Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The TPA's 2008 Texan of the Year

Congratulations to Gerry Birnberg and Bill Kelly and all of the candidates, campaigns, volunteers who made the victories possible:

Harris County Coordinated Campaign Takes Top Honors; TexBlog PAC, Texans For Obama, Late Jim Mattox Named "Gold Stars" For 2008

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The Texas Progressive Alliance Tuesday announced that the Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign had been named its "Texan of the Year" for 2008.

Also earning recognition from the Alliance were Texans for Obama, TexBlog PAC, and the late Jim Mattox, who were each named "Gold Star Texans" for 2008.

Winning 27 of 34 countywide races in Texas' most populous county didn't happen overnight, and the Harris County Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign managed not only to win seats with quality candidates, but to increase Democratic voter turnout and revive the Democratic Party in Harris County.

"The Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign is a shining example of what is possible with the help and support of thousands of grassroots Democrats and a well-run party infrastructure," said Texas Progressive Alliance Chair Vince Leibowitz. "Every person who knocked on doors, made phone calls, and volunteered in Harris County should be very proud of what they accomplished in 2008," he continued.

The Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign is the Alliance's fourth recipient of its "Texan of the Year Award." The campaign joins former State Rep. Carter Casteel of New Braunfels, who won the award in 2005; Carolyn Boyle of Texas Parent PAC, who was feted in 2006; and the trio of state reps. Garnet Coleman, Jim Dunnam, and Pete Gallego who shared the honor in 2007.

The Texan of the Year Award is voted on annually by the members of the Texas Progressive Alliance, the largest state-level organization of bloggers, blogs, and netroots activists in the United States.

Here's a bit about the runners-up:

GOLD STAR TEXAN: Texans For Obama

Texans for Obama highlights what a group of activists and politicos can do when they work together. Texans for Obama never was formally part of the Obama campaign, but its size and influence made it a force in Texas politics. In 2007, before Senator Barack Obama had even announced he was running for office, Texans for Obama organized the largest rally in Texas political history with over 20,000 in attendance. Its leadership and numbers grew from Auditorium Shores. Once Senator Obama announced his candidacy, Texans for Obama became the Texas campaign. In a bizarre twist, they become the most interesting campaign in the nation after Super Tuesday and leading into the March 5 Democratic primary. With little early help from a national infrastructure, Texans for Obama talked to hundreds of thousands of Democrats in Texas and beyond. It educated Texas primary voters about the "Texas Two Step" or primacaucus system and even sparked a debate on the future of how the Democratic primary system will proceed. Novice political activists turned into seasoned political consultants overnight and a new generation of Democrats were born. This grassroots campaign's impact is still its infancy, but its potential is limited only by the imagination of everyday Texans.


TexBlog PAC is a group of seven members of the Texas Progressive Alliance that worked to help Democrats win back the Texas House in 2008. TexBlog PAC raised over $65,000 this year for Texas Democrats. Four of five endorsed PAC candidates went on to win their election, with each candidate receiving support in the online community as well as at least $6,000 each in contributions. The PAC also worked on a GOTV program in Travis County. Run entirely through volunteer efforts, TexBlog PAC made a simple yet strong contribution to Texas politics in 2008, and will only grow as the power of the netroots is realized across the state of Texas.

: Jim Mattox

Jim Mattox rose from a working class neighborhood in Dallas to the top of Texas politics, leaving an indelible mark on an entire era in state government and creating a legacy that continues to touch the lives of ordinary Texans every day. A luminary and a fighter, Jim Mattox was hailed in death as a man who, as "The People's Lawyer," helped shape Texas Government in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The son of a union sheet metal worker and a waitress, Mattox rose through the electoral ranks from the state legislature to Congress to the Attorney General's office, a post from which Mattox doggedly fought for the little guy. From taking on the airlines to the insurance industry on behalf of Texas consumers, his heart, always, was with the people. After unsuccessful runs for Texas Governor in 1990 and an attempt to regain the AG's post in the late 1990s, Mattox retired to a more private life, but continued to work for his party. Most recently, Mattox fought to change the complex and time consuming "primacaucus" system that plagued the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary in Texas, calling the system an embarrassment to the party. He spoke out on the issue about a week before his death in what would be his last public appearance. From taking on insurance companies to bringing a truckload of furniture to the Travis County Democratic Party Headquarters this summer after hearing the office was in need, Mattox was always helping the underdog.

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