Saturday, July 11, 2015

Battleground Texas struggles to maintain relevance

If you're still wondering why Democrats in Texas cannot seem to find any traction despite the fact that the world's worst conservatives run this state lock. stock, and Jade Helm gun barrel... look no further than here.

It’s mid-summer, after the legislative session and before the proper start of next year’s election cycle, which means the state’s political organizations are in full churn. Politicos of all stripes are leaving politics for policy or vice versa, getting fired and promoted, and maybe leaving the game—or the state—altogether. That’s a normal part of life in politics, where jobs are often short-term and so is loyalty.

The same holds true at the high-profile organizing group Battleground Texas, where political director Cliff Walker will be stepping down next week. It’s the latest of a number of departures by Battleground senior staff since last year’s crushing electoral defeats. Walker, who had been with the organization since the beginning in 2013, was the highest-profile Texan in the group. As the relationship between Battleground and other parts of the Democratic coalition suffered during last year’s election due to mutual distrust, it fell to Walker, respected by other Texas Dems, to try to repair things.

But since November, a lot of Battleground’s founding notables have been looking for other work. A number of Obama campaign veterans have left for greener pastures in other states, including former Campaigns Director Ramsey Reid, former Communications Director Erica Sackin, and former Field Director Victoria Zyp. Former Digital Director Christina Oliver left the organization for a job at an Austin consulting firm owned by Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s former campaign manager. The departure of Walker means that a large part of the original Battleground brain trust is now gone.

That italic emphasis at the end there is mine.  I'm sure Ms Oliver is wonderful person with a fine family, as Ross Perot used to 'compliment' his political opponents.  Bless her heart (as the good Christians say), she just needs to put food on her family.

As wildly successful as BGTX was in the 2014 cycle, this self-implosion may not be a bad thing.  Texas is a goddamned tough state to be a liberal in, has been for almost a generation now.  I feel sure that wide-eyed Team Bluers think they can conquer it with the tools that work in places like Chicago or Los Angeles or New York, and then watch in horror as their battleships get sunk.

Political organizations like Battleground experience a high rate of turnover naturally. And for years, there’s been something of a conveyor belt taking talented Democratic political staffers away from Texas, or out of politics altogether—options that offer more rewarding work, and usually, bigger paychecks. Former Texas Democratic Party chief Will Hailer, who party leaders expected to stay for longer than one election cycle, jumped ship shortly after last year’s election for a Washington, D.C. consulting firm.

So Battleground’s staffing issues aren’t unique—a statement from the group called them “really normal transitions,” and pointed to the continuity of Executive Director Jenn Brown’s leadership—but they could pose a greater threat to the organization than progressive groups with deeper roots in Texas. One of the talking points when the group launched concerned Battleground’s ability to attract top talent from across the nation and fuse it with in-state know-how, helped along by a dedicated source of donor money. But it will most likely be harder for Battleground to recruit top talent now.

Whatever is left of the organization should probably be leveraged by the last of the deep-pocketed, legal eagle, azure-blue activist Mohicans, Steve Mostyn.  He's got a real good thing going with the Texas Organizing Project, so perhaps he can simply consolidate one outfit with the other, despite their somewhat divergent efforts (TOP is minority-focused while BGTX has been decidedly Anglo, IMHO).

Jeff Rotkoff, who represents one of Battleground’s largest backers, Houston mega-donor Steve Mostyn, praised Walker’s work and career and predicted he would “continue to be an important member of [the] community in whatever comes next for him.”


Brown is currently developing what a statement from the group called a new “strategic plan for the organization.” In it, she’ll need to come up with fixes for a host of unresolved issues regarding Battleground’s place in the Democratic coalition. In particular, some Texas Democrats worried that Battleground would turn into an adjunct of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, to the detriment of efforts in local and legislative races. That has echoes of one of the major conflicts of the 2014 cycle—some candidates felt that Battleground’s focus on a divisive top-ticket candidate, Wendy Davis, hurt down-ballot efforts.

First question: Does anybody know who Mostyn is supporting for president?  Second question: with Clinton's new point person's boots on the ground here, and a promise to roll out a 50-state strategy and build the Democratic bench and all that, who's going to be held accountable if/when a Clinton-Castro ticket still can't carry Texas against the likes of, say... Donald Trump?

Ultimately, Hillary Clinton is going to use Texas the way every other Democratic presidential nominee has used us for the past twenty years: as an ATM plugged into the elites, and as a farm system for fresh-faced young people who are willing to work for nothing, subsist on pizza for a year, and walk lots of blocks and make hundreds of phones calls in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado.

Please, someone make a case for how I am wrong.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

You're not wrong, sadly. And, I'm sure Ms. Oliver could have found "food" long before the Cornyn-connected job. Good riddance.