Monday, January 21, 2013

Why Texas Democrats (and the Houston Chronicle) lose.

Back in late 2012 when they announced the creation of HoustonChronicle.com the press release was full of the usual bluster about "deep analysis, enterprise reporting, exclusive photos, and the work of your favorite columnists". It was hailed as being a new frontier in local journalism.  As is often the case with Chronblog, they've botched the execution.  Instead of enterprise reporting they often run wire reports behind the pay wall (which can be had for free online elsewhere) and a host of things that just don't seem to add much value or that would cause a non-dead tree subscriber to part with their hard earned money that came as part of their smaller paychecks in 2013.

Now the Chron has a new problem, what's behind the pay wall ($$$) can, at times, be found for free, on their sister publications.  In short, you can either pay the Chronicle money to read Patricia Kilday-Hart's column on Texas politics or you can jump over to MySA.com and get it for free. Tough choice. (by "tough" I mean "not tough in the slightest")

Of slightly more interest is what's in the column in the first place.  And, because one of my new year's goals was to be nicer to local media, I encourage you to head over and read Ms. Kilday-Hart's report on the rumored Republican goings-on for 2014.

Her column, and other stories focused on the 2014 races are almost exclusively right-handed. You know that there are going to be quite the Republican primary battles for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, Attorney-General, Agriculture Commissioner, Land Commissioner etc. but you hear nothing about what Texas Democrats are planning.  They have to be planning something am I right?

Sure, there are rumors of a Draft Castro campaign bubbling up from the Bexar County Democrats, but we've seen how these "draft anyone" campaign's have gone before, and we've also seen how running a progressive mayor in a statewide race against a well-funded Republican conservative has worked as well. *cough*Bill White*cough*.  In fact, it could be that their insistence on 'drafting' and 'fighting' are hurting the Democrats because it leaves voters with the impression their candidates are similar in nature to the virgin sacrifices offered to Dragons in fantasy novels.  Sure, they're running, but it's to be kicking and screaming while tied to the alter rather than charging out with swords drawn and "fighting" to the finish.  Not helping this impression is the fact that Bexar Democratic Party Chairman and instigator of the draft movement, Manuel Medina, owns a polling company...in Panama.  If anything screams "lord of the manor sending out the peasantry" more than that it's probably named George Soros.

The sad thing for Texas Democrats is that not drafting a candidate, and relying on the "Oh why the hell not" candidate often results in embarrassing results.  In 2011/2012 an angry Houston Area progressive seriously floated the idea of drafting actor Tommy Lee Jones to run against Ted Cruz in the US Senate race. Not surprisingly, this fired up other angry, Houston area progressives and a tiny movement was born.  Sadly, those tens of angry, Houston-area progressives couldn't convince Mr. Jones to run and the Democrats were saddled with Paul Sadler. Underfunded and hopelessly out of touch with the Texas electorate his campaign reminded Texas political wonks of the massive campaign failures of Chris Bell (of Ring the Bell! and "Moonshot for Texas Education" fame) and Rick Noriega (You're saying "who???").  At least it wasn't as bad as the quote stealing and "Big Oil, I'm coming for you!!!" amateur-hour campaigning exhibited by David Van Os, who tried to channel Jim Hightower only to remind everyone that Hightower wasn't all that good of a candidate, politician, or particularly funny for that matter.

Now I realize that, if you're a Texas Democrat, you are reading this and are thinking that I'm making fun of you and being unreasonably harsh.  And yes, I am making fun of you in the same vein that I poke fun at Shelley Sekula-Gibbs on the Republican side.  But I don't think that I'm being unreasonably harsh here.  The fact is that you've fallen asleep on the job when it comes to finding and placing qualified candidates on the state wide ballot and I'm a firm believer that the lack of honest competition is bringing down the quality of my side as well.  We're getting to the point in Texas that anyone who can spell their name and put an (R) behind it has a decent chance, if they survive the primary, of scoring a 14 point win over the virgin sacrifices that your leadership is placing on the statewide ballot.  I don't care how you look at it, that's not good for Texas.

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