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.
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