said. "I'm not willing to concede that Texas is not winnable. I'm just hearing too many good things around the state."

Soechting said he decided to start urging Texas donors to keep their money in the state after the DNC offered $5,000 to the Texas party to send staff to battleground states that could be won by the Kerry presidential campaign.

"I'm not sending a single person to another state when we have important races here. They want my best and brightest," Soechting said. "I've got people from the courthouse to the White House to elect."

Byron has already covered most of the ground here. I agree that Texas is not in play, that Soechting's never-say-die attitude is what should be expected from a state party chair, and that it's time Texas got a little love back from the DNC.

I think Soechting is taking the wrong tack here, though. Unless you can find some polls showing Bush below 50% in Texas, you're going to have a real hard time convincing anyone that Texas is winnable. There's no traction in that argument.

What Soechting needs to hammer on is twofold. One is the fate of the redistricted Congressional incumbents. All of these candidates (and Richard Morrison and Morris Meyer, too) will benefit from better turnout among Democrats, something which a visit or two from the Kerry/Edwards ticket can help provide. If you think Kerry himself won't be much help for some or all of the endangered incumbents, fine. Just send Edwards, or deputize Wes Clark as I've advocated. Especially in light of Rodney Alexander's cowardly last-minute party switch, every Congressional seat is critical. This is an argument that should resonate with the DNC.

The second point is harder to make as a short-term proposition, but is in my opinion the more important long-term. We all know that the demographics of Texas are changing. Hispanics are on the verge of becoming the majority population, and their historic voting patterns strongly suggest that as this happens, Texas will become more Democratic. How long this takes to happen, and how great an effect there will be as it does, is entirely up to the state and national Democratic Party. They can put some time and effort into voter registration and outreach (getting the New Democratic Network to run some of their Spanish language TV ads here would be a good start) and reap the benefits sooner, maybe even in 2006, or they can sit on their hands and let the state GOP use its money and organizational skills to erode that advantage.

I'm more than happy to see Soechting make this challenge to the DNC. I just want to see him make it as persuasive as possible. I think what I've outlined here has a better chance than the Texas-is-a-swing-state strategy.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 10, 2004 to Show Business for Ugly People | TrackBack

Ha, you'll see plenty of us, don't worry ;-)

Posted by: jesselee on August 10, 2004 8:32 AM

Given that Soechting has said this, I hope that he'll now work to discontinue the practice of the state party writing-off county parties. If not, I may have to use the "h" word...

Posted by: Vince on August 11, 2004 12:17 AM

Soechting is right on. The DNC's shortsighted strategy of writing off Bush's home state underscores the fact that the national party is run by folks too self-important to see that holding the incumbent president to the low 50s would be not just an embarrassment to him, but a boon to our down-ballot candidates.

Posted by: Zangwell Arrow on August 11, 2004 8:58 AM

Yeah, I'm biased because my paycheck comes from the Texas Democratic Party but it's still a good idea for Soechting to speak out like this. Texas has 32 congressmen and 34 electors. We have a population that is 43% Black and Hispanic (and growing). Our people are suffering too and the GOP has failed them. Will Bush lose Texas? Probably not. But if he only gets 52-53% here that will get our troops fired up and will lay a great groundwork for 2006. If we can make big gains in 2006 there is a chance Texas could be in play for 2008. We deserve more attention than this.

Texas is an $8 million gamble- it costs at least that much to be even slightly visible in this state and there is a good chance if you are a Democrat nowadays you will lose. I am afraid that Texas will be ignored until a Texas Democrat is on the ballot for President or Vice President and with the moderate/conservative streak of most of our Dems that might be a very long time. Perhaps if we can get a Democrat elected to the Senate or governor and they can run in the primaries just to get some money and support for Democrats. But in the meantime, Soechting is saying all the right things.

Posted by: Andrew D on August 11, 2004 10:38 AM

Soechting is right to call for some fairness from the DNC, but calling on TX Dems to boycott the DNC right now is absolutely atrocious timing.

Many of us do want to help defeat Bush, and now that the Democratic convention is over and Kerry is on public financing and subject to spending limits, the DNC is one of the best vehicles to do this.

So I'd say contribute to, but also keep sending the DNC some love. At least till November.

Posted by: Mathwiz on August 11, 2004 4:27 PM

I appreciate all of the comments. Let me say that about "looking for a poll" that says Bush is at 50%. We are 80 days out with a President that loses traction daily around the country and especially in Texas. Therefore the only poll that is going to matter is the final vote count the morning after. Let me simplify the DNC attitude by using an analogy, a child or anyone develops an illness, something like diabetes and the doctor says "well, once you start improving we're going to start treating you. And, by the way we know that you are doing everything you can to help yourself and your money is helping to keep a lot of others healthy but until you start improving---no help." We continue to work with the DNC in many other ways butI will never send my paid state staffers out of state and abandon Texas just because the suggestion came from the DNC. Just a thought, Charles Soechting, Chairman, Texas Democratic Party

Posted by: Charles Soechting on August 13, 2004 6:27 AM