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What I want from the next HCDP Chair

So by now you know that HCDP Chair Gerry Birnberg will step down in December. The precinct chairs will select an interim Chair at that time, and a new Chair will be elected in the March primary. Lane Lewis has thrown his hat in the ring – he’d announced his intent to run for Chair some time ago – and I feel confident there will be other candidates. I’ll wait to see who gets in before I make any decisions, but in the meantime, here’s my wish list for the next HCDP Chair, whoever he or she may turn out to be.

1. Have a plan to deal with vote suppression. All the other items on this list put together are not half as important as this one. This includes, but by no means is limited to:

  • Educating voters about the new voter ID law, and helping those who need it get the required ID.
  • Defending against, and finding ways to go on the offensive against the King Street Patriots and their ilk.
  • Holding the Tax Assessor’s feet to the fire on voter registration applications, including more litigation as needed.

Anyone who does not have a detailed plan for this should be automatically disqualified for the job. If we don’t have our act together on this, nothing else will matter.

2. Develop a Latino outreach/turnout strategy. We’ve only been talking about such a thing since about five minutes after the Texas Constitution was ratified. May as well try to put one into practice.

3. Get involved in city elections. I don’t expect the Party to take sides in city races, since most city races involve more than one Democrat. But there’s no reason why the HCDP can’t at least tell us who the Democrats are in these races. Compare and contrast the HCDP’s 2011 City Election page with that of the Harris County GOP. The former tells you exactly nothing that you couldn’t find out elsewhere. The latter lets you know who’s on which team, and who’s the better team players among them. I can think of no valid reason why we don’t do something like that. In addition, city races can be used as testing grounds for voter registration, messaging, and turnout strategies. Every election matters. Why would we turn down a chance to use these elections to improve what we do?

4. Develop and implement a social media strategy. I’ll be honest, I don’t spend that much time on Facebook and Twitter, and I don’t use location-based apps like Foursquare, so for all I know the Party is already doing a great job with this. But whatever we’re doing, there’s always more that can be done. The methods and apps we’re using to win this election may be obsolete by the next election, and the key tool we’ll need to win the election may be something that hasn’t been developed yet. If we’re not on the leading edge, we’re falling behind. Oh, and studies show that Latinos – you know, the group that we desperately want to do a better job communicating with – are heavy smartphone users, more so than Anglos. You do the math.

5. Get elected officials more involved. I believe it should be the responsibility of every elected Democratic official to maximize voter registration and Democratic turnout in their district in every election that has Democrats on the ballot. I know I’m not the only Democrat in this county who believes that some of our Democratic elected officials do a better job of this than others. I know that the HCDP Chair has no authority over any elected official, but I daresay it’s within the Chair’s abilities to report on how each elected official does on this score to the Party membership. We the voters can take it from there.

So that’s my list. I don’t claim that it’s exhaustive or authoritative, but I do hope it will serve as a starting point for the discussion. I’d love to know what you want from the next Chair. Have at it in the comments.

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5 Comments

  1. John Cobarruvias says:

    Luckily we have the 2nd amendment of the United States to protect our God given right to vote. Maybe someone will use it this time.

  2. Suzy Allison says:

    Recruiting of candidates is something you haven’t talked about, but is fundamental for success. Birnberg did a good job recruiting judicial candidates, but there’s room for work elsewhere on the ballot. We can’t get visibility, let alone win, without a viable candidate filed.

  3. Brad says:

    Excellent points Charles.

  4. joshua bullard says:

    I worked on the judge robert hinnajosas campaign-a democrat judge that had been on the bench for 2.5years as well as judge engleharts campaign in 2008 ,of course we faired well in 2008 but i was washed to the wayside in november 2010.I also volunteered heavy on the ellen cohen campaign this year as well-HERE IN IS THE PROBLEMS I HAVE.
    When i was at west gray campaigning in november 2010,there was an “official rep there from the hcdp regulating”so she started in on me citting i was being overly aggressive and needed to tone it down-i complied reluctuntly,the nerve of the hcdp to send down a requlator at the polls and not once prior to that had i seen them,now then what the hcdp should be doing is educating its people to take care of there volunteers at least with the food-do you realize that if you volunteer for a democrat canidate you are most likely going to be searved water if your lucky-i will give you real life examples-ellen cohens campaign raised over 250,000$ in campaign contributions,but with myself along with an office full of volunteers on volunteer block walking day with her right hand man dave with lone star stratagies thought it would be a good idea to reserve budget and offer an office full of volunteers 6 doughnuts from shipley’s-thats count em 6 doughnuts-6 for about 30 volunteers-I WALKED OUT.judge hinajosa was even worse-the best he would do was a bottle of water-and that was only when your body looked lifeless-judge englehart faired the best of all of em-you got a cup of coffee and a doughnut-1 cup 1 doughnut.the point is-if your a democrat canidate-the least you can do for your volunteers is feed them and feed them good-especially when your campaign is bringing in record levels of campaign contributions.-now-if you got 6 voluteers for that day phone banking and block walking-you better make damn sure your feeding those volunteers full tilt.This is where the republicans have us whipped/you volunteer for a gop canidate and youll see what iam talking about-you wont be paid but your tummy will be popped and right fully so.the hcdp needs to tighten the belt is this area advocating for more budget for the volunteers-when in doubt-spend more on your volunteers.
    lastly-The hcdp needs to pay for a comprehennsive research study on how to break the gop hold that they have on the judiciary,its ridiculous how few democrat judges we have on the bench and every last one of them have to be worried sick theyll be voted out by straight ticket voting-get it together and make it snappy,theres no time to waste.
    Also, the hcdp needs to try to get out of the individual campaign bussiness and spend more time focusing on all the dem canidates as a whole.and do some type of review on some of these judcial canidates so that there not filling a spot as a favor for the sitting gop judge over and over and over again-for example take dem canidate sandra peake with the 257th district court-she always runs for the 257th-every time-with no results and the hcdp just sighns her up every time with out even checking to see if theres some collusion going on and asking sandra peake to run for a diffrent judgeship,its ridiculous.
    feed your volunteers-put the ac on 70 degrees-run for office with a passion or dont run.
    respectfully submitted joshua ben bullard

  5. [...] to Stace for highlighting this. I called for something exactly like this two years ago when the process of electing a successor to then-HCDP [...]

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