Monday, June 12, 2006

state convention 2006 - saturday

On the final day of the State Democratic Convention, I arrived just in time to hear Barbara Ann Radnofsky, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, deliver her moving speech. I have had the privilege to hear her speak on another occasion, when she came to Lewisville, Texas, and gave a speech to area Democratic groups. That event was hosted by the Flower Mound Democrats in the summer of 2004. I spoke with Barbara Ann after her speech and she told me that she remembered our group. She said, “You knew me when I was a baby politician!” I told her about our groups efforts to canvass southern Denton County, and she told me to get some copies of her new fliers for any future block-walking. She also informed me that her campaign had distributed over one million leaflets during the State Convention.

We heard from several major candidates, including David Van Os (running for Attorney General), Hank Gilbert (running for Commissioner of Agriculture), and Fred Head (running for Comptroller), and Maria Luisa Alvarado (running for Lieutenant Governor). U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Dallas Democrat representing U.S. Congressional District 30, introduced the Texas delegation to the U.S. Congress as well as the candidates, such as Tim Barnwell, who is running in the 26th District against Rep. Michael Burgess, and Nick Lampson, who is running in the 22nd District for Tom DeLay’s old seat. This led into a stirring seat by U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, who represents George W. Bush’s home district (the 17th).

After hearing the slate of candidates and office-holders speak, we began to caucus in order to vote for State Chair. We heard speeches from all four candidates: Boyd Richie, Glen Maxey, Charlie Urbina-Jones, and Lakesha Rogers. Each of the candidates designated three of their supporters to second their nomination with a short speech. When one of Rogers's supporters mentioned that Kesha was representing the LaRouche Youth Movement, there was a mixed reaction from the crowd, including some jeers. The Convention Chair stepped in and told the audience shortly that booing would not be accepted and that as Democrats we believed in the right to free speech. That received a great ovation from the crowd, and many Democrats, no matter which candidate they were beholden to, gave Lakesha Rogers a great show of support. Ms. Rogers made some good points, and her slogan - Out of the Bushes and Into the Future - was definitely one that we could all support. Maxey's supporters were the most vocal, shouting "¡YA BASTA!" to show that they had had enough of the way things were going. Because four candidates were running, it was difficult for one candidate to reach 51% of the vote. Richie nearly did, though, with about 47%. The race went into a runoff. Some delegates had wandered off by the time Charlie Urbina-Jones and Lakesha Rogers released their delegates. Neither of them specifically endorsed Maxey or Richie, but Urbina-Jones (who was popular with the Hispanic Caucus) told his supporters to "do what we discussed." I took this to mean that he wanted them to support Maxey. About half of the Urbina-Jones delegates did vote for Maxey, but it wasn't enough. Boyd Richie was elected to retain his new post as State Chair of the Texas Democratic Party.

Overall, I enjoyed myself. It was my first time to attend this sort of thing. I've always been politically active, but getting involved locally has really changed my outlook on things. After becoming a precinct chair and a delegate to the State Convention, I really feel like we have a fighting chance. If we work for it, we can change the status quo in Texas. I look forward to working with the new County Chair here in Denton, John Gossett, and the new State Chair, Boyd Richie, to finally win some elections. If anything, the State Convention ignited a fire under the bellies of the delegates, and we've left united and ready to fight it out until the end. As David Van Os says, "Fight 'em until hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice."

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