Some observations on this year's State Democratic Convention in Ft. Worth:
- The Dems are on the way back. This was the most energized and the best attended convention that I have been to in the last decade. Attendance was significantly up over attendance at the 2000 convention in Ft. Worth when seemed way to big. There is a large base of active young party members that have stayed involved since the 2004 election.
- We've got strong leads at the top of the ticket with Bell and Radnofsky. Both can be very competitive, if they get the money. Hank Gilbert also will be a very strong candidate for Ag. Commissioner.
- Much of the energy at the convention was a result of the race for party chair, both from the campaigning in the weeks before and at the convention. Things got off to an unscripted start Friday night when a petition was presented from the floor to challenge Bob Slagle for Convention Chair. The challenge was defeated, but Slagle went on to provide a much more spirited and responsive performance as Chair than he has in previous years.
- Maxey lost the race for chair on the second ballot. After the first ballot, it was clear that he needed to pick up ~85% of the votes received by Charlie Urbina-Jones and Lakesha Rogers in order to overcome Boyd Richie's 9% lead. Unfortunately, on the second ballot the Urbina-Jones and Rogers votes were distributed pretty-much 50-50 between Richie and Maxey.
- The results were disappointing, but the gay and lesbian supporters of Maxey that I was sitting with took it particularly hard. It was apparent that many of the votes against Maxey were due to his sexual orientation and to fears over how it might be perceived if a gay man led our party. They took it as a rejection of them as much as of Maxey. It was as disheartening a display of prejudice as I have seen since Ron Kirk's loss in 2004.
- There were fewer public parties this year, but the parties were very well attended. Bell had a great party at a former rail depot. The blogger party was very well attended, but I got there late, and by then, it was too geeky, even for me. There did seem to be a number of semi-private room parties.
- This can be a turn-around year for the Dems, but we all have a lot of work to do before November.
- I was amazed at the LaRouche organization's continuing ability to attract young people, particularly given that they have nothing to show for their decades of effort. Lakesha Rogers was an impressive young woman, though, and I hope that she will find a constructive role in the party.
has a collection of speeches and videos from the convention.