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January 22, 2004

Huston-Tillotson YD's Rally

By Byron LaMasters

This evening I spoke at a rally at Huston-Tillotson College in East Austin. Huston-Tillotson College is a historically African-American College (although open to all races) which recently chartered a Texas Young Democrats chapter. Being the regional director for the area, I helped them get all the resources they needed, so their president, Andrew Bucknell invited me to speak at the rally. It was quite an honor to be up there speaking with a lot of elected officials. I just spoke for a few minutes about how young people have been getting involved recently. I used the evidence of how thousands of young people descended upon Iowa to support their candidate in the Iowa caucuses and how we've established a lot of new TYD chapters in the previous months as examples. I added that young people can't afford to not get involved - when our president lies about going to war, when our leaders in the legislature tell us they didn't raise taxes, yet they taxed every college student in the state of Texas with tuition deregulation, and then with redistricting - that it is a disgrace that in my 8 minute bike ride to campus every day I now travel through three congressional districts. I went on to tell the students that they could make a difference. That there were seven presidential campaigns and a whole lot of local candidates that could use their help in the primary and that we would need their help to have our countywide slate again sweep Travis County. I also put in a plug for our two state rep. candidates against Republican incumbents here in Travis County: Kelly White and Mark Strama.

Speaking of Mark Strama, he was at the event, and I had a chance to talk to him for a little while. He's also got his webpage up and running. If you have some money to donate, he has a PayPal account set up. Strama is running against Jack Stick who was elected in 2002 for the first time. Stick represents North Austin, yet voted for the congressional redistricting map that divided Travis County into three congressional districts, of which none has a majority of its voters residing in Travis County. It is very possible, that Travis County will have no hometown representative in Congress next year, and that would be devestating for us. Anyway, Strama is looking for volunteers, so get in touch with the campaign if you're interested. His race is likely to be one of the party's targetted races in the fall and Strama probably has about the best chance of any of our challengers to knock off a Republican incumbent.

There was an interesting subtext to the event as well. Originally Lloyd Doggett was going to attend, and then Leticia Hinojosa (his primary opponent in the new 25th) was interested (although not originally invited). State Rep. Dawnna Dukes spoke at the rally as Doggett's surrogate, and said how Doggett had fought for Huston-Tillotson and for Austin and it was critical that we re-elected him. Next to speak was State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos (who has endorsed Hinojosa). He spoke of the redistricting fight and said that redistricting would have been stopped if it were not for the "traitor" John Whitmire. Harsh words, but I agree. He spoke of how Austin was split, but didn't mention Doggett or Hinojosa. I think he was scared to mention it. Doggett's been such an advocate and fighter for Austin, and Barrientos knows that he really doesn't have much of a chance convincing Austinites to vote for someone else. He blew a lot of political capitol endorsing Hinojosa and I think that he knows it.

It was good to see all of them. State Rep. Elliott Naishtat had a good speech (which I had heard before), and State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez spoke as well, as did County Commissioner Ron Davis (who is in a tough re-election fight with Celia Israel, who I met for coffee back in the fall and agreed to support).

I also got to talk to Dana DeBeauvoir, the Travis County Clerk for a little bit. She was there to show off the new E-Slate Voting Machines. I asked her who had the most difficulty with the new machines. It was interesting that she said that it was not elderly people who tended to like the larger print, not having to worry about chads or small bubble-in forms and the ability to look over their votes before they cast them. Young people also had little trouble with the new machines. Rather, it was middle-aged people in their forties or so that were technically challenged that had the most trouble with the machines. Interesting...

I also sat next to Gisela Triana, who I'm supporting in her primary for 200th District Court. She's a very talented, articulate, attractive up-and-comer in the party. Her primary opponent is Jan Soifer, and has a lot establishment support such as Ann Richard's endorsement, but did work as an attorney defending the 2001 Republican Legislative Redistricting map that helped Republicans win control of the state house. She says that she only did procedural work such as consolidating lawsuits and all, and that she basically had to do the work, or quit her job with her law firm. Fine, but I'll go with the solid Democrat who is a rising star in our party. Triana was born in Miami to Cuban-American immigrants and grew up as a Republican, but she quickly learned the error of her ways and has been a solid Democrat for her entire adult career. This race, I think, will boil down to a classic establishment versus the grassroots battle with the grassroots winning. Go Gisela Triana!

As the endorsement meetings approach, I'll post my recomendations for all of the local races here in Austin. There's still a few races where I haven't yet made up my mind, such as the Sheriff's race, where I'm not really familiar with any of the candidates in the primary to succeed Margo Fraiser who is retiring. I think that I'll try and make it to the Greg Hamilton Open House next Wednesday to check him out, as he is the candidate that Fraiser has endorsed, and someone I knew from a few other campaigns who is working for him tried selling him to me tonight. I'll see. I was a little turned off to see that Hamilton had been someone in the TABC which I'm not a big fan of. I think that a lot of our alcohol laws are rather dumb, but the legislature is probably more to blame than the TABC. I'll probably support Hamilton, who's the establishment choice and will probably win, but I'd like to know more about him first.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at January 22, 2004 12:25 AM | TrackBack


*cough* fighted?

Posted by: chrisken at January 22, 2004 12:45 AM

Whoops... it's been corrected.

Posted by: Byron L at January 22, 2004 10:34 AM
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