April 09, 2005
Take Two with Richard Morrison

We had a second conference call with Richard Morrison last night, for the bloggers who couldn't make it on Tuesday. There are a couple of recaps up this morning, one from the Hope/Mike/Sam triumvirate representing the Appalachia Alumni Association, and three from the prolific Nate Nance: here, here, and here; I especially recommend the second of those.

I'm very pleased with how these conference calls went. We got a good response from the blog community, including from those who couldn't be there but wanted to be kept informed of future opportunities, of which I hope there will be (I'm already working on another one). Most importantly to me, I think Richard really made a good impression on everyone who attended. If you've read this blog at all over the last year and a half, you know that I think very highly of him. Hearing the response on the calls and seeing what has been written has been very gratifying for me in the way that finally introducing a person you've been enthusing about to all your friends and finding out that they think he's cool, too.

I want to talk a little about the continued speculation over other Democratic contenders jumping into the quest to dethrone DeLay, noted most recently by Kristin Mack at the Chron and discussed by Greg , Byron, and Marc Campos. I don't mind contested primaries - it's certainly nice to see Democrats thinking various races are worth running in, and maybe a matchup between Morrison and one or more of Gordon Quan, Nick Lampson, and Rick Noriega (where in the world did Kristin Mack pull that name from?) would generate some media coverage that actually includes mentioning Morrison's name in more than just passing. And when Morrison wins that primary going away - make no mistake, he's the favorite - then maybe there'll be some appreciation for what he's been doing since mid-2003 when no one wanted to touch this one. That'd be fine by me.

I also want to address the question of why we should bother to support anyone in this race when the odds are long, the opponent is entrenched and well-funded, and there are other battles to be fought. I'll start by saying that in 2006, Texas Democrats can count on their fingers the number of incumbents they'll have to truly defend: Chet Edwards, Hubert Vo, Mark Strama (in my opinion, those last two will have a much easier go of it this time around, owing to their strengths and their performance so far), David Leibowitz, Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles, and maybe David Farabee. Thanks to safe districts (the Republicans had to put Democratic voters somewhere, and their strategy was to pack them together wherever possible) and strong performances from the likes of Scott Hochberg and Patrick Rose, pretty much everyone else is darn near untouchable.

What that means is that Democrats should be aggressive about going on the attack. We have statewide elections this year, so of course a lot of resources will go into those. But that doesn't mean we should hoard what's left for those few seats we have to defend and the likely fewer seats we see as close contests for the Republicans. Quite the reverse, I say.

We're never going to win if we refuse to take our case to as many places and as many people as possible. Democrats are outnumbered in this state. We can't win on turnout, we have to win on persuading people to change their minds. That means going places we think of as unfriendly and talking to people we think as being aligned against us. The Republicans have been doing that for years, which is one reason why Bush did so much better in South Texas last year than in 2000. We can watch them eat into our turf, or we can make them defend their own.

Having more candidates means having more people make the case for your side. If Richard Morrison can persuade a person in Sugar Land or Clear Lake or Brazoria County that it's okay to vote for him even though he's a Democrat, then maybe that person will be a bit more open to the idea that there could be other Democrats worth voting for as well. Morrison is likely to go places that, say, Chris Bell won't be able to. Who else is going to help make those voters understand that they do have a choice?

Finally, it's been suggested that we Morrison supporters are giving in to our emotions instead of coldly focusing on where we "should" be trying to win. Is there no place left in politics to be inspired? There's more to all this than demographics and databases. You've got to believe in something or else it isn't going to matter to you. Inspiration, a vision of something better, a commitment to good and honest principles - that's how you get people to change their minds and give you their support. I like the way Nate put it:

So why do I support conservative Democrats like Chet Edwards? Is it just because I'm willing to abandon my beliefs for cheap political gain?

I don't think so.

I think that in addition to being a liberal Democrat, I'm also a partisan Democrat. But I don't think those two things are at odds with each other. I think they supplement my belief that America is great and that it was the Democratic party that got labor unions organized. It was the Democratic party that got us through the Depression and two world wars. It was the Democratic party that finally got civil rights legislation passed and it was the Democrats who were bold enough to ask "Why not?"

And the people who put their names on the ballot with a big D next to it are part of that tradition. Chet Edwards is very conservative because he's from a conservative part of Texas. But he has some of the same beliefs and he's a decent man.

Likewise with Richard Morrison. I'm not just going to support him because he is a Democrat or because I want to get rid of Tom DeLay, although those are factors. Listening to him, I was genuinely impressed with his ideas. I've never really heard anyone talk about the idea of subsidizing energy companies to make wind power more affordable and popular. I've never heard a Texas Democrat talk about how patriotic it is to drive a hybrid car. I don't normally hear someone describe themselves as pro-Life but Libertarian on abortion, which matches my own beliefs so closely.

We're not talking the lesser of two evils here; we're talking about a really good progressive candidate vs. pure evil.

So we need to see what support we can give him to make this a no-brainer for the people of Sugar Land. We need to get Richard Morrison elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Supporting candidates like Richard Morrison isn't taking support away from other candidates. It's an investment in the Democratic brand. We need more of that, not less.

UPDATE: Stace makes the case for Gordon Quan. I like Gordon Quan. I want Gordon Quan to run for Congress. I just want him to run in CD07, where he currently lives.

UPDATE: Grant Davis was also on the call and has a writeup as well.

UPDATE: And Kerry adds on.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 09, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

Chet isn't conservative, he's a centrist. Check out these ratings:

NARAL= 100%
NAACP= 80%
AFL-CIO= 80%
NEA= 100%

Charlie Stenholm, Max Sandlin, they of the blue dog dems and of the NRA endorsements(Sandlin at least) are conservatives.

Posted by: Cincinnatus on April 9, 2005 11:48 AM

"It was the Democratic party that finally got civil rights legislation passed?"

Really, Nate? The Democrats?

History would beg to differ... (with a refreshing insight into the last time the fillibuster rules were changed for an important reason).


Posted by: Chris Elam on April 9, 2005 2:24 PM

Are you serious? I'm going to make a quick list of Republican President who took a stand on Civil Rights. Ready: Abe Lincoln

OK, now I'm going to list the Democratic President who have: Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman

"It was the Democratic party that finally got civil rights legislation passed." Period.

How about a quote from a Republican leader in 2004 that shows how far your party has come on equal rights:

"We all know the trouble that young black men have growing up without going to prison." Republican Appropriations Chair Talmadge Heflin, August 2005

"We shall over come." LBJ, joint session of Congress, 1965

Having Republicans take credit for Civil Rights legislation is like having Sheryl Crow take credit for Lance Armstrong's Tour de France victory's: she wasn't in the picture for most of it, supported him when he won, but damn if he didn't pedal every mile on his own.

Posted by: Red Dog on April 9, 2005 6:37 PM

I still respectfully disagree with the Kuff, just because I believe the way to make a difference is to fight in House races that if we win, we control redistricting next time.

There is still emotion in being calculated: just ask Hubert Vo.

Fighting the good battles,


Posted by: Red Dog on April 9, 2005 6:40 PM

Eisenhower named the first African American to the White House executive staff but more important are the facts that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed because MORE Republicans in Congress voted for them than Democrats. As recent as 1970 the ONLY Congressman from the Houston region to vote for the Equal Housing Act was Congressman George HW Bush. There are more minority judges in Harris and Dallas County and all across Texas now than ever under 150 years of demo rule.

And Again one last thing abt Richard Morrisson. There is NO ONE, got it, NO ONE in Congress from the Houston region whose first job in government was Congress-NO ONE! State Representative to US Representative is the route like going from hs to college and wouldn't it be novel idea that instead of hanging around with MAD (Meyerland Area Democrats) and Heights Democrats etc if Morrison actually hung around at the Fort Bend Chamber, Sugar Land Rotary or Exchange Clubs, w/ folks that instead of simply making him feel good by clapping like trained seals actually could do the one thing he needs which is vote for the guy!

Posted by: Burt Levine on April 9, 2005 11:13 PM

Eisenhower named the first black executive to the White House Staff. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed b/c more Republicans in Congress voted for them than Democrats did. There are more black judges in Harris and Dallas County today than there ever were after 150 yrs of demo leaders.

With regard to Richard Morrison please note that there is NO ONE in the Houston region in Congress whose first govt job was Congress! Most were state representatives and my point is Morrison is no more above that than Tom Reiser, Arlette Molina, Gene Fontenot, Dolly Madison McKenna, Peter Wareing, Ben Streusand or Phil Sudan. DeLay, Gene Green, Kevin Brady, Culberson were state reps before being US Representatives like most folks were high school before college.

Here is a novel idea! What if instead of hanging around MAD (Meyerland Area Demos) and Heights Demos were no can vote for him what if Richard Morrisson had been active at allegedly non-partisan organizations like Fort Bend Chamber, Sugar Land Exchange or Rotary? I didn't see him at Exchange Club's Spaghetti Cookoff in February to benefit local law enforcement were thee like 4,000 actual CD22 residents and voters but maybe that would be too challenging and its more fun to go to events were ZERO people can vote for you but they make you feel good with they clap for you like trained seals at Sea World.

Posted by: Burt Levine on April 9, 2005 11:25 PM

I am a District 22 democrat. And the view from inside this mess is very different. The blogging community has obviously fallen in love with Richard, but to suggest that he is the darling of local democrats is almost laughable.

Richard performed under 40% in every place his campaign targeted with money and workers (ie- Clear Lake and Galveston). His 44% showing against DeLay was the dual result of favorable demographic shifts in the district and a re-energized Democratic Party apparatus in the northern half of his district which he was in constant conflict with. His campaign was a disorganized parade of faux-pas from start to finish. In other words, it is conceivable that DeLay might not be in office right now if Richard hadn't ruined his chances with a litany of missed opportunities and fractured coalitions.

Today, Richard Morrison is a man who has never held office at the helm of a disasterous campaign staff that currently finds itself in $44,000 in illegal debt. I hope to God you don't really think he is the favorite...

Please come visit:


Posted by: District22Dem on April 22, 2005 11:44 PM