Thursday, November 4, 2010

What now for Texas Democrats?

Charles Kuffner, the dean of InterLeft blogging and "Houston's Sexiest Blogger"* made an interesting comment in his election review yesterday:
I don’t mean to be indelicate, but party chairs usually don’t survive results like these. I hope whoever succeeds Boyd Ritchie has a strategy in mind.
Like Mr. Kuffner, I assume Ritchie is gone. Unless you're Harris County Republicans (and Jared Woodfill) the idea that the person in charge of a political drubbing should hang around is probably not a winning strategy.**

I don't pretend to be an insider on Democratic State political wrangling so I've no idea who might be a suitable replacement. Were I a Democrat however I would think about picking someone from Dallas, because the Austin-centric model has not been working out very well. It will also be interesting to see if Gary Birnberg survives as the HCDP leader. As bad as it was Statewide, Harris County Democrats lost all of their hard-fought gains.

Another question that I have is this: What's going to happen to Matt Angle? If you're not familiar with Mr. Angle, and his influence in State Democratic politics, read this overview by Evan from Rick Perry vs. World.

In short, Angle was brought in to implement the Colorado Model, which (for now) failed. By failed I mean "didn't succeed in turning Texas Blue". Where they did succeed is in recruiting high-dollar donors, namely Steve Mostyn, who (by some accounts) spent upward of $10 Million in the current election cycle and now has nothing to show for it. Will this loss short-circuit fund-raising efforts in the future? Will big-time donors think twice before pouring personal fortunes into campaigns that are unlikely to break 40%? Tough questions for Democrats that will need answers in the future.

Another area of success is in the establishment of what I'm calling "news-ish" organizations. The Texas Independent, The Texas Observer and (most successfully) The Texas Tribune**** all were established to report progressive issues as "news" alongside a mix of straight stories which serve to drive the political narrative and provide fodder for InterLeft bloggers and commenters across the State. It was a Texas Tribune*** story that I linked to regarding the failure of the Texas Trust, a story that allowed Angle to put his own spin on the loss FWIW.

Going forward all of these questions will need hard answers if Texas Democrats are going to remain a serious player Texas Politics in the near future. They also must address issues relating to their appeal to moderates and reigning in, or reducing the importance of, some of their more extreme players. It's never a wise strategy to insult the electorate before asking for their vote.

For my part I hope the Democrats succeed. Right now Texas is dangerously lacking a strong counter voice to uber-corporatist politicians like Dan Patrick. There needs to be a strong voice that speaks up for the other side. One party wielding too much power is a recipe for disaster. It should be an interesting drama to watch unfold.

*Thanks to Slampo for the moniker

**You KNOW Woodfill is going to try and take credit for this win. Despite the fact that none of it is attributable to anything he did.

***Of all of those "news-ish" outlets, I consider the Trib to be closest to a legitimate news source. They have areas where they really excel in reporting. I was expecting more from their election coverage, but the fickleness of web-servers dealt them a bad hand. Their coverage of the Lege is typically second to none. Their biggest coup was their hour-long interviews with each Goober candidate. It singlehandedly rendered the newspaper editorial board interview moot and was the closest thing Texans got to a debate. For that reason alone they deserve to be taken seriously and their content is meaningful.

****It should be noted that these three media organizations are, by all appearances, not connected. Except in mission, which they all share. Right now I don't know who is donating to their operations (something I'm looking for) so I'll say they're not financially related at this time.

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