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What I’m looking for in the next HCDP Chair

Lane Lewis

Following up on yesterday’s post, here are a few issues I’ve been thinking about regarding the position of HCDP Chair.

1. Focus on voter registration

My main takeaway from this past election is that Harris County is now fundamentally blue, with the majority of new voters coming into the county being more likely to be Democrats. By “new voters”, I mean people who move here, people who turn 18, and people who become citizens, so they are eligible to vote but have to actually register to do so. It needs to be our priority to make sure that they do. There are also a lot of people who move within the county every year and need to update their registrations, and there are still people who could be registered but aren’t. It should be the party’s goal, especially now that we have a friendly person overseeing the registration process, to maximize the voter rolls.

2. Expand the vote-by-mail outreach project (maybe)

There has been a focus under Chair Lewis to get more eligible Democrats to vote by mail. It has been successful by any measure, though I don’t know the details behind it. Specifically, I don’t know how many of these mail voters are people who had reliably voted in person before, and how many are new or lower-propensity voters. I’d like to hear how the Chair candidates evaluate this effort and what they would do to improve and expand it, if they think that is a good idea.

3. Continue the focus on “other” elections

Under Chair Lewis, the party has provided basic information about candidates in Houston municipal races – what their voting history is, who is or is not a sustaining member of the HCDP, etc. It has also done some advocacy for candidates in races where there is a clear choice between a lone Democratic candidate and one or more non-Democrats. This should definitely continue, and it should also be expanded, to include the various school board races, HCC and Lone Star College, and municipal races in other Harris County cities. The May elections in Pasadena should be a particular point of interest for the HCDP.

4. Think more regionally

Democrats did about as well as they could have in Harris County in 2016. I feel pretty good about making gains in 2018, though of course there are a lot of things that can and will affect how that election will go that have yet to play out. At some point, to continue the momentum, we are going to need to be more involved in races that go beyond our borders. Examples include the First and 14th Courts of Appeals, and multi-county districts like SD17 and CD22. Fort Bend and to a lesser extent Brazoria County are becoming more Democratic in part because they are more like Harris County in nature – more urban, and more attractive to the kind of person who tends to vote our way. We should seek to work more closely with our counterparts in neighboring counties to help maximize Democratic performance not just in Harris County but in the greater Houston region.

This is all high-level bullet point stuff, and there are more things that need to be in the discussion, but this is what I’ve been thinking about. I do intend to send out a Q&A to Chair hopefuls, to get a better idea of where they stand on things. If nothing else, I’ll need to make up my own mind about whom to support. What do you want the next Chair to focus on?

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  1. Great post, especially the part about suburban races. Pasadena is going to be wild in May. My only add is someone who is familiar with the VAN database. It is such an important tool.

  2. […] What I’m looking for in the next HCDP Chair […]

  3. Christopher Young says:

    Approximately 12,000 of the VBM’s cast in 2016 were cast by what are referred to as low propensity voters (not likely to vote). Approximately 25% with almost all of those being highly likely Democratic voters because of the HCDP program. The numbers show that the VBM program was (by far) the most cost effective way of getting low propensity voters to vote, despite the many impeding actions of specific donors who think only their money and their paid “consultants” can increase turnout.

  4. Chip says:

    2018 is critical. Mail-in ballots are fine but we need a comprehensive Get Out the Vote Plan by the new County Chair. We need to build on the successes of 2016, in 2018, which is a mid-term election where Democrats do not usually vote. There are 271,000 new Democratic voters to identify and bring to the polls. We need to take half of the County Courts at Law, at least 2 of the 3 members of the powerful Commissioners Court, and the County Clerk position, which runs our elections. That does not mention the State-wide races that are up for grabs. We showed in 2016 that we can do this. We need a County Chair that will aggressively pursue these goals.

  5. Neither Here Nor There says:

    Make the tent more accommodating for those that may think outside the social norms of the Harris County Democratic Party. Go back to jobs, education, and taking care of people a government that is fair and caring.