One way or another, it was gonna happen. With three good people like Gilberto Hinojosa, Ace Acevedo, and Rachel Barrios Van Os vying for the job of Texas Democratic Party Chair, an Hispanic was finally going to take over the helm of the organization.
I’ve known the work of all three of them, and they each offer great ideas and all are progressives-at-heart. Van Os, I met in 2006 when her husband David was running statewide and my client and friend Gary Binderim was running for Congress in CD-2. The Van Os’s both encouraged and included Gary when others weren’t very interested. And that, I’ll never forget. Ace, I’ve known as a true progressive of the Kucinich variety. In fact, I met him back in 2003 when I was working on the La Raza Unida conferences with Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez and he brought a bunch of Austin folks with him (who also attended my precinct chair/convention how-to-participate seminar). How can you not respect that? I knew Gilberto Hinojosa’s work because I like following Valley politics and knew him to be a good progressive. And one had to appreciate Hinojosa’s hard-work to win the seat, evident in his hoarse voice once the nominations were being made. Frankly, I don’t think we could go wrong with any of these serving as the face of the Party.
And that’s the point, we needed a face to the party who could serve all Democrats, while respecting a Latino electorate that, while it may vote Democratic in November, is not very active beyond a Presidential election. Of course, given the results of the election, it was quite obvious that Gilberto Hinojosa was the Democrats’ choice.
Latino or not, the new Chair has a lot of work ahead of him. The Chair has the challenge of not only raising the funds needed to run a strong state party office, but also to create the critical mass necessary to making a difference around the State of Texas; particularly in local and district elections. And beyond 2012.
While National Democrats may not respect Texas voters, they surely respect our wealthier Dems. And the Chair must challenge those wealthy donors to respect all of our candidates, and especially our voters–including those whose participation we seek to increase. As many have said, Texas must get to a point where it is no longer the DNCs or other campaigns’ ATM.
And as we have a pretty respectable communications shop at TDP, the message needs to go a lot wider, using whatever tools are available; whether it comes from that office, or providing some sort of support to ground activists who utilize various tools locally, online, and on the ground.
Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, and perhaps the new Chair has a plan already. But the bottom line is that people need to know about it and about the Party, and especially about all of our candidates.
Now, I’ll do my part in my own little world. I’ll even promise to work harder to expand my own audience. But the Party must never cede anything to the other side, especially based on chances of winning. The more Democrats we bring out, especially in our tough-to-win districts, the more energy the party will have.
As far as the Chair is concerned, he can’t do it alone, nor can the Party leadership. We have some new, good leaders headed to the SDEC, so, we may be on a path to something a lot better.
A Latino activist friend asked me, “OK, we got our Latino Party Chair, what do we need from him?”
I responded, “Well, we need to ask the new Chair, ‘What does he need from us?’” Then we can show him what we offer.