“What are the top lessons from the recent Virginia House of Delegates elections for candidates running for Texas House? And, if you are elected how would you use that momentum to strengthen the Democratic Party in the state?”
That line of questioning was posed by Groundswell Denton, to several Democrat candidates for Texas House Districts in the Dallas are. What follows is the quick response I submitted.
The Virginia Wave is poised to sweep the nation
The Virginia results are inspiring, and provide a spark of hope that we can reference to get our constituents motivated to donate and vote. It is more proof that the tide is turning. Virginia elected a transgender delegate, a Latino woman, a socialist and an African American. This was a clear Anti-Trump vote. It was a rejection of hatred, misogyny, racism, bigotry and the divisiveness that characterizes the Trump administration. Exit polling showed many voters wanted to register their dissatisfaction with Trumpism. This election has been called a referendum on the Trump Agenda.
While the track record for Democrats in the Texas House has suffered in recent years, I believe that has been due, in part, to the lack of participation and enthusiasm on the part of Democrats. We have occasionally fielded a worthy candidate who generates excitement, but we haven’t had a full ballot that presents the voters with a real choice in many years. It is only natural that many would write off the possibility of victory, and in fact, even sit home during elections.
The results in Virginia prove to me that if we come together as a team in Denton County, we may just have options this election cycle. The time is NOW. There is palpable anger amongst the electorate, who are suddenly waking up to see that their complacency has resulted in their comfortable lives being disrupted in a major way. And we, as a party, have to seize on this opportunity to really get them to understand that our founding fathers gave us the power of the vote, and many of us have been taking it for granted.
People are eager for new faces, and for real people, not polished politicians. In Virginia, there was a groundswell of new voters who were clearly motivated by anger at what they see. But we cannot assume the frustration of the voters will be enough. In order for us to capitalize on this shift, we must work together and have consistent messaging – a Unified Campaign. The Democrats in Virginia worked hard to get this result. They walked, and walked, and called, and donated, and walked some more. They ran against Trump, and against cronyism and big money. They coordinated their resources so their message was echoed in every race, and it broke through the wall of indifference! In Texas, we can, and we must, learn from this and repeat it.
The uncomfortable position in which many Republicans find themselves, is a great opportunity for Democrats. Republicans have to either play to the ultra-conservative Trump base, or they have to shift more toward the middle. That becomes a tricky dance when there is an attractive candidate running in opposition. Democrat Northam’s victory was of blowout proportions. And perhaps most exciting, he won the suburbs, educated voters, and young voters, by wide margins. He won the voters of the future!
Even more stunning, the entire Virginia delegation made sweeping changes, putting Democrats in control for the first time since 2000.
In fact, many reasonable, centrist Republicans have been threatened from within their own party, and have seen the writing on the wall and retired. This leaves many of those seats wide open for Democrats. We must capitalize on making sure we are fielding candidates for every race. Every. Single. Race.
We need to recognize that reaching people is not done the same way it was 10 years ago; all of our playbooks need to be updated to use social media and reach younger voters. When we reach voters, our message must be that we value the respect and dignity of each person, that we want every person to be able to lead a successful, happy life, because that is better for everyone. The Republican strategy is to use fear and hatred of our differences to divide and conquer. We must embrace the idea that we all do better together, when we are supporting one another, and ensuring equal rights and opportunities for everyone. We must unite and empower!
The 2018 election is the best chance Democrats in Texas have had to take back power since Ann Richards. The biggest weaknesses I see, which we must concertedly overcome, are fielding credible candidates, and working as a team to achieve our goals. I am committed to helping the Denton County Democratic Party capitalize on our opportunity, and pledge to work as a team with my party to make it happen.
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