Taking Back Texas
As the message below from Texas Democractic Party Chair Charles Soechting notes, there was encouraging news for Texas Dems, once you looked below the federal races:
For the first time in 32 years we have gained ground in the legislature. Since 1972 we have lost seats or just barely held our ground. This year we gained 1 seat and we won it in the best way possible- the 20 year incumbent House Appropriations Chair, Talmadge Heflin, was defeated by Hubert Vo. Heflin is the architect of the plan that cut more than 150,000 kids off of their health insurance and has shown a callousness toward the people of Texas that would make Tom DeLay blush. Hubert Vo beat him with a great campaign and the people of Texas will benefit.
We also defeated 2 of the freshmen GOPers who were at the center of the TRMPAC scandal- Jack Stick lost to Mark Strama in Austin and Ken Mercer lost to David Leibowitz in San Antonio.
In Dallas County we elected a Democratic sheriff- Lupe Valdez, the first female sheriff of Dallas County. We also elected some new judges there and our friends who came up short lost by less than a percentage point. Dallas County will be in the Democratic column in 2006 and 2008. Harris, Travis and Bexar Counties also saw an increase in their Democratic vote and with more than a third of our electorate in those 4 counties- Dallas, Harris, Travis and Bexar- we are in very good shape for 2006.
In Travis County, we also prevailed at the courthouse and elected our first African-American sheriff.
Kerry's loss also improves the prospects for 2006 Congressional candidates in Texas. On Tuesday afternoon, when we were hearing the false exit poll data and when many of us were thinking that Kerry was on his way to winning, I realized that a Kerry victory would be a disaster for Texas' Democratic Congressional candidates in 2006. The general rule is that the party not in the White House is favored in off year elections. With Kerry in the White House, Democratic candidates in Texas would be fighting against Repubs determined to exact revenge for Bush's defeat. Now, with the shoe on the other foot, we can anticipate that Texas Dems will have a great opportunity in 2006 to take to the voters a message of fiscal responsiblity and national security at home and abroad.