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October 27, 2003

Soechting Starts with Fire

By Byron LaMasters

Personally, I was surprised and a little dissappointed about Charles Soechting's election as chair of the Texas Democratic Party, however, I'm certainly pleased with his rhetoric in the past day. The Austin American Statesman reports:

Soechting criticized state government's Republican leadership -- Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick -- as "deceitful, deceitful people."


Soechting's aggressive style, which has helped make him a successful trial lawyer, includes bold predictions and challenging rhetoric.

"The simple fact is, we are going to get after the rats that have run things into the ground in this state and this nation for too long," he told committee members after the vote.

Soechting told reporters that Texas voters would reject President Bush next year and give the state's electoral votes to the Democratic ticket.

"I believe it. I know it, because George Bush keeps helping us so much. The economy, the war, there's a multitude of reasons. The simple fact is we can do it," he said, adding Democrats have a chance at winning statewide races next year.


The new chairman's blunt style was on display in Austin on Friday and Saturday as he campaigned toward victory.

On Saturday, he blamed Bush for the nation's economic woes.

In a Friday speech to the nominations subcommittee, Soechting was even more aggressive, questioning Bush's National Guard service.

"He is a dodger. You can't call him anything but that," Soechting said, referring to an unresolved controversy concerning whether Bush ever failed to report for duty while in the National Guard.

After the Friday speech, Soechting said the dodger reference had been made in a joking manner.

Amen. That's what we need. More people willing to tell the truth and attack Bush and the Republican Party directly. As for the vote totals, the Statsman has the details:

Soechting (pronounced seck-ting) picked up 34 votes, one more than needed for victory, on the second ballot after state Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston dropped out after the first ballot. Mauro had 23 second-ballot votes out of a total of 63 votes.

Soechting, who had 28 votes to Mauro's 22 in the first ballot, picked up seven of the eight votes Coleman had received. San Antonio lawyer David Van Os and Bryan accountant Mary Moore also ran.

Mauro, however, plans to run for state chair next year:

Soechting, who will serve as interim chairman, plans to seek a full two-year term during the Democrats' state convention in June. Mauro said he also will run at the convention.

"If he shows some stuff, I'll reconsider," Mauro, the Democrats' unsuccessful 1998 gubernatorial candidate, said of Soechting. "Anybody that can deliver the goods, I'm for."

But Mauro also said, "Talk is cheap."

Hmmm.... I'd like more choices, personally, but I'm willing to give Soechting a chance. I'd disagree with Andrew that Soechting's election was a result of "the forces of cronyism, institutional short-sightedness and a desire to run our party into the ground once and for all". I do think that there was a genuine "anti-Mauro" vote at the SDEC. It's clear to me from the fact that seven of the eight votes for Garnett Coleman on the first ballot went to Soechting on the second ballot (evidence of an anti-Mauro sentiment). I'd like to meet the guy and see what he wants to do. Maybe we'll be able to get him to come to a University Democrats meeting in the next month or so. Hopefully. We'll see. I just wish that someone like Sherry Boyles or Kirk Watson or David Bernsen (who all have the ability to unite the progressive and moterate/conservative/establishment wings of the party) would have run. Oh well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at October 27, 2003 12:36 AM | TrackBack


I'm willing to give Soechting a chance, to see what he can do.

The only rhetoric I'd fault him for is his reference to the GOP as "rats": rats are hardwired to be what they are, and have no choice; Republicans, by contrast, do what they do by conscious choice. The comparison should be offensive to any self-respecting rat.

Posted by: Steve Bates at October 27, 2003 10:25 AM

Let me just say that I think that saying that Bush is going to lose Texas is a bit unrealisitic and only makes the Democrats look even more clueless than we already do on a statewide level and secondly that he shouldn't have tried to make his draft-dodger comment less meaningful by writing it off as a joke. I will say that this story caught my eye as well and that it made me feel a little better about things. Finally, casting your vote for Soechting just because he isn't Mauro is the kind of short-sighted bullshit that threatens to send our party the way of the Whigs and Greenbacks. We need someone with as much fire but a little more independence of the failures of the last 6 years, i.e. Garnet Coleman or any of the other people you mentioned a minute ago. Oh well, here's hoping he'll make it to a UDem meeting so I can ask him some questions myself.

Posted by: Andrew D at October 27, 2003 11:49 AM

Andrew, I have to agree. Don't promise what you can't deliver; don't predict things that just won't happen; and never ever answer hypothetical questions (or shake a baby).

That said, I think Soechting is clearly going to mark a new and interesting period in Democratic Party history.

Posted by: Jim D at October 27, 2003 08:03 PM

Hello Andrew and others, this is Charles. If you want to meet me, get ready. I am the Chair and if you are as sick and tired as I am of the lies that the Republicans have told you need to do more than get online and gripe. You need to work with us. Our office number is 478-9800 and we are looking for volunteers. I have monitored your concerns during this election and understand your frustration, it's natural to be frustrated. Change is here and we are ready for your help. Thanks, Charles Soechting, Chair, Texas Democratic Party.

Posted by: Charles S. at October 27, 2003 08:03 PM

Well... until you start believing that Bush can be beat in Texas, he never will be. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to accept the status quo. I agree energies should be focused on attainable goals, but to simply write off goals that may seem a little out of reach can't be a good strategy... (that's just the humble opinion of someone who has never been involved in politics before)

Posted by: Jason Young at October 27, 2003 09:57 PM


Thanks for responding!

I am worried.The war is going well in Iraq AND the economy is on the upswing. What are we going to do as Democrats if those two issues are no longer viable for us? How can we hope to grow our party when we are so damn angry all the time? That will only get us so far.

Posted by: Terry G at December 18, 2003 10:25 PM
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