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Revisiting the Anchor Holding Texas Down: Texas Democratic Party's Ineffectiveness
The stagnant leadership of the Texas Democratic Party is hindering us from progress.
We’ve hit our second Sine Die for the year, an impeachment looming, and the State Party has remained primarily absent/quiet for the year. Recently, my good friend Olivia Julianna posted a Twitter thread I’d like to share with you.
She makes a lot of good points, and it’s time we revisit the biggest anchor holding Texas down and preventing us from flipping the state.
A few months ago, I was invited to an online event to hear Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa discuss the 2024 Strategy. So naturally, I accepted, optimistic that perhaps there would be something he would say to give me hope to show that he recognizes this state’s challenges and plans to do something different than in our previous election losses.
It’s taken me a while to tell you what I learned because there is no way to paint a pretty picture. I’ve written and scrapped this article twice already.
So, I will tell you why the Texas Democratic Party has been absent during the legislature, why we haven’t heard from them about the May elections, and their plan for 2024. But please don’t feel discouraged or defeated because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I’ll tell you about that light, but bad news always comes first.
The blame game.
In 2018, 2020, and 2022 Hinojosa told everyone that Texas had not flipped because the National Party wasn’t investing enough in Texas. It’s all about the money; in Hinojosa’s mind, that money should come from the National Party. Still, the National Party allegedly doesn’t see any value in spending in Texas.
After the 2022 election, several Democratic candidates contacted me to tell me they asked the state party for help, but the party refused. Hinojosa told those candidates the state party couldn’t help because the national party didn’t think their seats were flippable. So, those candidates received no support.
So, under Hinojosa’s leadership, the state party has sat back and done nothing to advance a Democratic initiative in this state because the National Party hasn’t held their hand and showered them with money in the process.
It gets worse.
There is a rumor that the DCCC plans on only investing in flipping one Congressional Race during the 2024 election. That election would be Congressional District 15, Monica De La Cruz, who should never have even won in the first place. Other districts in Texas are flippable, so why are they only focusing on one? Because the DCCC doesn’t plan to invest any more money in Texas until Chair Gilberto Hinojosa steps aside.
Chair Hinojosa has no plans of stepping aside.
It’s a stalemate. Whether because of ego, pride, or something else, Hinojosa seems bound and determined to hand over our state to fascism by sinking the state party.
The virtual event.
It was supposed to encompass 12 counties, and all county and precinct chairs were invited. There should have been hundreds of people on that call. There weren’t. Only 15 people were in attendance, and I was the only one under 65. Hinojosa was the only person of color.
So, a handful of old, white people talked about flipping the state when we needed to convert the Black, Hispanic, and youth votes. At one point, Hinojosa even mentioned how people must overcome their fear of going into those neighborhoods to reach out to those communities. He was talking to all the old white people on the call, but it spoke volumes.
Hinojosa spoke about Beto’s campaign, claiming that Beto lost because of the money. He said that Beto was on track to win until September, then Abbott pumped a lot of money into negative commercials on TV during the last leg of the race, securing Abbott’s win.
Unfortunately, the lack of political infrastructure and GOTV efforts sunk Beto. Nothing else, and that is placed solely on the feet of the Texas Democratic Party.
Hinojosa said that half of the staff was focused on the State Legislature. However, the Texas Democratic Party was largely absent from the 88th Session.
As it turns out, half the staff only equaled one person. She spoke after Hinojosa and repeated repeatedly, “I’m only one person; I’m only one person.” What she’s been doing is analyzing the bills and then giving the Democratic Reps a list of questions to ask the authors of bills in committees.
During the 88th Legislative Session, we saw members from the Republican Party of Texas, their executive committee, and even their chair Matt Ranaldi show up for countless committee hearings to testify in favor or against bills. They do this to ensure that the Senators and Representatives know where they stand on each bill. Yet, the Texas Democrat Party was absent from these committee hearings.
Gilberto Hinojosa ran for re-election in 2022, knowing that his lack of strategy in 2018 and 2020 sank us. He allegedly won that race, but there are a lot of questions about the legitimacy of that win. Regardless, running and winning should have been his rallying cry to improve the party, to improve the strategy, but he seemingly wants to remain with the status quo.
Chairman Hinojosa’s lack of vision and work ethic is like an anchor on the neck of every Democrat in Texas.
If our side believed in conspiracy theories, we might speculate that he was a paid GOP operative tasked with bringing the Democrats down.
The top three Republicans in the state (Abbott, Patrick, and Phelan) have been fighting on the best way to cut property taxes. M & O, compression, homestead exemptions, and a lot of other jargon in their argument is being thrown around. But there is nowhere on the internet or social media where the Texas Democratic Party is explaining the tax situation or highlighting the dysfunction of the Republican party.
A few weeks ago, Chairman Hinojosa put out a press release regarding the impeachment vote for Ken Paxton in the House. After Bryan Slaton’s expulsion and a damming article from the Texas Monthly about Tom and Christi Craddick’s deep corruption, the TDP should but constantly messaging about how corrupt the Republican Party in Texas is. Yet, they’ve been silent.
Throughout the legislature this year, local control was under attack. Democratic voters are strong supporters of local control. It’s one of the TDP’s planks on their platform. They should have been messaging statewide about how local control was being stripped away. Unfortunately, the state party has again abdicated this issue to the Conservatives.
We need a new party chair and updated state party structure that competes in a 21st-century 24-hour multi-media news cycle, focused on electing progressive Democrats in the primary in March so they can win against the GOP in the general election in November.
Here is the messaging committee for the Texas Democratic Party:
Engaging and mobilizing Black, Hispanic, and youth voters should be the top priority in building a solid and inclusive democratic movement.
These demographic groups represent significant portions of the population and possess the potential to shape election outcomes and policy priorities. However, the predominantly older and white leadership hinders effective outreach to these communities.
Last week the New York Times published an article about how Texas is the place where democracy goes to die. They’re right. And we’re letting it happen because we have no leadership.
Here are the questions we all need answers to:
Hinojosa is not up for the job and has failed us several times. Why won’t he resign?
It takes 1/3 of the SDEC or County Party Chairs to open an investigation into the removal of Hinojosa and 2/3 actually to remove him. Knowing he’s failed us many times before, why won’t these SDEC members and County Party Chairs act?
Don’t Democrats want to win Texas?
Why do they believe we can win with someone with a long record of losing?
The TDP does not have a winning strategy for 2024.
The national party and all of Texas’ major donors have sworn that they won’t donate to the Texas Democratic Party as long as Hinojosa is chairman. They know it’s a waste of money because the effort and work aren’t there.
The State Party has now started asking the volunteers they rely on free labor from for donations. Precinct chairs and party members are supposed to step up and donate both free labor and cash because the TDP can’t get it anywhere else.
We’re going to have to rely on grassroots organizations and voting groups to flip this state. Although, since we’ve long been purple and Democrats outnumber Republicans, a functioning and active state party would guarantee a flip in 2024.
But we don’t have a functioning and active state party.
Now for the good news.
There are a ton of grassroots organizations that see this problem and are working on a strategy on how they can overcome the TDP’s failures and turn out the vote. There are dozens of groups involved, and I’ve been lucky enough to be part of some of those talks. It isn’t a hopeless situation, but we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. Since this new strategy is still in the discussion phase, I don’t want to spill the beans quite yet. But by the end of the month, I’ll be able to lay it all out for you and hopefully give you some encouragement.
In the meanwhile, we need to keep demanding better from the largest Democratic organization in the state. Texas deserves better, and a functioning Democratic Party is imperative at a time when we’re seeing so much political friction.
The battle carries on.