Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dinner with John Sharp and a photo with James Rodriguez

Two items creating a minor stir in the blogosphere. Matt and Vince had a sit-down with Sharp at Sullivan's Monday night ( I was invited but was unable to be in Austin for the session's opening). Matt wasn't bowled over:

Sharp is knowledgeable on the history of our party in Texas. His credentials are hard to argue with, but he has made some choice that make it hard to call him a Democratic devotee. Something White can't claim either after this election cycle.

However as much as I disagreed with Sharp on certain points, it was hard not to be impressed that he was courting the online community. The over-priced steaks, sides, and cocktails made that clear, but what wasn't clear is why. He clearly has an antiquated way of looking at the possible solutions to our economic plight. He rarely offered a statement of hope or a vision for a better tomorrow. What we heard was doom and gloom over ahi tuna and potatoes au gratin.

The event only left me more skeptical than when I entered.

I remain uncommitted in the race, but I also remain unimpressed and uneasy. It is hard to imagine a world were the Republican Party actually let's Kay run for Governor. While she might loathe, D.C. the margins are too narrow for the Republican Party to let her go quietly into the sunset and run for her dream job.

For a race that doesn't exist yet, we give it too many mentions and too many inches. We are being courted, but not the way it needs to happen. Chocolate fountains will never be the way. As one blogger put it tonight, a phone call or personal e-mail will suffice or perhaps a cup of coffee or a bagel.

It was interesting to meet John Sharp. His story is one of the final chapters of Democratic dominance in Texas, but his legacy may not be Texas' future.

But Vince was:

Given that it was a blogger gathering, Sharp also got a lot of questions about strategy–specifically strategies about a statewide GOTV effort. Though we’re not going to go into details on that so as not to let Republicans know what his early strategy is, Sharp has a plan for a statewide GOTV effort that would be a much greater and truly statewide effort that we haven’t seen in Texas in a while. And, we’re not talking a bunch of robocalls, either.

On that topic, it is interesting to note that Sharp grasps an important point: East Texas can’t be written off in a statewide campaign. For one thing, it is necessary to run up numbers in East Texas to offset Republican strongholds like Collin County.

Sharp, who is Catholic, also clarified his stance on a woman’s right to choose. Sharp has been referred to as “pro-life,” in a number of instances, but to take that to mean he is anti-choice is simply incorrect, as we heard tonight.

The best way of saying it is that Sharp, along with most people, doesn’t like abortions. But, overturning Roe v. Wade is another story. While Sharp, as a Catholic doesn’t like the practice, he does not believe it is appropriate for lawmakers (or anyone), “to say that because you don’t agree with [me] on that issue, you are a criminal or it should be made criminal or you should go to jail.”

Here is what I took from the discussion, and I think it is an accurate assessment: Sharp is both pro-life and pro-choice. While he may personally dislike the thought of an abortion (pro-life), he’s not going to vote to take away a woman’s right to choose (pro-choice). It is a sentiment similar to the one expressed by Chris Bell and other statewide candidates in 2006, and legislative candidates in 2008. As a progressive, it is a statement I’m comfortable with, because I don’t believe we’d see John Sharp vote against confirmation of a pro-choice judicial nominee or vote for additional restrictions on a woman’s right to choose. I may be wrong, but that is what I took away from the discussion.

And Mean Rachel didn't like Vince's take. Meanwhile Neal at Texas Liberal has stirred up a little something with this:

Should we trust Councilman Rodriguez? Will he be an effective representative of Houston’s Hispanic population, and for all persons in his district and in our city?
In Houston, it can be hard to pin down just where our political leaders stand. Party identification is easily obscured in our so-called non-partisan municipal elections. (Voter turnout is always low. And once elected, incumbent councilmembers are nearly unaccountable at the ballot box until term limits force them out.) Take, for example, the photo above. In the center you see Republican Bill King. On either side of Mr. King are members of his so-called issue study group.
Mr. King has been considering a run for citywide office in 2009. So why is a Democrat like Mr. Rodriguez sitting with Mr. King? Seated to the right of Mr. King is Democratic State Representative Senfronia Thompson and, next to Rep. Thompson, one Jessica Colon. Ms. Colon is identified as ”national chair of the Young Republicans.”

Neil also posted responses to that from Carl Whitmarsh and others who reacted with disdain. Stace also had a comment about Rodriguez.

These items are worth following because our little blogger's clubhouse is still growing in influence. That we disagree over candidates and campaigns, and don't simply blow one horn or sound the same tune reflects IMHO a healthy diversity.

Be sure and follow the conversations.

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