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September 24, 2003

What Our Next Chair Should Look Like...

By Andrew Dobbs

So I didn't get in on the blog burst action, simply because I was very busy and I felt that most of what should be said has already been said by others in a much better way. I still would like to weigh in on the issue of who our state party chair ought to be so I decided to post on what the qualifications should be and who might fit those standards. I think that this new leader will be very integral in the direction our party takes over the next several years and in 2004 in particular as they will be chair at least until June of next year.

First and most importantly the person who is chosen must be a new face to the party, someone who is either young or at least not someone who's been around forever but someone who is willing to push the party in a new, positive direction. Frankly, I'd say that this qualification alone dropkicks Jim Mattox (who is way too conservative for my tastes anyways), Carl Parker and Garry Mauro right outta there. David Van Os is pushing it. He's 53 and has been active since the 70s, and is pretty establishment-ish, but he seems to have the kind of vitality that these two don't, but I think others would be better. Kirk Watson has got to be in his 40s but he looks a lot younger and acts even younger than that. Sherry Boyles is only 31 and rocks my world and Garnet Coleman is young and tells Patrick Rose to "stop kissing Craddick's motherfucking ass" in public. That's what I call fresh!

Secondly, I think that we need someone progressive with a history of activity in the progressive movements (civil rights, abortion rights, feminism, gay rights, labor, environmentalism, etc.) because it was the lazy, corrupt, reactionary and short-sighted reputation of the overgrown Texas Democratic Party that gave the GOP an opening here and throughout the South. In 1961 when John Tower was elected to the US Senate as the first Republican elected statewide here since Reconstruction he won because all the liberals voted for him over the reactionary put up by the Dems. That's only one example but it highlights the kind of breaking point that a lot of moderate and liberal people faced where they either switched to the GOP or stopped voting in the first place. I think that this means goodbye to Jim Mattox and Carl Parker, both too conservative for this important position. Hello Watson, Boyles, Van Os and Coleman.

Thirdly, we really ought to recognize the achievements of underrepresented classes of people, our party's base, with the chairpersonship. That really leaves Boyles (a woman) and Coleman (an African American) to vie for the spot. Either would be phenomenal and I'll leave it at that.

Finally, we need someone who has won races, or at least come close, and can raise money and organize. Watson probably takes the cake on this one, though Coleman runs a political consulting firm and is the only one of those three currently holding office (though Watson was the popular mayor of Austin for several years). Boyles, god bless her, has never been elected to anything and did about the same as everyone else in 2002 in her race for Railroad Commissioner- 41.5%. Albeit the incumbent is kinda popular (Michael Williams, a black Republican gets paraded by the GOP as their idea of "diversity.") and it was a down ballot race in a year when Democrats were not held in terribly high regard, she still got thumped. Watson did about as well. Watson can raise money though, and he has been elected mayor of a major city. Still, I think that the statewide exposure this position will bring is the kind of push that would really set Sherry Boyles up for good things in the future.

So there we have it- Watson, Coleman and Boyles. They each have at least one thing really going for them- Watson has money and organizing skills, Coleman has progressive cred out the wazoo and Boyles is young and energetic. Any of them would be great and any of the others (with the possible exception of David Van Os, though his record is a little shaky) are pretty bad. Call your SDEC members soon so we can get this party rolling!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at September 24, 2003 01:39 AM | TrackBack


Andrew, what's your take on Houston City Council member Carol Alvarado, who has expressed some interest in the chairmanship?

Posted by: Charles Kuffner at September 24, 2003 12:00 PM

Albeit the incumbent is kinda popular (Michael Williams, a black Republican gets paraded by the GOP as their idea of "diversity.")

Your bigotry against non-liberal minorities is quite shameless, Andrew.

Posted by: Mark Harden at September 24, 2003 01:42 PM

Remind me again who continues to fight against equal-rights for minorities of all types more consistantly than anyone else? Oh that's right, the soul of the Republican Party.

Posted by: Karl-T at September 24, 2003 10:25 PM

who continues to fight against equal-rights for minorities of all types more consistantly than anyone else?

Examples would be nice, Karl.

Posted by: Mark Harden at September 25, 2003 07:17 AM

To be sure, the party needs vision, but not at the expense of instutional knowledge. Let's have an interum chair who knows where we have been. We have alot of work ahead. First, we have to understand how this happned. Second, we have to start building a structure to communicate our message in areas we are failing. Third, we map out where we are going. This battle is as much about infrastructure of the party as about where it is headed. I say we should look to an "old timer" for a transation. Then to someone like Watson. How about Mauro? What's he been up to?

Posted by: jack at September 25, 2003 08:18 AM

I love Garnet Coleman. He would be great - smart and energetic. Sherry doesn't have as high a profile, although she's been involved with the D party for awhile and is well connected. Also smart and energetic. I don't know Watson, only what I read in the paper while he was mayor, but seems very competent. I agree any of the three would be a good choice, but I think Coleman or Watson are heavier hitters at this point (sorry Sherry).

Posted by: hope at September 25, 2003 08:50 AM

"... I think that we need someone progressive with a history of activity in the progressive movements (civil rights, abortion rights, feminism, gay rights, labor, environmentalism, etc.) because it was the lazy, corrupt, reactionary and short-sighted reputation of the overgrown Texas Democratic Party that gave the GOP an opening here and throughout the South."


Couple of bones to pick here ... if the Democratic Party is to be the party of the very topics you mention, then we will be resigned to being a minority party, if not placed on the endangered species list. One of the points I echoed on my own blogburst was one made by Zell Miller (admittedly, the mere name may not incite joy, but hear it out): that the issues we choose to speak about say more than the merits of the ideas themselves. That should be rather obvious. So why haven't we offered a better vision for national security? ... why haven't we put forth a bolder agenda on building a more robust economy?

In other words, if we as a party think the most driving issues are those that you list, then we will be doomed when the nation lists terrorism, defense, foreign affairs, etc as top issues. Even by the time you get to the economy, our party would be swamped out because there's nothing inherent in those causes that leads to a solid, coherent economic philosophy.

The old guard may well have had its faults - no argument there. But moving to a "Trust Nobody Over 30" type of mindset is not a panacea. At moments such as this, I wouldn't mind hearing what Bob Slagle has to say about getting the party back to a competitive standpoint. It wasn't the fault of the old guard that the tidelands issue of the 50s, the Civil Rights laws of the 60s, and the McGovern campaign of 1972 drove this party to the point where it is. To some degree, we should have welcomed the exodus of some - particularly those irate over the Civil Rights laws being passed. But the others had an effect also.

Like it or not, there aren't enough environmentalists, abortion rights activists, civil rights activists, etc ... to warrant 50%+1. The party has to be more open minded to the point we don't lose more mainstream voters.

Posted by: Greg Wythe at September 25, 2003 10:16 AM

I've been saying that for years Greg.

Posted by: pc at September 26, 2003 01:22 PM
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