I have been critical here of the decades long neglect of rural areas by the Texas Democratic Party. Now it is time to leave criticism behind. I did not write my previous articles to advocate for change at TDP. I wrote them as a way of fleshing out my own ideas and to explain why I believe the only way we can change what is happening in Texas is to operate outside of the official party structure. I am a Democrat. I support the Texas Democratic Party, but I no longer see the party structure as the place in which I can do the Democratic Party the most good.
If the party is ever going to pay attention to the interests of rural voters, rural Democrats are going to have to make them. I am convinced this means that at a regional level rural Democrats must create their own organizations, raise their own money and create their own political support networks and infrastructure. That is why I want to talk about something new we are launching today — The 134 PAC.
The genesis of this idea was first tossed around during my campaign for Congress. It is a Political Action Committee in that it is about raising and spending money. But it is more than that because its purpose is to build a vibrant, sustainable Democratic focused political infrastructure for rural Texas. This is not a two year project, or a four year project. It is a vision of what we want to do and accomplish in rural Texas over the next twenty to thirty years, perhaps even longer.
It is named The 134 PAC because there are 134 counties between El Paso and the I-35 corridor. While the issues impacting these counties are similar to all of rural Texas, we chose to focus on The 134 because this is where we live and the area we know best. In a larger sense however, The 134 is symbolic of the all of the rural places long forgotten and abandoned by the Texas Democratic Party.
As we begin we have three essential goals:
(1) Provide professional data analysis of the entire region and create accurate political models specifically designed for rural Texas;
(2) Provide professional marketing and message research to identify issues and effective messaging for rural Texas; and
(3) Recruit and train county chairs, and provide effective and timely support and services for county parties.
We are going to create our own identity and our own message as rural Democrats, and we are not going to let either the Republican or the National or State Democratic Parties do it for us.
If you would like to find out more, please visit our website at the134pac.org.
If you believe in what we are trying to do, we need your support. This effort will take money, lots of money. To be successful we need to raise at least $200,000 in 2021. For 2022 we will need even more. With help we can bring a level of professionalism and organization to rural Democratic efforts that we have not seen since Ann Richards was Governor.
Jon Mark Hogg is a lawyer in San Angelo, Texas, former Democratic County Chair of Tom Green County and former Democratic candidate for Congress.