Friday, April 14, 2006

Democratic Farm Team Looks Strong

Vince Leibowitz wrote something that made me start thinking. If Rick Perry were to vacate his seat to become a Vice Presidential nominee or lose reelection, how many strong Republican campaigners are left and how many have the want and ambition to do it. In comparison, how deep is the Democratic bench?

I am not going to deny there is an obvious bias because I know one party better than the other. So please feel free to discuss the fine points of my analysis, but simply looking out current State House members and candidates the Democratic bench seems deeper and stronger than the Republicans. It seems like the Republican Party has become complacent with their statewide successes.

Keep in mind it is hard to maintain a super majority for any length of time and currently that is what the Republicans have. Like with anything, to win 60% of the House and Senate and maintain it, means you have to stretch resources farther and work to defend seats instead of working to take seats. It addition to this, the Republican party has to work about the State Supreme Court, local judicial races, and the State Board of Education—focusing on all of these fronts is no small task.

The Democrats had net victories for the first time since losing the majority last cycle and they are in a good place to net up to 5 or 6 seats. The conservative guess is a net of 3 seats plus the recent primary victory of Miles.

But how does this mean the Democrats are stronger for the long haul? Simple, county parties have been working to take back city councils and mayors office in urban areas like Houston, San Antonio, and DFW. Most of these seats are term limited seats and that causes a need to shuffle talent. The only places to put these people are school boards, judicial places, county positions, vacant state rep seats, or get them to challenge bad D’s or incumbent R’s.

Look at the recent list of legislators who are either positioning themselves for something else, in an area were they can move up to something else, or could run for a statewide office. The top of the list for the Democrats are: Rafael Anchia, Pete Gallego (although limited by Carlos Uresti’s rising star status in SD 19), Juan Garcia, Aaron Pena, Mark Strama, Mike Villarreal, Hubert Vo, and Kirk Watson. This doesn’t even factor in the impressive grouping of John Courage, Shane Sklar, David Harris, Harriet Miller, Julian Castro, Borris Miles, Valinda Bolton, and Donna Howard.

On the Republican side, the only people that are hinting at higher ambitions or show the long term qualifications to run statewide are Leo Berman, Diana Patrick, Mike Krusee, Dan Branch, Robert Talton (maybe as soon as this November in the TX-22), and Toby Goodman and Tony Goolsby (if they can win tough re-election races).

Usually leadership positions like Lt Gov and Attorney General become the breeding ground for Gov and US Senate, but Gregg Abbot, Tom Craddick, and the rest of the leadership is either to worn to run higher or would not garner the universal support to win a statewide race. Craddick is too far to the right, and would alienate moderate D’s and independents and Abbot doesn’t play well on TV for certain reasons.

Even in San Antonio we are seeing the same situation. On a local level there are perennial candidates Steve Salyer, Noel Suniga, and Cynthia Test and viable long term candidate Kevin Wolff. On the Democratic side, you have Chip Haas, Art Hall, Mynor Rodriguez, Melissa Kazen, and the Castro Brothers.

Why the sudden resurgence of the party? Simply put, when your back is against the wall and you have no long term support or infrastructure, you take matters into your own hands (much like what Glen Maxey did running races and developing a Travis County database. Ever heard of “Keep Austin Blue”?).

Now that the state party is developing a VAN database and putting organizers in the field, watch for the depth of candidates to grow and get tapped into for State Board of Education and State Court positions and not just the legislature.

The Democratic Party is seeing a resurgence in Texas and that is do in large part to people being tired of waiting for the pendulum to swing back. Will we be blue next year? No. Will we be blue in time for the 08 election? Probably not, but because of the development of our farm team, we may be purple by then.

2 Comments:

At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Bill said...

Houston Mayor Bill White is THE biggest Democratic star in Texas. Any arguement?

 
At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Jim Sharp said...

Mayor White is surely a star.
But I'd never bet against San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger in any race he ever made.
He's jaw-dropping smart AND politically wise.
Were those two to ever run a coordinated statewide campaign, we Democrats would have just found our way back home!

 

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