When the 2024 primary season began, as a PAC we decided we would not endorse in any state-wide races in the primary. Our focus is building up rural Democrats and county Democratic parties in the most Republican counties in Texas, West Texas in particular. Instead, we decided to monitor the campaigns and be a resource for rural voters. We would advocate for candidates to visit rural places, listen to rural people and their concerns, as well as educate rural Democrats on who was responding to their issues better than others. We would provide information and perspective and let people come to their own conclusions. No one likes to be told who they should vote for, least of all 134 Democrats. It was a good plan. What we did not count on was Thierry Tchenko.
134 Democrats are used to being ignored. They almost never see a Democratic Candidate for Senator in person. Admittedly our expectations from the Texas Democratic Party and statewide candidates are pretty low. In fact rural Democrats often have no expectations at all. For the most part, this primary season did not disappoint.
Colin Allred decided to run a fundraising campaign from Washington D.C. We weren't surprised that he ignored rural Texas. What we didn't realize is that he would ignore Texas completely. We heard early on that Roland Gutierrez was only going to focus on the most populous counties in the state and ignore everywhere else. That concerned us. We are glad to see that he has been campaigning in some smaller places. We appreciate him coming to our recent rural debate, and we hope he continues to listen to people outside the big cities and come up with a broader approach. Still the lack of a real, rural effort by his campaign is typical. It is what we have gotten used to. He has much to offer rural Democrats, but so far his campaign and his message has not capitalized on that potential in our view.
All candidates profess that every person is important and that every vote is important. But few act like they believe it. To most it is just something you say, not something you do. During one of our discussions with Thierry Tchenko, on one of his many visits to The 134, we asked him why he was so committed to campaigning in the forgotten country when almost every other candidate and the professional politicos tell everyone to ignore places like Mineral Wells, Lamesa, Pampa, Fort Stockton and Rocksprings. HIs answer was not what we expected.
He said, “Because if Democrats believe everyone matters then we have to campaign like everyone matters.” We could not agree more. Thierry Tchenko understands this election is not just about defeating Ted Cruz or winning an election. It is about something much bigger and more important. It is about bringing hope to places and to people that have lost all hope. It is about building local parties and a state party worthy of the name “The Democratic Party." He recognizes that if we want to win Texas, we have to contest for votes not only in the places where it is easy, but also in the places where it is hard. If you want to be a leader you have to talk to and represent not just the people who agree with you, but also those who do not.
Having a true state-wide campaign is not having a few stops in rural places. It is about listening to and learning from ordinary folks. Thierry has done that, and he has listened, and learned. He recently released a rural bill of rights as part of his campaign. He is the only candidate for state-wide office since Ann Richards to so completely incorporate all of Texas, including rural Texas, into his campaign and made it part of his strategy.
Some will argue that Thierry does not have the money or the name recognition to win. They argue we should nominate the candidate with the best chance of beating Ted Cruz based on money, name recognition, their position on the issues, or some other criteria. But our job as rural advocates is to speak for the marginalized and the forgotten in rural Texas. The only thing we care about is who is the candidate that we believe will best represent and take care of all of Texas, not just the urban, suburban and the rich and powerful. Based upon the track record of the candidates in the Democratic Primary for the U.S. Senate, the only one who is doing what we believe needs to be done for the good of the party and the state long term is Thierry Tchenko. He has proven his commitment to go everywhere, listen to everyone, and represent all Texans. We urge all rural Democrats to vote for Thierry Tchenko for U.S. Senate on March 5, 2024.