This will surely ruffle a few feathers.
Two prominent Hispanic Democratic officials from Texas harshly criticized an arm of their national party today for skipping over the state when it provided funding muscle for U.S. Senate candidates across the country.
State Sens. Mario Gallegos of Houston and Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio objected to the fact that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee collected contributions from Texans -- $1.1 million at an event in San Antonio, for instance -- without sending any to the campaign of outgoing state legislator Rick Noriega of Houston.
Noriega lost the Senate race in November to Republican incumbent John Cornyn, who raised $10 million during the campaign to $4 million for Noriega, according to federal records.
The Democratic committee's decision to spend the money outside Texas "is shameful and disgraceful, and we will do everything we can to prevent this disrespect from happening again," the two state senators wrote.
"For the face of the U.S. Senate to represent the true face of America, we must all work together to invest in quality candidates such as Rick Noriega, not take a walk when our candidate is not a member of the millionaires' club," they added.
Noriega, too, is Hispanic, and Gallegos and Van de Putte implied in their letter that ethnicity figured into the national Democratic strategy.
"Rick Noriega has an impeccable pedigree to run in Texas. He is an old-fashioned Democrat -- a family man, a man of faith, a combat-decorated veteran, a legislator, with an Ivy-league education and time spent defending the border," they wrote. "He has a heart for the people, impeccable Democratic credentials and is an awesome retail campaigner. To some who chose to sit on the sidelines in this election, those characteristics were apparently not enough -- he is not wealthy or white. We have always believed Democrats are better than that."
The pair also wrote, "The heat of election night had not cooled before the speculation began about DSCC support for several Anglo candidates in future races. This is not only disrespectful; it's shameful."
There's a lot to be said here, and I think you all know how frustrated I felt this year at the lack of support outside the netroots for Noriega. There's plenty of blame to go around, not just to the DSCC. I think once the Obama campaign decided to focus its resources elsewhere and use the energy and dollars of its Texas supporters in other states, there was little chance that Noriega would get much attention from the state and national establishment. The DNC and its Fifty State Strategy have invested in Texas in recent years, but I think it's safe to say that other states have received a larger dividend. As described in John Spong's Texas Monthly article from awhile back, there were plenty of bigtime Democratic fundraisers in the state who did precious little to help Noriega, especially early on when better initial fundraising numbers would have given him some momentum. And yes, as also described in that article, Noriega himself could have done a lot better on this front. As with all unsuccessful campaigns, there's never just one reason for it.
And not to put too fine a point on it, but every Democrat in Texas who has given to a campaign or campaign committee outside of Texas bears some of the blame, too. What do you think might happen if the next time the DSCC asks for support here they're told "Not until we start getting a fair shake"? It's clear from reading Glen Maxey's account of that $1.1 million fundraiser that there was a belief this was a down payment on an investment in Texas by the national folks. Either that was a lie, or it was wishful thinking based on noncommittal statements. I understand that it's the DSCC's job to win Senate races, not to build state party infrastructure. They've done quite well at that job in recent years, too. It's our job to win races in Texas, and where that comes in conflict with what the DSCC and its brethren want to do, it's up to us to decide what we want to do about that. I hope that message is received as well as the one being delivered to Sens. Menendez, Salazar, et al. Stace has more.Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 12, 2008 to Election 2008