Democrats many years away from rel­e­vancy

The con­se­quence of their con­sis­tent los­ing is that Texas Democrats pos­sess a very weak bench to draw from for 2014.

Austin American-Statesman - - VIEWPOINTS - TWO VIEWS face­­man let­ters@states­man. com. Mack­owiak is an Austin and Wash­ing­ton­based Repub­li­can con­sul­tant, co-founder of Must Read Texas and pres­i­dent of Po­tomac Strat­egy Group, LLC. He has been an ad­viser to two U.S. sen­a­tors and a gov­ern


are two types of politi­cians in Texas: statewide elected of­fi­cials and ev­ery­one else.

The rea­son is that be­ing elected statewide in a state of 25 mil­lion peo­ple with 20 me­dia mar­kets that each have at least one tele­vi­sion sta­tion and daily news­pa­per is a tall task.

Democrats, bask­ing in the glow of the 51.5 to 47.5 per­cent na­tional elec­tion vic­tory, in­clud­ing an 8 point im­prove­ment with His­pan­ics, now boast that Texas (which Mitt Rom­ney won 57-40) will be in play in 2016.

There is one ma­jor prob­lem with that: the Texas Demo­cratic Party.

Since 1994, the Texas Demo­cratic Party is 0-100 in statewide races. You read that right.

They reg­u­larly fail to field a full slate of statewide can­di­dates, have ma­jor fundrais­ing prob­lems and pos­sess no statewide or­ga­ni­za­tion or field op­er­a­tion. Put sim­ply, they are piti­ful. The con­se­quence of their con­sis­tent los­ing is that Texas Democrats pos­sess a very weak bench to draw from for 2014, when the top statewide of­fices will be up for grabs.

The four most of­ten men­tioned Demo­cratic can­di­dates for statewide of­fice are San An­to­nio Mayor Ju­lian Cas­tro, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, U.S. Rep.-elect Joaquin Cas­tro of San An­to­nio and state Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dal­las.

Mayor Cas­tro has a bright fu­ture and a na­tional plat­form from his key­note ad­dress at the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion in Char­lotte, N.C. He re­cently passed a tax in­crease to fund a pre-K pro­gram, and he is now writ­ing an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. But 2014 may be too soon for him, and he needs greater achieve­ments as mayor — par­tic­u­larly in trans­porta­tion, crime and ed­u­ca­tion.

Sen. Davis won a tough re-elec­tion to her Fort Worth-area seat and is loved by the left wing of her party for tem­po­rar­ily block­ing ed­u­ca­tion cuts last ses­sion. She has proven her­self a strong fundraiser, but she is likely too far to the left to be elected statewide in Texas.

Con­gress­man-elect Cas­tro and Rep. Anchia are mostly un­proven and will need to climb the po­lit­i­cal lad­der.

What about re­cent Demo­cratic can­di­dates? Former Hous­ton Mayor Bill White, beaten by Gov. Rick Perry in 2010, has es­sen­tially dis­ap­peared. Former Dal­las Mayor Ron Kirk went to the Obama Cab­i­net as U.S. trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive and ap­pears done with elec­toral pol­i­tics.

The Demo­cratic nom­i­nee for U.S. Se­nate and a se­ri­ous pol­icy ex­pert, former state Rep. Paul Sadler, ran a cam­paign that would have been an em­bar­rass­ment for the state Se­nate, let alone the U.S. Se­nate. He didn’t raise enough for one statewide tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ment and lost by 17 points to ris­ing star Sen.-elect Ted Cruz.

In com­par­i­son, the Repub­li­can Party of Texas is in a strong po­si­tion. Chair­man Steve Mu­nis­teri, who has agreed to serve a sec­ond two-year term, has turned the party around, re­cruit­ing His­panic can­di­dates, mov­ing to a new head­quar­ters, tire­lessly trav­el­ing the state and re­lent­lessly rais­ing money to bring the party out of debt and into sav­ings.

Since Texas was not part of the na­tional state-by-state exit polls, we do not have re­li­able data on how Repub­li­cans per­formed with His­pan­ics, but pre­vi­ous elec­tions have shown that Repub­li­can can­di­dates like Ge­orge W. Bush and Kay Bai­ley Hutchi­son can win 40 to 50 per­cent of His­panic votes with the right mes­sage, which guar­an­tees statewide vic­tory.

Democrats in Texas need a five- to 10year plan back to rel­e­vance.

They should aim to field a full slate of statewide can­di­dates in 2014, with a goal of win­ning at least one of­fice. They should uti­lize Mayor Cas­tro for in­creased na­tional fundrais­ing, tap the Obama or­ga­ni­za­tion for field­work and ef­fec­tively pres­sure Repub­li­cans dur­ing the leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

To date, we’ve seen the new chair­man, Gil­berto Hi­no­josa, dis­gust­ingly claim that Sen.-elect Cruz “de­nied his her­itage” and per­son­ally at­tack fu­ture star Ge­orge P. Bush — not im­pres­sive, con­struc­tive or en­cour­ag­ing.

Repub­li­cans in Texas have ush­ered in a pe­riod of sus­tained eco­nomic growth, lead­ing the na­tion in job cre­ation. Perry has clearly been suc­cess­ful — he is the long­est-serv­ing gov­er­nor in Texas his­tory and the long­est-serv­ing in the na­tion to­day.

The fu­ture is bright with lead­ers like Greg Ab­bott, Ted Cruz and Ge­orge P. Bush ready to lead.

If Democrats ever get their act to­gether in Texas, the state could be­come com­pet­i­tive. Given cur­rent re­al­i­ties, I don’t ex­pect this to be be­fore 2018, at the ear­li­est. The Amer­i­can-States­man steps back and in­vites con­trib­u­tors to present two points of view on an is­sue that af­fects our read­er­ship.

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“Some peo­ple seem re­luc­tant to ad­mit the enor­mity of the task,” said Robert Jones re­cently. No one per­son has played as large a role in our smaller success than Jones, the out­go­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of An­nie’s List, a group ded­i­cated to elect­ing Demo­cratic women. Though the 2010 tea party flood wiped out many of his gains, Jones leaves his job af­ter seven years with a Hous­ton mayor, Sen. Davis, and sev­eral state rep­re­sen­ta­tives ow­ing their jobs partly to his work.

Jones says what Democrats have been do­ing in tar­geted House races needs to be ap­plied statewide. “Now we’ve just got to take it to a grand scale,” he said.

It’s true that if cur­rent pat­terns hold that Democrats will start win­ning statewide as our grow­ing His­panic pop­u­la­tion be­comes in­creas­ingly old enough to vote. But cur­rent pat­terns never hold (re­mem­ber when West Vir­ginia was a blue state and Vir­ginia was red?), and even if they do, this won’t hap­pen pro­posed a 2016 Sarah Palin pres­i­den­tial can­di­dacy. Brooks and Will would have a good laugh, as I did, if they would waste their time read­ing it. The com­men­tary did not in­clude a sin­gle qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the most im­por­tant of­fice in the world, only a litany of what a great can­di­date she’d make.

In­cluded in her can­di­date “qual­i­fi­ca­tions” were pearls like: “Men love Sarah Palin, and she loves men.” Allen also felt com­pelled to make de­mean­ing, snarky, high school digs at an ex­traor­di­nar­ily ac­com­plished Hil­lary Clin­ton by re­fer­ring, in­cred­i­bly, to her hair-do, which, Allen says, makes Hil­lary “look like Brunnhilde in a small­town Wag­ner pro­duc­tion.”

Fee be­ing mis­used

I am a teacher in Pflugerville liv­ing with mul­ti­ple sclero­sis. MS is a chronic and of­ten de­bil­i­tat­ing disease of the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, and heat can greatly ex­ac­er­bate symp­toms. I en­joy the cooler fall weather as it al­lows me to spend more time out­doors, but I am con­cerned about those with MS and other chronic dis­eases who can­not af­ford to cool their homes in the sum­mer.

Most Tex­ans pay a small fee on their util­ity bill ev­ery month in­tended to help low­in­come in­di­vid­u­als pay their elec­tric bills. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of the fund­ing is in­stead be­ing used to help bal­ance the Texas bud­get. I’m fol­low­ing dis­cus­sions about trans­parency in the Texas bud­get, and I urge leg­is­la­tors to use the funds col­lected

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