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Political convention wrap-up in Texas

Both political parties in Texas hosted their state conventions this weekend. I thought as a service to you, the crap-reading public, I would give a quick re-cap of each:

The Democrats:

Elected a new chairman.
Asked Kirk Watson a lot of questions.
Didn’t stay long after checking in.
Passed a platform delegates seem happy with.
Asked Kirk Watson a lot more questions.
Started blaming the new chairman for stuff before they even got out the door.
Complained about the Houston humidity.
Defended Houston’s humidity (Houston delegates only).
Seemed bored Friday night.
Seemed to have a pretty good time anyway.
Confounded reporters looking for actual news.

The Republicans:

Boo’ed Rick Perry.
Boo’ed David Dewhurst.
Boo’ed the people booing Rick Perry and David Dewhurst.
Shhhh’ed the people booing the people booing Rick Perry and David Dewhurst.
Boo’ed Ted Cruz, sort of.
Claimed that nobody boo’ed anybody.
Heard 1,284 speeches about how Obama sucks.
Forgot to boo undocumented aliens, but only for a moment.
Seemed bored Friday night.
Seemed to have a pretty good time anyway.
Confounded reporters looking for actual news, except the boo’ing part.

This has been your Letters From Texas political convention wrap-up.

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Anti-social media and the race for Democratic Party chair

With the retirement of Texas Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie, there’s a race on for state Party Chairman. Most people think the race is a lock, and that former Cameron County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa is set to win.

And, fair enough. Of those running, there’s no question in my mind he’s the best choice to provide leadership for the Democrats. It isn’t even a close call. His opponents are Rachel Van Os and Fidel Acevedo.

But isn’t one of the biggest challenges ahead for Democrats to communicate Democratic values to potential supporters? And isn’t social media among the best affordable opportunities to communicate with people on a continuing basis?

If all that is true, whoever the next Democratic leader will be has a big learning curve ahead, if either candidate’s commitment to Twitter is any indication.

Here’s the situation with Rachel Van Os on Twitter:

Click on the photo to enlarge

I would have loved to contrast that to Gilberto Hinojosa’s twitter account stats. It’s just that I can’t find him on Twitter. There’s no indication he has a twitter account at all.

To be fair, current Chairman Boyd Richie (who won his election before Twitter was widely-used) doesn’t seem to be on Twitter either, but under his leadership the Democratic Party has built a significant presence there, and they have hundreds more following them than the Republican Party of Texas.

Clearly Twitter isn’t everything, but nobody could credibly argue that it isn’t an important communications tool to many segments of an electorate. One would think that candidates for Party Chairman attempting to convince Democrats of their commitment to communicating to Texas voters might have noticed that.

I shot an email to Judge Hinojosa’s campaign to ask if he’s hiding a Twitter account somewhere; I’ll update this piece if I hear back (UPDATE: I heard back – he doesn’t have one). But meanwhile, sheesh.

Update #2: I am informed via the comments section (thanks, comments section!) that there is a third candidate in the race: Fidel Acevedo. I’d seen in earlier news that he had filed, but had also read that there had been questions about whether his was a valid filing, and incorrectly assumed that his candidacy had gone away. Apparently wrong about that, I present his Twitter stats as well:

Click on the photo to enlarge
So there you have it: all candidates for Democratic Party Chair have a combined grand total of 20 followers. What could possibly go wrong?

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My U.S. Senate endorsement

Did you see the U.S. Senate debate last week on Houston public TV, which featured Democrats Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard, as well as the four Republican horsemen of the apocalypse? If so, congratulations – you’re one of a handful of Texans who tuned in.

Debates like that are usually only important if they create a subsequent buzz. Since few people watch the actual debate, it is only if somebody seizes the moment, royally screws up, or otherwise makes a strong impression one way or another, the public discussion afterward can sometimes swing enough votes to affect outcomes.

So here’s my own personal buzz, for what it’s worth: while it might surprise and maybe upset a few people for whom I have a lot of respect, after watching the debate I’ve decided I’m voting for Sean Hubbard in the Democratic primary.

Sean Hubbard

Both Hubbard and Sadler comported themselves very well. Both articulated values with which I, as well as most other Texas Democratic primary voters, wholeheartedly agree. I believe either would make a fine U.S. Senator.

But here’s the deal: both Democrats in the race are under-funded. And unless one of ‘em wins the lottery, there’s no particular reason to believe that each won’t remain underfunded, especially compared to the Republican nominee, who intends to buy this Senate seat.

To be sure, lightning does occasionally strike in politics, but it usually doesn’t. So barring some unforeseen circumstance which changes the financial game, the reality is that Texas is one of the most expensive states in the nation to get out a message, the Republican nominee will have the funding necessary to saturate that message, and the Democratic nominee won’t. And while that’s a terrible shame, it also makes it more likely that the Democrat won’t prevail this November.

This, in my view, makes who Democrats nominate no less important. We have a Party to build. It cannot be built without growing enthusiasm, and it cannot be grown without attracting new voters to us, while retaining the support we’ve maintained.

Paul Sadler

There’s no doubt Paul Sadler is a rock-solid guy, and always was. He has a deep understanding of policy details which I deeply admire. And the likelihood that he would attract few new voters to the Democratic column is more a reflection on the electorate than it is on him. During the debate, he was the quintessential policy wonk, explaining government to people, with deep knowledge and much wisdom. I’m the kind of dork who likes that stuff. Most voters’ eyes glaze over.

Sean Hubbard surprised me at the debate. He is no less articulate than Sadler. He demonstrates an open-mindedness about new ideas, while simultaneously making clear that he would not turn his back on Democratic values. And mostly, he oozes enthusiasm and positive energy from every pore.

At 31, he looks younger than that, and he pointed out that he’s already older than Joe Biden was when Biden was elected to the Senate. Hubbard would be more likely to garner an excitement in a general election which is greater than the sum of its parts – not just because of his age, but because of his infectious enthusiasm and unapologetic zeal for the race. Isn’t that the kind of Democratic candidate that grows more voters than the “smartest guy in the room” types Democrats have already tried?

Here’s hoping lightning strikes. But even if it doesn’t, Sean Hubbard would be the kind of Democratic nominee more capable of attracting new folks to the Democratic column. It’s potentially important in that U.S. Senate race, it’s important in down ballot contests, and it’s important in future Party-building and elections.

To help you make your own decision, you can watch the Senate debate here. Also, while you’re listening to the Democrats, it’s also fun to watch the Republicans as they each explain why they’re totally for women’s freedom, even as they document why they’re not in favor of supporting any of those freedoms.

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Don’t miss out this Saturday!

I’ve written about this before, but now the event date is upon us.

Boyd Richie, pictured with the hot Richie

This Saturday evening in Austin, the Texas Democratic Party is hosting a roast of Boyd and Betty Richie. Except, few people are likely to roast Betty, because…well, you know…she’s the one we actually like. It’s a dinner event at the Hyatt Regency, and if you’re not there, we’ll talk bad about you.

House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar has been added to the already stellar line-up, which already included Texas Senator Royce West, Judge Gilberto Hinojosa, DNC Secretary Alice Germond (you think you don’t know her, but you do – she’s the one who gets to do the roll call of states at Democratic National Conventions), the AFL-CIO’s John Patrick, legendary former TDP Chairman Bob Slagle, the lovely and talented Aimee Boone, and more!

And, oh yeah, the Democratic Party screwed around and put me in charge; I’m the Master of Ceremonies. And while I don’t often get carte blanche to ridicule people aside from this here natural habitat, when I do I don’t jack around, bucko.

So you can either get off your ass and attend this fun event, or you can be informed on Monday morning, as you hang around the water cooler wasting your employer’s time and money, that in your absence I trashed you at the event. So basically your attendance can be your self-defense mechanism.

I hope to see you Saturday!

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We’re takin’ this show on the road: D/FW

North Texas/Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex folks -

Mark your calendars for November 5.

Actually, first mark your calendar for October 21, because remember that nut who predicted the rapture earlier this year, only it turns out he was full of it? Yeah, well, he’s rescheduled his little rapture for October 21. So yeah, that’s the date we can all join hands in bipartisan unity and ridicule people who pretend to know about such things.

But after that: mark your calendar for Saturday, November 5, because that’s when Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters will be taking this little clown car act on the road, where we’ll be featured at an event benefitting the Texas Democratic Party, and honoring the lovely and talented Wendy Davis, State Senator from Fort Worth.

That the event will be held at the amazing Dallas World Aquarium, along with all the endless associated fish puns, would be enough. That the event honors Wendy Davis would be enough. That the event benefits your Texas Democratic Party would be enough. That the event features me would be…well, probably not enough.

But get this: the event also features Dallas Senator Royce West, who is not only smart and entertaining, but whose voice always leads all blind people everywhere to fully believe that Barry White is in the house.

So don’t be a cheap-ass – order your tickets to this dinner event online now. Then get your friends to do the same, because you know how much you hate walking into a room and realizing you don’t know anybody.

I’ll see you in Dallas! (assuming that rapture guy is full of it, again)

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