Saving some dates and a little Democratic housekeeping

A wonkish report for all of you really interested in the
nuts and bolts of the Texas Democratic Party

English: Texas Democratic Party Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Now that we seem to have a firm date for our primary election, it’s time to set up all the other events that normally go along … like precinct and county conventions, choosing delegates to the state convention, ballots and all that stuff.

The grasping crazy that our friends in the GOP threw into this year’s process pushed the primary election back to within less than two weeks of our state convention. As a result, the Texas Democratic Party had to toss out many of the rules we normally use to select delegates to the county, state and national conventions. And, really, those events are mostly about selecting delegates.

According to the state party,

The [county] conventions will be open to any qualified voter who signs an oath of affiliation with the Democratic Party. You must be registered to vote 30 days before the County Convention.  Every participant who signs in is entitled to participate as a delegate at the convention—to be seated and participate with their appropriate precinct delegation.  On convention matters where precincts are entitled to full voting strength each participant shall cast whatever percentage of the precinct’s vote their individual participation represents.

Our county’s executive committee met last week and formally called for us to hold our county convention 10 a.m. Saturday, April 21 at the Milam County Courthouse, and to cancel precinct conventions (which are normally held after the polls close on election day).

We get eight delegates and eight alternates to the state convention so, if you want to go to the state convention in Houston June 8-9, this is where you begin (and go ahead and make your hotel reservations).

It’s also where you need to start if you want to go to the national convention, as at least two Milam County residents intend. But, in addition to our county convention, those who want to go to Charlotte in September should also attend our Senate District caucus Saturday, May 19 in Madisonville. In fact, it’d be great if we could take our full delegation to the caucus and to the state convention.

If you want to know more about the state convention or the delegate selection process, it’s all on the party’s Web site.

Our Ballot

In a previous post, I listed our local candidates. Following is a list of our state and national Democratic candidates and the three referendums that will be on our ballot.

Bob Ely
Barack Obama
Darcy G. Richardson
John Wolfe

U. S. Senator
Addie Dainell Allen
Sean Hubbard
Paul Sadler
Grady Yarbrough

Railroad Commissioner
Dale Henry

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 6
Michele Petty

Presiding Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
Keith Hampton

Member, State Board of Education, District 10
Judy Jennings

Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District, Place 2
J. Andrew Hathcock

Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District, Place 3
Diane Henson

Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District, Place 5
Karen L. Watkins

Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District, Place 6
Bryan Case


  • Prop 1:  Any graduate of a Texas high school, who has lived in the state for at least three years and lived here continuously for the last year, should be eligible for in-state tuition at state supported colleges and universities and given the opportunity to earn legal status through a higher education or military service.
  • Prop 2: “Because a college education is increasingly necessary for jobs that allow our citizens to achieve middle class lifestyles and become the entrepreneurs who create the jobs that our economy relies on, we call on the Texas Legislature to fund colleges and universities such that tuition and fees can be affordable to all Texans.”
  • Prop 3: Should the Texas Legislature allow the people of Texas to vote to legalize casino gambling with all funds generated being used only for education?
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Rejoice! Feds reject voter ID

Señalización de lugar de votación en Californi...

Image via WikipediaWhen it was introduced, we all thought Texas Republican's Voter ID law was a classic case of voter suppression and of GOP over-reach.

This morning, the  U.S. Department of Justice agreed and rejected it by refusing to “preclear” the law.

The law would have required a voter to present a valid government-issued identification card. The law requires a Texas driver’s license or Department of Public Safety identification card. The law allowed concealed handgun licenses to be used instead of a driver’s license but not student ID cards from Texas colleges and universities.

Nearly 20 percent of all Texans — and up to 40 percent of minorities in certain areas — lack the necessary documents, never mind that fact that budget cuts have caused the closure of scores of rural DPS offices and the curtailment of hours in others.

Because of its history of voter suppression, Texas is one of several states that must get preclearance before enacting any legislation that would affect voter rights. In fact, this law — along with similar laws passed by other Southern states this year — is a pretty stark reminder that each and every one of the provisions in the Voting Rights Act are still necessary.

The Justice Department wrote: “Because we conclude that the state has failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the proposed law will not have a retrogressive effect, we do not make any determination as to whether the state has established that the proposed changes were adopted with no discriminatory purpose.”

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said, “Throughout the preclearance process, Texas consistently failed to produce information showing the law would not have a discriminatory impact on minority voters. The Voting Rights Act exists for this exact purpose: protecting the ability of all Americans to access the ballot box.”

This isn’t necessarily over. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will likely fight the decision and it could end up at the Supreme Court.

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Yes, we’ll have an election

English: I took photo of Milam County, TX, sig...

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Well, it looks like we will finally have an election.

The federal court opened up a new filing window this week, and a couple of people took the opportunity to toss their caps into the political ring. That filing period ended Friday so this is how the ballot shapes up.

  • Norman Lanford — Judge 20th District Court
  • Hollis Lewis — Judge 20th District Court
  • Kerry Spears (i) — District & County Attorney
  • Linda Acosta (i) — County Treasurer
  • Tommy Grimes — Tax Assessor/Collector
  • Ricky McCall — County Commissioner, Pct. 1
  • Andy Jackson — County Commissioner, Pct. 3
  • Giles Summerlin (i) — Constable, Pct. 4
  • Brian Fisher — Constable, Pct. 4

You will note that we have two contested races: district judge and Constable, Pct. 4.

Monday afternoon, at 4:30, we will draw to see what order our candidates will be listed on the ballot. That will be at the county headquarters and is open to the public.

The county Executive Committee will meet 7 p.m. Thursday, also at the office, to set the time and place for our county convention. This meeting is also open to the public but most of our business will regard setting the details for the convention and the primary election.

The Milam County Democratic Women will meet 10 a.m. Saturday morning at the office. If you are interested in being part of our 2012 electoral efforts, this is the meeting to attend and the group to join.

(The county office is 112 E. 1st St., directly across the street from the north side of the county courthouse in Cameron.)

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Friends don’t let Democrats vote Republican

… and now for something completely local.

This doesn't really go with the subject of this blog but I thought it was funny and, it does kinda-sorta relate. Kinda-sorta ...

Folks have approached me about several otherwise “good Democrats” who are torn about the Milam County sheriff’s race. They say there is concern about who might or might not win, and that it’s the only important race in the county.

Well, here’s my take on that.

To vote for any one of the three candidates means voting in the Republican Primary.

Do you know what happens when you vote in the Republican Primary? Well, I’m tempted to allude to how they’ll force you to take part in demonically dark and craven practices while we threaten thunderous excommunication from the gentle bosom of the Texas Democratic Party … but none of that happens. Even the excommunication part.

What does happen is that your voter registration card is marked with a stamp. If you vote in the Democratic Primary, it’s stamped with “DEMOCRAT.” If you vote in the Republican Primary, it will be stamped, in red ink, with the word “REPUBLICAN.” That is how you signal your political affiliation in this state.

Plus, you won’t be able to vote in the Democratic Primary and, as a shameful reminder of that, you will carry a voter registration card stamped “REPUBLICAN” for the next two years.

The other, probably more important, thing that happens is this. All three of those men — along with the other turncoats — were elected as Democrats. (Correction — one of them ran as a Democrat last time out but didn’t win. The other two were elected Democrats.) All three of them made a calculated decision to flip, and gambled that you would follow them to the Dark Side.

They’re betting that they can make you vote Republican. Whether you want to or not. And they’re laughing about it.

Don’t do it. I say they don’t deserve your vote. There are good, local Democratic candidates who need your help and the Republican Primary is not the only local primary election that is important.

And, please … don’t go around for two years with your voter registration card stamped “REPUBLICAN.”

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This just in from the Taliban Wing of the GOP …

My advisors tell me that I ought to keep this blog focused on local politics but the national events at the end of last week raised my ire.

A friend asked why the Democrats were suddenly “afraid” of Rick Santorum. We’re not. Nor are we afraid of any of his sweater vests, though a couple of them are pretty scary. Still, if this is the guy the GOP wants to nominate for president, let’s have it.

However, based on his public statements, Mr. Santorum occupies a place in fundamentalist American Christianity similar to what Osama Bin Laden occupied in fundamentalist Islam. The fact that he is a serious candidate for the presidential nomination of one of our major political parties should make everyone in this country look very hard at who and what that party really represents.

And, if you are of the female persuasion (or love someone of that persuasion), it should make you very afraid, not only of this candidate but of the people who support him. Based on his comments, Mr. Santorum’s world is a place where women are chattel who should never be allowed near birth control or reproductive services.

You can couch this as an argument about religious freedom if you like but I vehemently disagree. It’s part of a right-wing assault on American women, one that’s been going on for some time.

Women deserve the right to self-determination (you know, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all that …) and, for too many American women (even most), the ONLY way they can exercise that right is through easy access to birth control.

Telling a woman that she doesn’t have a “… right to birth control” is the same as telling her that she has no rights.

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So, let’s have an election already!

There is still no date in sight for a primary election in Texas — and the “official” filing date has closed — but that hasn’t stopped some Milam County folks from tossing their hats into the ring.

We were supposed to have a Primary Election on March 6 but the three-cornered judicial ping-pong match that the process has devolved into has yet to yield a set of maps that everyone can agree to. As I write this, the common wisdom is that our Primary Election will be held May 29. Or June 26. Or … well, I dunno. There are several links at the bottom of this post and, if you follow them, you’ll learn more than you really want about the process.

There are many pithy things to say about how Republican over-reach led us to the position where Texas will have no discernible impact on the national GOP presidential race, and how it completely screwed up our local primary elections in the process, but I’ll let Ben Sargent’s editorial cartoon speak to that for now. This post is about our local race.

In all of this, the court has left open a new window of opportunity for candidates to amend their filing petition, withdraw it, or submit a brand spanking new one. Many of us responsible for conducting these elections are calling it “fruit basket turnover” week because anything could happen. This new opportunity — along with the circus that the GOP Presidential race has become — has prompted some local Democrats to reconsider running for office.

For instance, Andy Jackson, who works for Miller-Starnes in Rockdale, recently filed his financial paperwork with the county and will run for our County Commissioner Pct. 3 nomination. In an example of the craziness that could occur, Odes Foster, one of the candidates for the Republican nomination for Pct. 3 Commissioner, realized that he really is a Democrat, not a Republican, and has withdrawn from the GOP primary. He told me that he intends to run for the Democratic nomination for Pct. 3 Commissioner.

Lisa Roden of Cameron and Randy McCall of Buckholts have filed their paperwork with the county and intend to run for the Democratic nomination for Pct. 1 Constable, they say.

Until these announcements, there were no Democrats running in either race. Now, we could have as many as four contested primaries which I think is pretty cool. Further, I’ve heard from several other people that they might be interested in other open ballot positions, but until they actually file their paperwork with the county, there’s not much I can say.

The other contested races include the Precinct 4 Constable ballot where incumbent Giles Summerlin (who is the longest-serving Democrat in the county) drew an opponent in Brian Fisher both are from Thorndale.

The other is for District Judge. Norman Lanford and Hollis Lewis, both of Cameron, square off against each other in that race.

Our other candidates are Kerry Spears, our incumbent District & County Attorney, Linda Acosta our incumbent treasurer, and Tommy Grimes who is running for the tax assessor/collector spot. All three are so far unopposed in the primary.

So don’t let your GOP friends convince you all the action is in the Republican Primary. Sure, they’ve got that flashy sheriff’s race and all, but that’s it. Even their presidential primary will be deep-sixed by then. In the mean time, local Democrats need your support and your vote in the primary election — whenever it happens to be.

The Milam County Democratic Women will meet 10 a.m. Saturday Feb. 18 at the party’s county office (directly across the street from the court house in Cameron). Linda Acosta will be the speaker. All candidates are welcome — and all are encouraged to bring some yard signs along. It’s a great way to get some of them distributed.

BTW: if you’ve not formally joined this group, now would be a great time.

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Oh, for a qualified candidate …

Like many of you, I’m a bit dismayed that we were unable to find a qualified candidate to run in the Democratic Primary for Milam County Sheriff.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying. We talked to many people about it. It’s just that the qualified people we spoke with were unwilling or unable to run. It was important to me and members of the executive committee that our candidate be qualified for the job, not someone we drafted just so we could have a name on the ballot.

It seems a bit unfair, I know, but the Republicans wound up with three candidates. On the other hand, it could be a tough slog for them … they’re sure to have a runoff — in June! — and it could get ugly before it’s over.

I’m not saying a Democrat would be a shoe-in but, if it does get nasty, Milam County voters would likely be pretty tired of that sort of thing come November.  All a qualified Democratic candidate would have to do to be competitive is shake a lot of hands, kiss a lot of babies and run a good clean race.

And, now that I’ve seen a little of how the GOPers intend to campaign for the office, I really do wish a qualified candidate would step up. I mean, have you seen the yard signs these guys have put up?

David, the incumbent says that he is the “conservative Republican candidate,” which, you have to admit, is pretty funny coming from a fella who ran as a Democrat, was elected as a Democrat and was a still a Democrat a few months ago. I’ll allow as how he was a “conservative” Democrat but to get from there to “conservative Republican” is quite a leap.

Greg wants us to return to “traditional law enforcement,” whatever that is. No offense but no one has ever regarded “traditional law enforcement,” as practiced in rural Texas, enlightened public policy. Unless you’re white. Granted, old time, rough and ready law enforcement seemed pretty effective, and I guess its simplistic nature and lack of subtle shadings appeals to certain people, but it was also often brutal. And lacked justice. So, if he wins,  we expect a return to interrogations held in back rooms accompanied by bright lights and rubber hoses, and arrests made for driving while black (or brown — or liberal).

But, what’s up with Herbie’s yard signs? Herbie, kneeling behind a pack of snarling German Shepherds? Really? I guess he loves his dogs — I get that — and they may be positively adorable, but in what universe is it a good idea to feature animals known mostly as vicious guard dogs as central to your message of community-minded law enforcement? Especially if you really need the minority vote for success?

Finally, just so everyone knows, all three of these guys were Democrats not that long ago. So, when they start whipping out their conservative credentials and throw around “Tea Party” buzz words as if they really knew what the words meant, remember that all three of them were Democrats last time around, and two of them ran on the same ticket with Pres. Obama. Just sayin’.

(And, if you are qualified to be Sheriff and interested in running on the Democratic ticket, give me a call. There’s still time.)

Posted in Milam County, Tea Party Republicans, Texas Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments