Showing posts sorted by relevance for query cliff walker. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query cliff walker. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Just say No to Gilberto, Texas Democrats

Update (6/23, 1:45 p.m.): They didn't.  See updates at the end of this post.

The slick 4-page magazine-style mailer, front pictured above, that I received earlier this week indicates how seriously El Patron is taking his re-election campaign.

Inside, among other horn-tooting, is a list of accomplishments Hinojosa claims as his but were actually worked by Cliff Walker (more here) who stopped following me on Twitter after I stopped Tweeting about the Green Party and became a critic of the Texas Democrats.  Previous mentions in this space of Walker, including the following excerpt from this post from last July.

Maybe Cliff Walker can find Betsy Johnson, clean off her combat boots, and keep the Greens from getting to 5% again.  (The GP already has to petition for ballot access next year, thanks to the two afore-mentioned in 2016.)

So Walker's done his job, and maybe Hinojosa should be rewarded for hiring the guy who got the Greens knocked off the ballot.  That's what good managers do, right?  Hire good people?

Or maybe it's a feather in his cap that the state party's staffing and the fundraising to pay them is in tip-top shape.  If that's true (it's not easy to find a financial disclosure for the party online, and they aren't current and don't reveal much, but there will be a treasurer's report delivered this afternoon at the SDEC meeting) then maybe things look better for the TDP than they do for the statewide slate of candidates, who are suffering badly from too little green, especially when compared to their TXGOP rivals and unlike Democratic Washington DC hopefuls like Beto O'Rourke and your respective D running for the US House of Representatives (about which much has already been blogged and written).  The TexDems appear to still be searching for a coordinated campaign fundraising director, and back in December refused to return the cash raised at an Al Franken money haul.

But this is mostly old news; maybe their coffers have filled a bit since the runoffs gave us the November ballot a month ago.

For his part, Hinojosa raised or loaned himself $4k and spent about half of it in the period from January to May of this year; I suspect his recent mailer cost a lot more than that, so we'll have to wait to see how he did over the last 30 days once his most formidable challenger, Mayor Cedric Davis, was identified.

I should point out that perennial state chair candidates Rachel Barrios-Van Os and Fidel Acevedo ought to only be in this race to split the Latinx vote in order for Davis to get to a runoff with El Patron.  They are unserious and unqualified for the job, and I think most delegates know this by now.  Four years ago (and also six), when I blogged this race -- and its outcome and some post-convention thoughts also -- and Texas Observer founder Ronnie Duggar endorsed her, I thought perhaps there might be a chance for some progressive change.

I also had a much higher opinion of the Van Oses than I do today.  Today I find them to be the most masochistic people I have ever met in politics.  They never seem to get enough of the ridicule, rejection. and abuse from the Donkeys and keep going back for more.  If her husband had allowed himself to go Green a few years ago after the first or second rebuke -- more importantly, if she had allowed him to -- the state of progressive politics in Texas would look a lot different today.  Ifs and buts, candy and nuts.

Vote for Cedric Davis, delegates.  More Tweeting about the TDP convention at the top right column over the weekend.

Update: I should have also pointed out that Sen. Borris Miles hosted a breakfast for SD-13 delegates two weeks ago at which Hinojosa made an appearance, so both men have been busy shoring up El Patron's credibility with the African American caucus.  I'm following the Texas Black Dems Twitter feed to see if -- and who -- they endorse; that'll be the key.  At this point (early Friday morning, 6/22) they haven't recommended any of the three black women running for vice chair.

Update II (6/22 3:30 p.m.): The Texas Coalition of Black Democrats endorsed Dr. Carla Brailey for vice chair, with 52% of their vote.

Update III (6/23. 1:45 p.m.) El Patron gets two more years.  Let's see if he can turn out the La Raza vote this autumn, or simply present a coherent message.

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.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yellow journalism: the Chron chickens out

Positively shameful.

In 24 newspapers around the state, a full-page ad ran today with a picture of Gov. Rick Perry and the word "coward" in large, capital letters. Back to Basics PAC, the anti-Perry group behind the ad, were hoping that number would be 25.

The Houston Chronicle (which happens to be hometown paper of Back to Basics' main funder, trial lawyer Steve Mostyn) opted not to run the ad. It turns out they were the only ones. It passed muster at every other paper the political action committee approached, including the state's other major dailies.

"It is kind of a glaring omission," says Back to Basics spokesman Cliff Walker. "Basically, the content that was accepted at 24 other papers was rejected."

This sort of thing goes up the chain of command, so the person who killed it was the publisher, Jack Sweeney.

"We were more than happy to run the ad if Back to Basics changed the headline," says Naomi Engel, a senior marketing representative at the Chronicle. "They declined."

Alternatives were explored, but to no avail.

"There were some recommendations on adjustments," Walker acknowledges. "We said, 'No,' and that was it."

They have compelled me to cancel my subscription. But I'm going to be certain the circulation department understands why, and further, there will be no more excerpting of their stories here. I'm also going to deactivate my account for commenting on their stories and blog posts.

I just can't support cowardice like this.

(I'm guessing that the Chronicle isn't in line to sponsor a gubernatorial debate either.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Got any Democrats in mind for governor in 2018?

Because it sure doesn't seem like the Texas Democratic Party does.  The most recent post on the topic that Google returns for me (if you don't count the Castros' turndowns in May) is dated February 9 of this year -- five months ago -- and is a bit of rumor and off-the-record chat collected by the TexTrib about a private meeting at the end of the previous month.

In late January, a high-profile forum for candidates vying to be the next Democratic National Committee chair brought hordes of Democrats to Houston ready to plot the party’s national future. But for Texans in the party, the more consequential meeting may have occurred the day before in Austin.

A tight-knit group of Texas Democratic leaders traveled to the state capital that day to begin preliminary conversations about the 2018 midterm races.

According to over a dozen interviews with Texas Democratic insiders and national Democrats with ties to the state, the meeting included some of the party's most well-known figures from Texas including former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, his twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Texas Democratic Party Finance Chairman Mike Collier, former state Sen. Wendy Davis, state Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker and state Reps. Rafael Anchia of Dallas and Chris Turner of Grand Prairie.
Their main agenda: mapping out a strategy for the 2018 midterm elections.

You should already know what Collier and O'Rourke have decided to do.  It's highly doubtful Davis (who lives in Austin now) will make another bid for the Mansion, and Anchia and Turner have 'special session' on the brain.  Parker wants to run for Harris County Judge, but not if Ed Emmett is still there, and he's still going to be there in 2018.  Of these, perhaps Turner or Anchia will be so frustrated after the special and Abbott's heavy hand that they'll throw their hat in.  Some things haven't changed in the last six months, however.

The expectations in the room were not soaring but were cautiously hopeful. That optimism was mostly rooted around one person: President Donald Trump.

Uh huh.  Maybe Cliff Walker can find Betsy Johnson, clean off her combat boots, and keep the Greens from getting to 5% again.  (The GP already has to petition for ballot access next year, thanks to the two afore-mentioned in 2016.)  In similar vein, the two most vulnerable statewide Republican incumbents have also drawn no challengers to this point.

Party insiders are also coveting two other statewide offices: attorney general and agriculture commissioner. The two Republican incumbents, Ken Paxton and Sid Miller, respectively, have faced a series of political struggles that could complicate their re-election campaigns.

So here's my prediction: as in 2006, there will be a few populist figures with little to no experience in elective office step up; the party won't find any money or other support for them, and ... you can probably guess what will happen.  Then in December of 2018, as all eyes turn to the presidential tilt in two years, the chairman of the TDP will stand up at a meeting of the SDEC and say, "It was a tough year; we focused on a few targeted races".

The House Democratic campaign arm recently announced it was eyeing three GOP-held congressional districts: U.S. Rep. John Culberson's 7th District, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd's 23rd District and U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions' 32nd District. Only the appearance of Hurd's district on the list was unexpected.

Democrats did not spend money in either Culberson's or Sessions' districts in recent cycles, but presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's performance there in 2016 encouraged the party to take a second look.

Yeah, they're swarming into the primaries against Culberson and Sessions.  The money race is already being reported, and thank Jeebus James Cargas isn't winning that, either.

As for the statewide races?  I've seen this all before, and so have you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Scattershooting a few of my fellow bloggers

-- I was kind of saddened to read this.  It's chock full of all the fear and loathing of Trump that you have come to expect from various quarters of late, but the saddest part of it buys into the false logic, repeated ad infinitum, that voting for a third-party candidate -- particularly in a swing state -- is a waste.  A spoil, as even poor Bernie Sanders revealed when he declared himself to be a Democrat running for president a year ago.

Brother Neil formerly advanced that if he lived back in his home state of Ohio, he would vote for Clinton.  That's logic I share (although many Greens don't).  But that's not the same as considering a vote for Jill Stein in Ohio a waste, and if you believe that Texas is suddenly in Electoral College play -- and were also a Democrat, or Democrat-leaning -- then your vote for a third-party would suddenly be in danger of being accused a "spoiler".   Which tells you why some Democrats are so busy spinning that Texas is about to flip blue.  (Hillary's 'powering through' her pneumonia has surely ended whatever surge of that kind existed before last week).

There's both a public debate and a mathematical analysis that disproves the premise of wasted or spoiled votes, but I wouldn't expect any quivering Hillary fans to get it.  It's those folks still straddling the fence that I hope will be braver and smarter than this.

No, wait; the saddest part is that Neil's reason for switching to Clinton is that he thinks Julian Assange is a Russian agent, or in cahoots with Putin, or some of the other conspiracy theories advanced by the DNC after their email servers were hacked.  To be fair, there is a veritable mountain of circumstantial evidence that this could be the case, but no actual proof.  Smoke but no fire, as Clinton herself might say.  My opinion has always been that the content of what was in the leaked DNC emails was more critical than who hacked them, but that's another story Hillbots don't speak of.

Candidly, I think he's spent too many hours standing out in the sun holding a sign of late.  Anyway, if this is the kind of progressive you claim to be, then the word has lost all meaning.

-- Let's hold the lady at the beauty shop to account for the rumor she's spreading about Hillary leading Trump by double digits in Harris County.  She ain't writin' no blog down there in Fort Bend, after all.  It's going to be extremely difficult to hold a ten-point lead after Sunday's developments had it existed, either by rumor or something else, and I wouldn't have believed it a week ago.

Once again, for the sake of fairness: Clinton should win Harris County, and handily, and she should have some nice coattails for the judicials and others down the ballot.  But before 'a basket of deplorables' and 'overheated' became walking pneumonia, it could have been a much bigger win.

Not ever 55-45 Clinton, though.  I'll pull a Kuffner and remind you that Obama only carried Harris County by 50.5% over McCain in 2008, and by a scant eight-hundredths of one percent -- 49.39 - 49.31, or less than 1000 votes out of more than one million, one hundred thousand cast -- in 2012.  Somebody's pulling ten percent out of  their deepest, darkest nether region.  Maybe it's her big blue butt, probably someone else's, I don't know.

And speaking of Kuff ...

-- In this post a few weeks ago, the Betsy Johnson he linked to as running for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5, is not actually the Betsy Johnson running for that office.  I know this because I called the San Antonio office of her firm, which directed me to Austin, and the person answering her phone said specifically that she "is not a candidate for public office".

The funny part is that Betsy Johnson worked in Greg Abbott's OAG for ten years.  Which wouldn't necessarily make her a Republican... or a Democrat, for that matter.  But if she were a Democrat running for statewide office, what she would have to say about working for Greg Abbott might be newsworthy.  The Texas Democratic Party might even be trumpeting (no pun intended) it.

This is just an uncarefully researched mistake on Kuff's part, I feel certain.  But if you're going to pick fun at political candidates in other parties who don't have websites, or Facebook pages, or essentially any online presence whatsoever save a state bar listing, then you should be prepared to acknowledge your own party's.  (I contacted Cliff Walker, the man in charge of candidate recruitment for the TDP, who provided me the contact data for the Betsy Johnson in the most previous link, and the addresses match.  She did not return my phone call.)

Which is what I should do at this time with respect to Judith Sanders-Castro, the Green running for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5.  She has not returned my calls, either.

My chastened blog brothers and sister:

I kid because I care.  I feel embarrassed by the fact that our Little Alliance has withered and become such a joke over the past few years, and claim my share of responsibility for running some folks off with my abrasive manner.  But y'all need to get it right, especially since there's no Republican blogosphere locally or statewide remaining (Breitbart doesn't qualify as anything but propaganda) to keep you accountable, and our mainstream media remains a big fat corporate fail.

Now if I have made some mistakes or errors in judgment, I'm prepared to either admit them or defend them.  I expect no less from each of you.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Recount 2016 dies quietly, and a way forward

With Michigan's recount ended by federal by court order last Friday (despite some severe irregularities), the conclusion and subsequent certification of Wisconsin's vote, and the scolding rejection by a federal judge of the recounting in Pennsylvania this past Monday, the 2016 presidential election is to be finally determined by the Electors meeting in College on December 19.  There's some question as to how that might turn out, about which you've likely heard.  Don't get your hopes up is all I'm sayin'.  Jill Stein announced day before yesterday that any funds remaining from her effort would be donated to "groups dedicated to election reform and voting rights".  There are election lawyers disturbed by the outcomes of the erstwhile recounting, and there are bloggers happy/not happy about it, and the strife it caused within the Greens themselves.  Gadfly did his post-mortem a month ago; David Collins' is a week old, taking stock of the ending and looking ahead.

Jeffrey Koterba, above, perhaps speaks for the Greens on the other side of the internal divide from me.  Since the GP has not demonstrated they can raise large amounts of money from a donor base in small amounts (as both Stein and Bernie Sanders proved is possible, but only if you cater to Democrats' whims) then they're not going to grow.

I supported the recount and Jill Stein, still do and will going forward because, as blogged three weeks ago, I'm not so much of a purist as some.  I believe that with a shrinking electorate (Texas will be an exception, as I'll show in the next paragraphs) and thanks to the combined efforts of people like Trump's eventual Supreme Court nominee, Greg Abbott, Catherine Englebrecht, Kris Kobach, and many others -- the fastest way to greater relevance for US Greens (as blogged a month ago) is going to be to convince former Democrats like me, and more significantly some electeds, to come over and bring some of their professional campaign skills and tools with them.

The scale of the task remains massive: here in the Lone Star, Greens nearly tripled their share of the presidential vote in 2016 over 2012, but that translated into just 71,558 votes, or 0.80% (compared to 24,657 and 0.31%).  As you might already know, the next Green who bids for statewide office -- on the party line that must be secured via petition following the 2018 major party primaries -- must capture 5% of the statewide vote in order to hold that line in 2020.  That's easily done if the Texas Democrats fail to run in all the races, and impossible if they do not.

Using the same TXSoS numbers as above, and at the link here, the Texas electorate grew over the past four years from 7.993 to 8.969 million voters, or a 12% increase.  But despite the most favorable climate for third party growth in at least sixteen years, Jill Stein's share managed just a bit more than a 2.5% gain.  With an assumption that there will be another million Texans voting four years from now, and in order to reach 5% of that projected ten million voters in 2020, the next Green presidential candidate would have to earn -- not siphon -- 500,000 votes in Texas just to keep ballot access for the party in the 2022 midterm elections.

That's simply not going to happen absent a full collapse of the national Democrats, an extinction event long overdue but certainly more possible than it was on November 7, 2016.  Waiting for that Godot, however -- as the Democrats have helpfully demonstrated with the mythical Latino surge voter -- is folly.  If in the short term the DNC chooses soon-to-be-ex-Labor Secretary Tom Perez as chair instead of Sanders-supported Keith Ellison, there will be more erosion from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.  How much, quantifiably, can best be answered today with the words "not much" and "not enough".  All you need to do is look at Sanders' 33% share of the Democratic primary vote last spring to see that the Sandernistas in Texas were dutifully sheperded onto the Clinton bandwagon in time for November.

So as left-leaning bitter-enders agitate for something resembling reform with hopes the Democrats can engineer at least a White House comeback, the rest of us continue to endure the status quo: full GOP control, with Texas (and many other states, mind you) statewide races determined in the GOP primary and not the general, a state Democratic party apparatus moribund, unfunded, and at less than a 40% share and sinking.  Twenty-eighteen stands woefully small chances of moving that needle.

And as long as Texas Democrats can employ a recruiter like Cliff Walker and judicial candidates like Betsy Johnson, they can keep their finger in the dyke and prevent less than one percent of their potential vote leaking out to the Greens.  I say 'potential' because this is what Democrats believe: Green votes all belong to them, and no facts seem able to crack that shibboleth.  Maybe some day, but Team Donkey remains content to sell shit sandwiches as hope and change for the foreseeable future.

A pretty dim view of US progressivism generally and Texas particularly, irrespective of your being blue, green, or red, but an accurate one.  There is now a model for progressive populist activism, including electoral gains, but it will be necessary for those of us on the left to stop fighting with each other and work together, across party and even left-ideological lines.  A tall order, but at least there's some evidence it can be accomplished.

" ... I think the success of the Richmond Progressive Alliance as an electoral force really is due to the fact that it has taken an exceptionally ecumenical approach. It has welcomed people who are left-leaning Democrats, who are independents, who are registered members of third party like the California Greens or the California Peace and Freedom Party. There are members of different socialist groups. But it’s a broad charge, and under the banner of a local progressive movement, people have agreed to set aside disagreements that they or the organizations they belong to nationally might have about some issues in the interest of getting things done in a kind of united front at the local level. And that’s, as I’m sure you know, not characteristic left behavior in this country. Too often, people can’t get beyond their petty factional squabbles and ideological differences and [corroborate rather than compete]. So creating that kind of united front and kind of rebranding as the Richmond Progressive Alliance and welcoming people with different views and organizational affiliations on a left-liberal spectrum was really important."

More at the link from Steve Early, quoted above, and his book.