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New leader, new troubles

Harris County Democrats selected Gerry Birnberg as their interim party chair to fill out Sue Schecter’s unexpired term. Birnberg will have to run for reelection in the 2004 primary.

He promised to raise enough money to hire a full-time executive director. Birnberg said the current county party budget is about $60,000 and he hopes to raise an additional $150,00 this year.

He also promised to adopt a more traditional Democratic Party message and move away from the failed strategy among some Texas Democrats of running as “Bush lite” — trying to link themselves to the popular president from Texas.

The new focus, Birnberg said, will be on health care, jobs, environment and other issues that he said Republicans shy away from.

“The Democratic message is: People matter,” Birnberg said. “My honest belief is that that message resonates.”

We’ll see. How you say it is also important, and without some obvious and memorable values behind it, a message like that is just a meaningless slogan. We’ll need more than just a message to be a factor.

Meanwhile, there’s trouble brewing in the state party as some dissidents have taken aim at Molly Beth Malcolm, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party.

Malcolm malcontents characterize her as “Republican lite,” unwilling to push traditional Democratic positions after switching from the Republican Party in 1992.

Last year, Malcolm helped keep national Democratic leaders away from the party’s convention in El Paso. She said she wanted to keep the spotlight on Texas candidates, but Republican critics quickly charged that the state Democrats were trying to distance themselves from a more-liberal national party.

Malcolm’s critics also say she has become too Austin-centric, turning a deaf ear to grass-roots efforts in other parts of the state.

“She’s a nice lady, but we need to do something to shake up our system and light some fires,” said Pharr insurance agent Juan Maldonado, a state party vice chairman.

I didn’t know she used to bat for the other team, but given how many Republicans are former Democrats in this state, I don’t think it really matters. What I do know is that we deserved better in 2002, and its way past time for the state party to get its act together. Everything I said about Harris County Democrats is equally true for the state. Let’s get a move on.

Oh, and by the way: “Tart-tongued Texarkanan”? “Malcom malcontents”? Someone get me the Alliteration Police on the line. I need to report a felony.

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One Comment

  1. State/County Democrats On the Move

    Off the Kuff: New leader, new troubles Kuff beat me to this one, so I’m linking to him on this.