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.