How to Rebuild the Bench

Texas Monthly recently highlighted one of the Texas Democratic Party's biggest problems, the lack of candidates with elected experience or experience in statewide campaigns. Texas Democrats Have a Recruitment Problem


If Mr. Hooks and Texas Monthly had dug a little deeper they would have seen that the problem is much worse and much more fundamental. It is a problem that goes all the way down to the County and Precinct level, especially in the red areas of the state like The 134. The Texas Democratic Party has for years failed to pay any attention or commit resources to low level races. I understand. Local races aren't as cool and sexy as statewide, congressional and legislative races. But county and precinct level races are where you build a bench for the races higher up the ballot. Mr. O'Rourke was a city council member before he was elected to Congress or ran for Senate.


A Major League Baseball team does not spend all its money on the top, marquee players. It spends a lot more on the Single, Double and Triple A farm clubs. Why? Because that is where they build their bench for the bigs. You don't win the World Series unless you have built a team with depth all the way down to places like the Rockhounds of Midland Texas or the Mighty Mussels of Fort Myers Florida. This is essential. This is where the next crop of big league players will come from--the marquee players of tomorrow. If a big league team stops paying attention to its farm teams and its minor league players, its days as a franchise are numbered. Exhibit A is the Texas Democratic Party of the 21st Century.


If we want to rebuild our bench we should start by not focusing so much on the statewide level. Obviously we cannot simply give up that fight completely, but we have to shift our main focus to the County and Precinct level. We have to stop ignoring them and thinking that these smaller, very red places should just take care of themselves. We have to realize we are all part of the same team, and that when one of us suffers, we all suffer. The impact of doing otherwise might not be immediate, and it may not be obvious today, but in time the disaster that is the long term result of such a mentality will tell. This is where Texas Democrats are today. How many one armed fighters do you see in boxing? To fight effectively a boxer needs both his right and his left. To win elections you need both your liberal and conservative wings and your rural and large urban areas to bring balance, speed and flexibility--to fight both offense and defense.


To do that requires a conscious decision to do so by the TDP, real leadership, and years of commitment of people and resources. There is nothing new or novel about this. This failing on our part has been talked about for a long time. It is also a decision we have proved incapable of making in the past. I guess because it takes too much work. The other excuse offered is that there is no money for such an effort. But there is always plenty of money to do what we choose to do. Where we spend our money shows what our priorities are. We do not spend money on red areas or county level races, not because we don't have it or can't raise it, but because we don't want to. The effect whether intended or not, is a decision that, as Democrats, we no longer have any intention of being a relevant force in Texas politics. We are content with our current minority status.


The 134 PAC is not content. That is why we are dedicated to raising attention and resources to do what the state party does not do. We want to provide critical financial support to county parties and local candidates who are facing the brunt of the struggle to keep the Democratic Party alive in their deep red areas. Hopefully the TDP and other groups will join this effort. But if they don't, to quote the old hymn, "though none go with me I still will follow."

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