I’ve been asked more questions about politics at work in the last week then I have in the last decade. Generally speaking they’re people that don’t vote and are wondering how someone like Dan Patrick, in particular, was able to get elected. In a mostly nice way I try and explain that’s what happens when 30% of the registered voters show up to vote. Then they fall silent.
It was disheartening to listen to the vapid regurgitation of GOP talking points from our new Governor and Lt. Governor. Snarky comments abounded as my coworkers watched the proceedings. Most think Patrick is unqualified for the job, and his religious talk scared them. And Abbott is not a good speaker. But again, they don’t vote, and they wonder how this happened. I get the sense that they never thought it was possible for someone like him to get elected no who did or didn’t vote.
But now they’ve realized they’re going to have to live with this for 4 years and they’re starting to ask questions. The sad part is I’m still not sure they’ll vote in the next election. One thing I do know as I talk about the issues with them, they any tax cut won’t effect them. They no longer see their pay rise, and the cost of everything – except gas recently – continues to rise. They see the rich getting richer and the rest of us struggling. And they don’t see good things ahead for their children, and they believe neither political party is on their side.
Which is why this article piqued my interest, Why Elizabeth Warren Strikes Such a Chord.
It seems like just about everyone these days is talking about Elizabeth Warren. I saw Jay Leno -not a very political guy or especially progressive- the other day on Bill Maher’s show, talking about how shocked he was that Elizabeth Warren was only 18 months younger than Hilary because of how vital and energetic she seemed. A focus group of swing voters, who traditionally don’t follow politics very closely, in Colorado a couple of weeks back were disdainful of the politicians they had heard of like Jeb Bush and Hillary who were likely running for president, but loved what they were hearing about Elizabeth Warren. The Sunday “Doonesbury” this weekend was a plea to “run, Lizzie, run” because “she hears the voices no one else hears”. The Washington Post print addition on Sunday had a front page article whose headline asked “What does Elizabeth Warren want?”
Why is a first-term Senator in the minority party, a wonky college professor who had never held elective office before 2013, a woman who insists to everyone who asks that she is not running for president, striking such a chord in American politics right now? Why are hundreds of thousands of people and some of the biggest organizations in American politics begging her to run for president despite her apparent lack of interest? Where did she get the political power to stop the president’s political nominations and almost bring down budget bills that seemed destined for easy bi-partisan passage? Why is the media obsessed with her?
As great as Elizabeth Warren is (and she is), I think the chord she strikes has at least as much to do with the moment we are in as to who she is. I think most Americans in both parties have come to believe that government is too bought off by big money special interests to care about them anymore. They are worn down by an economic system that doesn’t seem to reward working hard and playing by the rules, in Bill Clinton’s famous words, anymore; and they are cynical that the establishment politicians in both parties seem disconnected to the real world of no wage increases and rising costs of necessities. Elizabeth Warren excites people so much because she actually seems like she knows what is going in everyday people’s lives, and because she seems like she will take on the powers that be in both party to fight on their behalf. That is so refreshing to voters and activists alike, and it is turning Elizabeth into an icon that people respond to. She calls “Charge!” on a nomination fight for a position that no one has ever heard of, or a legislative fight that they weren’t even aware of, and people answer the call because they trust her- they know in their hearts that she is fighting for them.
The large numbers of activists and voters who follow Elizabeth know she is not only smart and tough, but trustworthy to the core. And in this cynical age of politics, where big money and rank partisanship seems to drive everything in DC, having someone you can trust to fight for you, to be on your side rather than on big money’s side, creates a loyalty and a passion that is powerful.
Beyond those policy proposals, which would go a long way in making our economy work far better for working people in this country, there’s a simple answer: she wants a country where we invest in all of our people, and where everyday folks get the rewards for working hard and playing by the rules. She wants a country where the government is on the side of working people rather than just the wealthiest individuals and biggest businesses.
There a millions of Texans and Americans who want a party or just a bunch of their fellow citizens to fix our rigged political system. They will support those who will fight for it. Those, like our new Governor and Lt. Gov., who are for more of the same will not inspire them to get out and vote. The opportunity is there, my hope is that some politicians in Texas will start talking and acting like Elizabeth Warren.
Here are statements from Progress Texas and Texas Forward on today’s inauguration.
The Texas Progressive Alliance commemorates the life of Martin Luther King Jr. today and welcomes any progress on moving his Dream closer to reality.
Off the Kuff offers some thoughts on emphasizing local elections for the next cycle or two.
lightseeker, back from his sabbatical at Texas Kaos, re-examines the state of the Democratic Party and the need for and challenges to grow its voter base, in The Great Progressivism Debate, Part I.
WCNews at Eye on Williamson grimaces at the taste of the rotten fruit of one party rule in Texas. See the corruption inherent in the system?
Texas Leftist kicked off his coverage of the 84th Legislative Session with a new blog series. Big Government Texas is a catalogue of the endless hypocrisy demonstrated by Texas’ TEApublican CONservative leaders. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the series.
Texas Republicans clearly love their cronies’ profits more than they care about the safety of our workers. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme mourns along with those missing an actual fighter for workers and Texas children.
Handicapping the race for Houston mayor this early in the cycle is a dirty job, but PDiddie at Brains and Eggs did it anyway.
Bluedaze asks North Texans to make their voices heard at the EPA public hearing in Arlington on the proposed guidelines for controlling ozone.
Neil at All People Have Value — perhaps suffering a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder — ruefully observes that since nobody voted in 2014, nobody really cares about what happens in Austin in 2015.
Texpate made a prediction about this summer’s Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Dos Centavos wants to remind everyone that there is, again, no Tejano band playing on Go Tejano Day at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs:
TFN Insider and Texas Watch join in bidding Rick Perry a very fond “Adios, mofo”.
Christopher Hooks at the Texas Observer details the unannounced reasons why Leticia Van de Putte is running for mayor of San Antonio.
Juanita Jean explains what “local control” really means.
The Lunch Tray highlights Ag Commissioner Sid Miller’s grandstanding on “cupcake amnesty”.
Better Texas Blog lays out its legislative priorities.
CeCe Cox wants rationality to win out over fear-mongering in Plano.
Bill Kelly of Mental Health America of Greater Houston has his maiden blog post up, welcoming the Texas Lege back into session. Minding Houston will be an advocate for policy supporting the mental health care system in Texas.
Grits for Breakfast shares a SAEN op-ed that implores the Lege to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act by raising the age of criminal culpability.
Lone Star Ma bemoans the STAAR requirements.
Newsdesk eulogizes Linda Bridges, president of the American Federation of Teachers chapter in Texas, who died unexpectedly last week.
Socratic Gadfly shares his best blog posts of 2014.
Fascist Dyke Motors has the second part of what’s inside your head.
Trail Blazers takes note of the Dallas DREAMer invited to sit in the First Lady’s box at the State of the Union address tomorrow night.
Finally, the TPA wishes Paul Burka all the best as he begins the next chapter of his life.
With every boom comes a bust, and it looks like the bust is coming, Texas oil boom heading for bust in a hurry; downturn may be prolonged.
It is a sharp turnaround for the Texas oil industry, which in just five years tripled its production and drove hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy.
For decades Texas oil had slowly been disappearing from the world market. The big companies were chasing oil buried under ocean floors off the coasts of Russia and Nigeria and in thick, tar-like crude in western Canada. Then came advances in hydraulic fracturing and the shale drilling revolution. Suddenly, what had been considered third-rate fields in Texas’ Eagle Ford and Permian Basin became some of the most sought-after prospects in the world.
Now concern is deepening that the U.S. oil industry is entering what could be a sustained downturn.
“It’s going to be devastating. For all practical purposes we lowered the barrier to entry so low that every Tom, Dick and Harry could go out and rent a rig,” said Fadel Gheit, a managing director with the investment firm Oppenheimer & Co. “The longer prices stay down, the more companies are throwing in the towel. We will see a lot more pain before we get any gain.”[Emphasis added]
Of course, no one really know what’s going to happen. The consensus seems to be that it won’t be good. And the boom towns in South Texas may turn into ghost towns.
In the Eagle Ford, everyone is on edge waiting for layoffs to begin. Mike King, who runs a workers’ camp in Carrizo Springs, south of San Antonio, said Thursday that he was still above 75 percent capacity but was worried it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
“There’s so much speculation. It’s hard to know what reality is,” he said. “When this stuff changes, it changes rapidly. This afternoon I could get a call from one of our clients that all our guys are out of here, we lost our contract.”
For now, economists are preaching that a downturn in production will not have the same devastating impact it had on the Texas economy in the 1980s. Then, the wave of defaults on loans to oil companies sent a shock wave through the finance sector, forcing the closure of seven of the state’s 10 largest commercial banks.
The economy is more diversified now, said Mine Yücel, director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. And the flip side of low crude prices — cheap gasoline — is expected to boost consumer spending.
Even so, less demand for pipes and drilling equipment would threaten recent industrial expansion along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Already U.S. Steel has announced it is laying off 142 workers at a pipe-finishing plant in Houston.
One thing that came to mind while reading this is that while Texas is more diversified then it once was, there’s still going to be much pain for those in the oil industry. And Texas isn’t known for it’s social services and helping people who are in need. So those who lose their jobs will not get help for very long.
So while the state may not be in for really bad recession overall, some Texans are in for a world of hurt and their government is likely to care little about helping them.
When one party runs it all for an extended period of time this kind of thing happens.
Whitmire cited reported conflicts of interest within Janek’s office and a Statesman investigation that revealed an official in that office skirted procurement laws as he steered millions to 21CT, an Austin data analytics company hired to aid in Medicaid fraud investigations.
That official, Jack Stick, resigned under pressure Dec. 12 from his job of chief counsel for the agency. The next week, his former boss, Inspector General Doug Wilson, also resigned.
Three officials were placed on administrative leave with pay: Erica Stick, Jack Stick’s wife and Janek’s chief of staff; Frianita Wilson, the wife of Doug Wilson and contract manager in the Department of Family and Protective Services; and Cody Cazares, Jack Stick’s chief of staff whose salary more than doubled in three years.
In the same office, Casey Haney, who worked for Janek when he was a senator, received $97,000 in advance for an MBA program at the University of Texas. Patricia Vojack, a deputy executive commissioner, received $37,000 for a graduate degree. Both payments violated state policy.
The newspaper has asked for updates on those employees and their status with the commission, but agency spokesperson Stephanie Goodman has not returned calls.
On Thursday, the Statesman reported that Janek had sought a meeting with House Speaker Joe Straus late last year to discuss 21CT. Straus is on a key legislative panel that was poised to approve a $90 million contract extension with 21CT. It’s not clear if Janek was pushing for the contract approval after the Statesman first began raising questions about the contract in mid-November.
No bid contracts and no oversight. No politician wants those in their party to get in trouble…it makes them all look bad.
And this, Perry veto killed investigation into no-bid contract at DPS, certainly makes outgoing GOP Gov. Rick Perry actions – for which he’s been indicted – look even worse.
A year and a half before a no-bid state contract collapsed in scandal last month, a criminal investigation into tens of millions of dollars worth of deals awarded through a similar process by Rick Perry’s administration was derailed by the funding veto that got the governor indicted, according to the prosecutor who led the probe.
The earlier inquiry, which concerned Texas Department of Public Safety contracts for Perry’s highly touted and controversial border-security program, lasted more than a year before abruptly shuttering, said Gregg Cox, director of the Public Integrity Unit at the Travis County District Attorney’s office.
“We lacked the resources to continue that investigation,” Cox said. “Because the staff was cut when our budget was vetoed.”
Perry vetoed $7.5 million in state funding for Cox’s office in June 2013, saying at the time he had lost confidence in District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg after she was arrested for drunken driving, pleaded guilty and spent three weeks in jail. The governor was indicted last year on abuse of office and official oppression charges, which he and his lawyers have denounced as a politically motivated farce.
Seems like less of a farce now.
And this, our soon to be Lt. Gov. appears to be learning the system pretty well, Patrick Pulled in Hefty Donations After Election.
Patrick raked in $2.6 million between October and December, with many large donations rolling in after the Nov. 4 election, including $50,000 from Dallas telecommunications billionaire Kenny Troutt, $125,000 from the Border Health PAC, $50,000 from the Kickapoo Tribe and $25,000 from the Texas Association of Realtors.
Patrick also enjoyed several lavish fundraisers: a $17,000 event thrown by HillCo, an Austin-based lobbying firm; a $10,000 event hosted by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones; and an $8,000 event given by Dallas tax consultant Brint Ryan. Heading into the 2015 legislative session, Patrick has almost $4 million in his campaign account.
Among Patrick’s other top donors are Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which gave his campaign $125,000; Julianna Holt, the wife of San Antonio businessman Peter Holt, who gave $50,000; and Houston businessman Hushang Ansary, who gave $50,000.
Several members of Patrick’s new Lieutenant Governor’s Advisory Boards also gave large contributions over the last four months. Dallas hoteliers Barry Andrews and Bob Rowling both gave $25,000, Midland oilman Tim Dunn gave $50,000, Dallas energy mogul Kelcy Warren gave $50,000, and Brint Ryan’s Ryan PAC gave $25,000.
Click here to see the full list of Patrick’s donors.
What a man of the people. I’m sure the tea party’ers in Texas see nothing wrong with Patrick becoming one the them.
One party rule, see the corruption inherent in the system?
Going into this legislative session there’s little hope of anything good coming out of it for those most in need of some good in Texas. Mainly poor, working and middle class Texans – and in that order. Maybe I’ll be surprised with such low expectations.
A day where another right wing politician tried to make a name for himself, so he can make a run for higher office in the near future, takes aim at the House Speaker and loses, by A LOT.
Next week we get to hear from our state’s new Governor and Lt. Gov, and what they have in store for us.
It’s obvious that tax breaks will take precedence over everything else. That’s what they ran on, and that’s what 60% of the 30% who showed up to vote, voted for.
There was talk of bipartisanship and working together on the first day of the legislative session. There will be working, but no much bipartisanship. The working together will be between those with the money, and their elected officials who allow taxpayer money to flow to them.
Maybe I’ve seen and been through too many of these.
The Texas Progressive Alliance is girding its loins for what is likely to be an ugly legislative session as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Off the Kuff highlights the ongoing voting rights dispute in Pasadena by showing how fallacious the city’s argument for changing to a hybrid At Large/district model for its City Council is.
Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaosand Daily Kos has heard whispers about the possibility of accepting federally expanded Medicaid in Texas. She wonders how can this be sold to far right wingers like Dan Patrick and the tea party ultra conservatives? If expanded will Medicaid be called Jesus Care or Koch Care?
As the 84th Texas Legislature prepares to convene, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says, “Kansas-sippi here we come!”
CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know what the difference is between Henry Cuellar and the Republicans who kiss Wall Street ass-ets? Really? Is there any difference?
Neil at Neil Aquino.com likes how the 1976 Walter Matthau movie Bad News Bears takes a swipe at liberalism.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Juanita is delighted by the “Louie Gohmert for Speaker” story.
Durrell Douglas tells Oprah why their movement will have no “leaders”.
Unfair Park is not a fan of the Jerry Jones-Chris Christie bromance.
The Lunch Tray interviews USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.
Texans Together examines the elements of an effective pre-K program.
The TSTA blog reminds the Legislature that its obligation is to public, not private, education.
Better Texas Blog has a cheat sheet for the biennial revenue estimate.
Texas Vox is looking for people to work with Public Citizen for the legislative session.
The Texas Progressive Alliance is still waiting for someone to invent the hoverboard as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Off the Kuff published special election candidate interviews with Diego Bernal, Trey Martinez-Fischer, and Ty McDonald.
Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos learned important lessons from her volunteer work with Battleground Texas. Battleground Texas: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. There may still be hope for Battleground Texas in Texas. But the strategy will must change, All About The Base.
Police departments all over the country have deep roots in slavery and racism, as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reminded.
CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why the Port of Brownsville is so dismissive of the Sierra Club opinion on liquefied natural gas terminals. Don’t they care about the health of the people and the environment?
Neil at All People Have Value said policymakers on both sides of the aisle knew years ago that automation and changing facts threatened blue collar jobs. Yet instead of helping everyday people, public policy was geared towards the rich instead. Neil says the work of freedom is up to each of us. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Juanita challenged us to come up with a title for Ted Cruz’s book.
LGBTQ Insider has a caveat about the FDA’s change in policy towards gay men donating blood.
Unfair Park previews the Fifth Circuit court hearing on the same sex marriage appeal.
Texans Together reviews the San Jacinto River Coalition’s accomplishments for 2014.
Nancy Sims tells the story of her transitioning daughter and her own unconditional love for her.
The Bloggess pens an open letter to the Girl Scouts.
Jonathan Guajardo asks new Bexar County DA Nico LaHood for a serious inquiry into the case of Cameron Redus, a UIW student who was fatally shot by a UIW police officer outside his apartment off campus.
Scott Braddock calls 2014 the year of Tom DeLay’s permanent Republican majority.
There was a good editorial in the SAEN yesterday, Unmet needs don’t spell tax cuts in Texas. It opens with a good description of where things stand as The Lege’s budget battle approaches.
It’s estimated that just keeping up with population growth will require $6 billion to $7 billion more in state spending on services. Much of that $5 billion is already spoken for. There remains supplemental Medicaid funding needs in the current budget. The state is appealing a court ruling that might require a revamping of state school financing, a key part of the ruling having to do with how underfunded the system is. The price of oil, taxes on which contribute much to the state budget, is on a downward spiral at the moment. And existing programs need more money than any of these extra dollars can address — likely more need than can be covered even if better-than-expected economic growth pumps in more than $5 billion extra into the budget.
In other words, unmet need atop unmet need in Texas.
So, of course, tax relief is said to be a priority for the Legislature next year. Huh?
Well, the far rights unmet need is always tax cuts. Unmet needs are in the eye on the beholder. The editorial goes on to discuss what could/should be done.
But needs cannot go unmet, and there are perhaps better ways to address this disdain for the property tax, inarguably high in Texas because it has no personal income tax. Creation of an income tax seems to be the third rail of Texas politics. It shouldn’t be.
If this incoming Legislature embarks on a path of tax relief, it must answer a few questions. Tax cuts necessarily mean less state revenue and the “extra” money won’t cover these and continuing needs. So:
Which programs will go unfunded or be under-funded? Make the case for diminishing these services, a likely result since population growth alone dictates new need. Agencies won’t be able to find enough “efficiencies” to make up shortfalls.
If the answer is to simply maintain current funding levels for various state agencies into the next biennium and crow about how no cut in funding occurred, see the question above. And explain this also in the context of the state not fully digging out of previous cuts.
If the answer is to shift money, say, for example, from the Department of Public Safety to transportation, where will the money come from to fill the hole at DPS?
There are proposals out there to increase the homestead exemption for property taxes for schools. It is currently a $15,000 exemption and legislators are talking about bumping that up to $25,000 to $30,000.
At $30,000, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, this would mean $1 billion less.
With so many needs unmet in Texas, we are skeptical of any tax cut, but an increase in the homestead exemption at least has the advantage of being progressive. This is money that will benefit low- to middle-income homeowner families. And such relief across the board can help ameliorate this strong bias in Texas against funding public services.
But the state must make schools whole, filling any shortfalls created, or this is not worth doing at all.
The editorial is great and there’s little for someone like me to quibble about. Yes, we should discuss an income tax and our needs must be met. But that’s likely to happen anyway. I’ve written words like this many times. The government that’s about to take office has no interest in anything with the word “progressive” attached to it.
I applaud the SAEN editorial board for writing this article and we need a steady chorus of this stuff over the course of years to get the message across. But anyone who thinks something like this is going to be accomplished this session needs their head examined.
An article from the DMN has a better take the fight will be over. Which tax cuts and how much will be cut, Prospects for Texas tax cuts dim as oil price drops. While the amounts may have be smaller, for now, when it comes to the folks that will be sworn in a week from Tuesday it’s still tax curs all the way.
Elated by prospects of an election romp and overflowing state coffers, some state Republican leaders suggested that significant cuts in Texas’ property and business taxes lay ahead.
But a year-ending plunge in oil prices, which help drive so much of state revenue, has tempered their optimism. Supporters are clashing over what to cut. And priorities for spending have shifted.
It all leads to downsized expectations of how much tax relief the GOP-controlled Legislature and top Republican leaders will be able to deliver in their session beginning next week, business leaders and key lawmakers say.
Even some tea party-backed conservative lawmakers say tax cut fever has cooled in recent weeks.
Tax cuts will be the key pocketbook issue in lawmakers’ five-month session. While guns, immigration and abortion are likely to generate more passion, GOP leaders’ desire to deliver at least some tax relief will drive budget decisions affecting public schools, state universities, prisons, roads and health care.
More money is needed to pay for our growing state, and all we’re likely to get is more tax cuts that will largely go to the wealthy. Money for nothing.
Here’s the Press Release:
Texas Progressive Alliance taps
Denton’s “fracktivists” Texans of the Year
In one of the organization’s more closely contested votes, the Texas Progressive Alliance — the state’s consortium of liberal blogs and bloggers — named Frack Free Denton and its diverse group of activists 2014’s Texan of the Year.”The biggest win for progressives in the Lone Star State on Election Night happened in Denton, Texas,” said Charles Kuffner, president of the Alliance. “The people showed the powerful who is still in charge. No matter that the Texas Railroad Commission or the state’s Legislature may try to undo the will of Denton’s Republican, Democratic, and independent voters; for one day in November of 2014, those North Texans came together and said, “No more. No more polluting our air and water and poisoning our children for profit without accountability. The people together spoke, and they were heard.”
There were also three Honorable Mentions for the coveted award. Finishing a close second: the medical staff of Dallas Presbyterian Hospital, who were at the front lines of the nation’s Ebola crisis, notably Dr. Kent Brantley and nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who all contracted the virus and lived to tell about it. In addition, two other large groups of Texans on either side of the political spectrum were selected: the 33% of Texans who turned out to vote in last month’s midterm elections, predominantly Caucasian male Republican voters; and the Democratic volunteer army of deputy voter registrars, blockwalkers, and those who spent long hours on their phones calling prospective voters to urge them to cast their ballots.
“To the victors go the spoils, someone famous once said,” noted Kuffner, in reference to the GOP base vote. “But no one worked any harder than the folks in their precincts, neighborhoods, counties, and across the state to turn back the tide, at least a bit,” he added.
The TPA’s member bloggers salute all the Texans who were nominated this year, which included several candidates, some elected officials, and other activist groups.
PDiddie has more commentary on the selection.
A couple of days ago the Texas Observer posted a big article on the trials and tribulations of Battleground Texas, and their relationship with the Texas Democratic Party. It’s an understatement to say that the 2014 election didn’t turnout the way either groups had hoped. The article, Losing Ground, asks the question – What’s going to happen to Battleground Texas?
The gist the article is that Battleground Texas and Texas Democrats – state and local parties – did not work together and often worked against each other. And too much time was spent trying to woo moderates and non voters while the base of the party was largely neglected.
There were problems from the very start.
As dozens of conversations with individuals associated with the party, local Democratic groups, campaigns and other progressive organizations make clear, Battleground Texas had a major part—though definitely not the only one—in contributing to Democrats’ terrible showing in November. The group, they argue, made critical and avoidable mistakes that cost candidates up and down the ticket.
Many were reluctant to talk on the record, for fear of poisoning relationships and discouraging the Democratic base. Some are still hopeful that Battleground can find a way to contribute to the coalition’s efforts in 2016 and 2018.
The picture the sources paint is more or less the same: Apart from a few counties and local races, rancor and dysfunction overtook relationships among organizations that should have been working together. Battleground was opaque in its dealings, shied from making firm commitments, negotiated with a heavy hand and was coy about its long-term goals.
One word crops up in conversations over and over: “arrogance.” A senior Texas Democrat, characterizing Battleground’s ability to manage relationships with organizations inside the Democratic coalition, put it more forcefully: “The Obama guys were never any good at politics.”
Local organizers offer diverse and specific critiques of the group’s strategy on the ground: In big cities like Dallas and Houston, Battleground used turnout models that were far too optimistic about the number of Democratic voters that would come to the polls with little prodding. In South Texas, they say, an unfamiliarity with Hispanic communities frequently tripped up the group’s organizers. In other large cities and counties, Battleground often ended up competing with well-established local parties for control of resources, such as money and volunteers.
In public statements, the Battleground’s leaders talk about the 2014 election as a speed bump—an opportunity to learn lessons before they move forward with the long-term mission. In private, the organization’s representatives have been in an apologetic mode. Time to reset, they say. But many Democrats are not swayed by conciliatory talk. Even though both sides publicly sing a song of unity, in private Battleground finds itself in a power struggle with other Democrats, many of whom want to see the party strengthened internally and fear the influence and leverage of outside groups.
Some observers wonder if Battleground’s days are numbered.
“It was doomed from the very beginning,” says one senior Democratic consultant. “It was a machine that could never have succeeded, and cannot, I think, succeed going forward.”
Others think Battleground is preparing to attach itself to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign apparatus. The bad blood and differing opinions have set off a behind-the-scenes competition for the three things that make modern campaigns tick: volunteers, money and data.
After reading the article it became apparent there is a way for Battleground to not only survive but for them, along with the Texas Democratic Party, to thrive.
Battleground is more of a candidate driven type of organization, with it’s roots in getting Obama elected twice. They’re more adept at trying to mobilize non-voters and swaying swing voters for a particular candidate. Where the party does the work of standing up for Democratic principles and getting the Democratic base to the polls.
Certainly many times their goals will overlap, but sometimes they won’t. But it would seem they will almost always be working toward the same end of getting Democrats elected. And in 2014 maybe they we’re both focused to much on candidates and the base was neglected.
Which is summed up pretty good here.
In effect, Battleground aims to become a sort of shadow party. The Texas Democratic Party has precinct chairs; Battleground has “neighborhood team leaders.”As happened in Corpus Christi, the group and the state party sometimes found themselves duplicating each other’s efforts this cycle, while competing for some of the same volunteers and donors. But where the party elects its leaders, Battleground is essentially a for-profit organization. Chris Young, the political director of the Harris County Democratic Party, told the Houston Chronicle after the election that Battleground’s approach represented a “privatization of the political system.”
Many people associated with the Texas Democratic Party want to build up the party’s capabilities, not create a whole new one. “If we want to get serious about party building, infrastructure investment belongs in the party itself,” says Gins.
Gins led one of the few Democratic groups to have a relatively successful working relationship with Battleground this cycle, but still argues that strengthening the party should be the coalition’s first goal. “If we want Democratic candidates to be viable in the long term, then the Democratic Party needs to be strong and responsible for building the base.”
There are many other groups that work with candidates and alongside the Democratic Party in Texas. Annie’s List, Planned Parenthood, Progress Texas, and the Texas Organizing Project to name a few. It would seem that a relationship along those lines can be worked out between the TDP and BGTX.
The GOP in Texas cannot be beaten by one entity alone. And they’ve grown strong with many organizations working alongside the Texas GOP. If they’re to be beaten it’s going to take a concerted effort, by many groups, over years and even decades. Egos and personal agendas will have to be put aside at times and sacrifices will have to be made. It won’t be easy and whether or not Battleground Texas is viable the work still must be done.
There’s much more in the article, so be sure to read the whole thing. It’s something to think about as we head into a 2015 legislative session that’s likely to be a rough one for anyone on the left.
[UPDATE]: Saw this after I posted. Kuff on the Observer article, On BGTX, Wendy Davis, and the future.
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