July 21, 2005
Once again: Run every race

I have to say, I'm at a loss to understand why the concept of running a candidate in every race has less than unanimous acclaim among my fellow Democrats. Still, just as some of us were cheering at the prospect of an open Senate seat, even one in solid Republican turf, here comes Marc Campos to be the wet blanket.

Yesterday, an internet opinion suggested that Dems field a candidate in SD 7. They said Dems can go from 25% to maybe 40% - from a severe a__ whipping, to a solid a__ whipping. Bad idea. It costs $1250 to file for state senator. Better idea to send that money to Ellen Cohen.

Ooookay, I'll grant that if all Democrats collectively had to spend was $1250, I'd agree that Ellen Cohen would get a bigger bang for the buck than our hypothetical SD7 challenger. I'm pretty sure there will be more money than that to go around, however. If not, we're in deeper trouble than I thought.

Marc's point is that there's only a finite amount of money available, and races like Cohen's challenge to Martha "No Thong" Wong is a higher priority than a quixotic assault on SD7. I'll readily concede that, but I say that viewing campaigns and the funds for them as a zero sum game is wrong. By my count, there were over 83,000 people in SD7 who cast a vote for John Kerry last year. Almost all of them - 162 of 167 precincts, to be exact - have no Democrats representing them at any level. Only eight precincts, five represented by Wong and three by Scott Hochberg, featured a competitive non-countywide race. How many of those 83,000 people do you think were visited by a Democratic candidate and asked for their support? My guess would be not very many, which means there's lots of potential there for new donors.

If we truly care about our own values, we'll strive to bring candidates who promote them to voters who share them, wherever those voters may be. If we do that, I'm willing to bet we'll find that the support we get, both in terms of votes and donations, is greater than we think. We Democrats in Texas have been complaining about the national party hitting us up for cash for it to spend on races and candidates everywhere else. We should be treating our allies in places like SD7 the same way that we want the DNC to treat us.

Another odd argument I've heard against fielding candidates even in solid GOP territory is that by doing so you'll just drive up Republican turnout in those races. See the first comment here for an example of that genre. Well, hell, by that logic we shouldn't run in any statewide races. I sure hope no one's advocating that. Maybe some of those Republicans who wouldn't bother to vote in noncompetitive races sit them out because they're not really all that committed to the GOP. Maybe some of them, if presented with an alternative, might consider taking that alternative. For certain, we're not going to convince too many people to vote for us if we don't have the decency to ask them to do so.

(For an interesting take on where we might find some Democrats to run otherwise overlooked races, see what Bogey has to say.)

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 21, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

This is Charles Soechting, Chair of the Texas Democratic Party. When I was elected almost two years ago I was told by "people in the know" that I was wrong to recruit candidates to run in races where we couldn't win. We were wrong to support candidates in places where we could not win. We were wrong to work with the campaigns of people like Hubert Vo because he couldn't win. Hubert's campaign managers, Karen and Mustafa, showed that good candidates can win in marginal districts. If you want to make sure that you don't lose a race don't run. The only sure way to make sure you fail is to not try. It is a guaranteed formula for loss, defeat, whatever you want to call it. Democrats do have limited resources and SD 7 would be a hard race----for one reason---the Republicans drew it to be hard! They drew it to be safefor R's. Thank God Sam Houston and others did not have the "play it safe" attitude that is all too pervasive in today's politics. I encourage every Democrat to recruit candidates to run in every race. We are poised to take advantage of the dishonesty and corruption in the Bush White House, the Perry administration, the ineffective Dewhurst Senate and in the Craddick Cartel. Do any of you seriously believe that the scandals of the R's will go away in time. The R's are dishonest crooks and we should be poised to defeat them. We should be prepared with candidates and have faith if not dollars that the voters are capable of figuring out that the party in power has abused the power. There is strength in honesty. We should all stand tall as Democrats and not allow a few to tell us who should and should not run, who is and who is not the right candidate but rather we should gather together and support all of those who believe in the principles which make our Party what it is-----Honest, Responsible and capable of governing. Democratically yours, Charles Soechting, Chair of the Texas Democratic Party

Posted by: charles soechting on July 21, 2005 9:48 PM

Kuff, forget the filing fee ---- candidates can also collect signatures on a filing petition and forgo the $1250 ---

Posted by: ttyler5 on July 21, 2005 10:20 PM

Campos' attitude is typical of the defeatist dinosaurs who think that if we don't field candidates, the Rs will forget there's an election and stay home. Never gonna happen. You have to be in it to win it.

Posted by: Zangwell Arrow on July 22, 2005 5:44 AM

I know I am "remarkably single-issue-focused," and I am referring only to my little world in north Spring, but if Campos took a minute to learn about the intense feelings generated up here by the proposed bulldozing of our community (Grand Parkway), he might understand why a Dem could make inroads. It's a big district, I know, but HCTRA and TxDOT have been busy alienating homeowners, neighborhoods -- heck entire communities! -- for awhile now. If someone (R or D) would jump on that issue, it could shake things up.

But Campos doesn't strike me as a guy (judging from his Commentary writings) who is interested in these things.

One more thing: I know many people here won't agree with me on the issue of property taxes, BUT many homeowners who have worked hard to get property tax relief are ticked off with many R's in Austin. So much so that they are ready to vote against incumbent R's. I have heard many Republican voters say on the radio they would vote for a Dem if only to send a message to the fat, happy and lobbyist-bought R's.

The opportunity is there.

Posted by: Anne on July 22, 2005 7:51 AM

Dare to fight and dare to win

It is my belief that the statewide Democratic vote for state offices in the last 3 non-presidential general elections is not representative of the Democratic base. It is my belief that the Democratic base is much bigger than the votes the Democratic statewide candidates received in those elections, but that not much was done in those elections to motivate growth in the base voter turnout. Even when two minority-group candidates were put at the top of the ticket in 2002, the consultantocracy made sure that those candidates' campaigns did not convey strong populist messages of the kind that would speak to the base vote. I am convinced that strong populist Democratic campaigns appealing directly to the Texas Democratic base will wake the slumbering parts of that base from the sleep they have been in since at least 1994.

Some argue that I am wrong in this belief. To them I say: you cannot show me that a hard-hitting, statewide Democratic populist campaign aimed at the base will not expand the Democratic vote statewide into a majority, when it hasn't been tried in a long time. How could one know it won't make a difference if it is not given a chance? We've been using the "take no risks" warm fuzzy platitude messages over and over. Now it is time to do it the other way.

It is time to discard the "avoid polarization at all costs" strategy, the "take no risks" strategy, the "appeal to everybody" strategy, and the "chase the middle" strategy. It is time to remember what Jim Hightower told us 20 years ago, that "there's nothin' in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos." It is time to cease the followership strategies of scripting campaigns on the basis of what people thought yesterday in polls, and assert the leadership strategies of campaigning for what we know to be right based on our deepest convictions of what we want for tomorrow. It is time to stop worrying about whom we might offend if we speak truth to power, and start worrying about what value are our lives if we don't speak truth to power. It is time to cherish partisan Democrats and reject nonpartisan Nothingcrats. It is time to forget "right-left" analysis and install "right-wrong" analysis. It is time to replace the "liberal-conservative" spectrum with the "liberty-tyranny" spectrum. It is time to stop worrying about how to get money from big donors and start worrying about how to get more money into working people's paychecks. It is time to fight for better lives for voters instead of peddle promises to voters. It is time to treat public office as a duty, not a promotion. We must fight for the people, not in order to win their votes, but in order to win them justice. When we Democrats as the heirs of the noblest political tradition in the world - the Democratic tradition of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, James Stephen Hogg, Ralph Yarborough, Ann Richards, and millions of unsung Democratic heroes - learn and relearn and apply these things, the people will know we are there for them and they will turn to us, because they are in need and have been in need for a long time. The more courageously and more vigorously we fight for the people against economic, cultural, and political tyranny, all the sooner will they turn to us. When that happens we will be prepared to win for the people, because we will already be thinking like winners and conducting ourselves as winners. We will dare to fight and dare to win.

David Van Os

Posted by: David Van Os on July 22, 2005 8:46 AM

A good challenge (or even a bad one) keeps bad elected officials on their toes and honest. If we keep allowing some of the most conservative representatives and senators to run unopposed year after year we will keep giving them a mandate to produce absurd and nonsense legislation on sexy cheerleading, destroying the environment, and so on. But, if we find a bold and energetic candidate to challenge these staple of bad decisions and activate more democrats then we can hold officials accountable to their choices. We can begin to have real resolution with education and health care in Texas. I say god bless the men and women who make these tough choices and run these important races.

Posted by: Matt Glazer on July 22, 2005 10:37 AM

Wow, I just want to say "Hell Yeah" to our party chairman, Mr. Soechting, here. Especially this:

"We should all stand tall as Democrats and not allow a few to tell us who should and should not run, who is and who is not the right candidate but rather we should gather together and support all of those who believe in the principles which make our Party what it is-----Honest, Responsible and capable of governing."

This is exactly what we're trying to do with Step Up Texas: give every Texas Democrat an opportunity and a forum to recruit and show support for candidates in EVERY race on the ballot.

In my mind there is no question we should be challenging Republicans all across Texas and we need to scale the recruiting effort to all Democrats in order to get more, better candidates discovered at the local level.

Posted by: Step Up Texas (Trei Brundrett) on July 22, 2005 11:14 AM

Consider the proverbial Ham and Egg Breakfast (the chicken participates but the hog commits). The egg is the vote on Election Day (The Breakfast) and the ham is the candidate and solid financial support for that candidate.

I think Campos is trying to convert chickens into hogs. OK, maybe little hogs, but without that commitment we're all just a bunch of chickens.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on July 22, 2005 12:12 PM

Before this goes any further, I would like to correct one thing from Chairman Soechting. Hubert Vo had/has only one campaign manager, Karen Loper.

Since I believe that Democrats can/should win races in 2006, I don't disagree with giving money to winnable races (ie Ellen Cohen). In fact, if our trail lawyer friends had given Hubert any money before Nov., we might have been able to avoid Andy Taylor completely. I like killing elephants, as in beating Republican office holders, but I do agree there is more to the hunt than just the kill (how's that for red state language!).

I'm not sure anyone is against giving money to winnable races, but it would sure be nice to have some scienitific population/census data so decisions are based more on science than gossip. (Texas Research Foundation, come on down!)

Posted by: Red Dog on July 22, 2005 11:49 PM

David Van Os, Thomas Jefferson was not only NOT a democrat in the modern sense, he was a libertarian, and he would recoil in horror from everything the contemporary democratic party stands for.

Posted by: ttyler5 on July 23, 2005 12:39 AM

A study of the vote counts where the GOP had uncontested races shows that the other Democrats on the ballot did worse than expected. This makes sense. Campos' theory is idiotic.

Posted by: Easter Lemming Liberal News on July 23, 2005 2:33 AM