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Latinos For Texas Endorses Rep. Glen Maxey for State Party Chair

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LFT’s Austin May meetup was a well-attended rousing success with all three candidates for state party chair in attendance and openly and enthusiastically answering questions from LFT members. It really is gratifying to see regular folks engaging in politics, and for State Chair candidates to give of their time and energy over tacos and beer. So, thank you to Glen Maxey (site | Fundraiser), Boyd Richie and Charlie Urbina-Jones.

There were quite a few great questions (’what would you do if money was not a problem?’, ‘how would you connect and include the Hispanic communities?’,'who have you mentored and how?’), and the answers were telling.

I think one of the best answers was from Glen Maxey, who said, “We must mentor, teach, and create organizational systems to get people involved. I believe in the power of individuals to do amazing things. We need to empower people by giving them tools, encouragement, and training to make a difference.”

It was quite civil, and while there is lots of overlap in the candidates’ love of the Party, there are meaningful differences on which to base a choice. Both Boyd and Charlie had good things to say of Glen. Charlie offered that, “Glen Maxey is as smart as they come. He can kick ass and take names.” while Boyd Richie said, “Glen Maxey is a good man.”

Glen likewise had good words about the candidates, which was nice since sometimes in the blogosphere we read mostly sniping and disparaging commentary. What was useful about this candidate discussion was seeing for ourselves what these folks have to offer, and how they offer it.

A Broad but Useful Frame
I will go with Charlie’s general framing, which is not so far off i think: Boyd is the establishment candidate, as Boyd’s mailer’s endorsement list and the very fact he was appointed by the SDEC as interim chair seem to confirm, and that Charlie and Glen are the candidates for change in the system.

I think this is a reasonable assessment, from which follows: If you think things are going good with the Tx Dem party, stay the course and elect the establishment candidate. The party would be in caring hands, but will it move to where we need to move to win elections, and improve Texas?

Or, if you desire deeper structural change, which of the change candidates has communicated a vision of what things can be, and can show more leadership experience as both an elected official and a campaign, candidate and community organizer to get the Texas Democratic Party there? That answer is clearly Glen Maxey.

So why Glen? Vision, Communication, Experience

Glen Maxey won the caucus, i think, because he was able to present both a vision of what the Party can and should do, and strategies for doing it. His site has the details, and in person it really comes across that Glen believes in and understands the challenges, knows there is no one magic bullet so he comes prepared with specific experience including both cutting-edge technology and old-school in-the-field action, in blue and red and swing districts, and in rural and urban, black white and brown communities.

Glen’s answers repeated a theme we wholeheartedly endorse — rebuilding the engine(s) so that every county, every precinct, EVERY VOLUNTEER, every JP race on up drives the Democratic party. Much digital ink gets spilled over Glen’s technology strengths, which are often then held-up straw-man style as a weakness because some are willing to pretend that is his only strength — and that couldnt be further from the truth. email and onlinephonebanking didnt get 85,000 new people registered in travis county in 2004, 25,000 door hangers werent e-hung in one weekend, and thousands of activists didnt give up weekends and evenings based on technology databases. Of course, the coordinating of that activism thru technology, where it could, certainly helped.

Average people didnt get involved because Travis is blue, Travis is blue because we developed ways to get average people involved!

Glen’s answer to ‘How would you get Hispanics involved and voting?’ was also a clear winner to me. It was specific: mentor and run Hispanics everywhere we can, dont just offer symbolic seats at the table, offer guidance and support to everyone (as he did with State Rep Eddie Rodriguez) to step up to the head of the table. For those that want to serve in other ways, develop and disseminate training and tools so that everyone can be integral to the party.

Charlie Urbina-Jones’ ‘yo soy mexicano’ answer didnt do it for me. no one is voting dem because the state chair is half mexican, speaks spanish and went to a black university. i can see where he is coming from, but i gotta tell ya that a more compelling strategy to get people to vote dem is when they understand it improves their lives, via greater opportunities for their family, and they see it in the (judgeships, commissioners, state reps, etc) leadership positions.

Another excellent question was ‘what would you do if all the money was available?’
Boyd Richie had a good specific reponse: get more professional field staff. “At the state level, having such resources would mean you are able to have the professional staff you need to build infrastructure. We’ve got to rebuild the party structure in the counties. Putting more directors in the field will make a difference.”

Glen Maxey’s response was broader and more compelling, “I believe in people power, message, and sheer determination. In 2002 we had a ticket and a gubernatorial candidate that did lay the golden egg. But the golden egg just means a different set of challenges. We must build permanent infrastructure that endures at the local level. I believe intrinsically in the power of individuals and not putting money into consultants, but into tools to empower all people.”

All that said, Boyd Richie really is a personable fellow who also cares deeply for the Party and its core values, and has a lifetime of experience to prove it. My constructive criticism is that i can see he cares and that he sees a big picture, but in person and from his site and his mailers, i dont see the specific details that embody enough change i need to be swayed that he is the best candidate for this job — the unpaid, and largely thankless job. He knows the ‘what’ at the high levels, but where are the ‘how’ answers?

Yes, there is strength in unity, yes we need to win elections in red and blue areas, yes we need put out messages and candidates which resonate, but how, specifically will you approach those layered and interlocked challenges (and the many more)? By uniting, and winning elections is too circular an answer for me, and i guess the meetup attendees as well.

When labeled as the ‘establishment’ and old-school candidate by Charlie Urbina-Jones, Boyd clearly bristled a little but remained civil. Boyd later claimed that label with pride, referencing his work for Ralph Yarborough when Boyd was just 10 years old. Boyd did a commendable job and is clearly confortable in the role, and, yes, really is a good guy. i think the meetup tho was just not convinced that he would be a better chair than the other candidates.

Meanwhile, Charlie Urbina-Jones knows how to throw some bombs. I appreciate his laying it out on the line, but positioned in essentially his own words as the ‘change’ candidate, its hard to see how he trumps Glen’s experience and trackrecord.

So, what do yall think?


9 Responses to “Latinos For Texas Endorses Rep. Glen Maxey for State Party Chair”

  1. LaGirlFriday Says:

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    I think it is hard for me to not be biased in Maxey’s favor. I love Eddie and I love what LFT has done. I know the numbers we produced as a group in ‘04 started with a phone call to Maxey (of course, I won’t leave out our blood, sweat, and tears.)

    I agree that Ritchie might be a vote for the status quo… but it was hard not to like the guy. As for Mr. Jones, I hold grudges. And I think I’ll always hold a grudge over the Castro/Berger race… cuz that’s just me. But seriously, how can you claim to be an anti-establishment Mexicano, but GOTV against a young Hispanic while working for a guy backed by “the” SA establishment? I would like to see him get Bexar better organized.

  2. 2 Cent Says:

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    Well, this is a better explanation as to why a delegate should vote for Maxey. The Deaniacs in Houston haven’t convinced me and Maxey knows when to throw the “Hispanics running everywhere” thing–when more than 5 Hispanics are in the room. He didn’t say it at the two events I attended, which were mostly white. Of course, Houston Mexicanos don’t support Mexicanos that aren’t in their little, ineffective establishment. But that’s a whole other story.

    Nice work you guys!


  3. Lila Says:

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    I agree that Ritchie seems like a vote for the status quo. But I must admit, he was very impressive. His election success record and gotv experiences really impressed me. It’s a shame that he is in many people’s minds associated to the disastrous Soechting era. If this were another time or if Glen weren’t running, Mr. Ritchie would definitely get my vote!

  4. Chito Says:

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    Can’t comment on the other two, but Maxey’s recent election track record is a concern. He headed up the opposition to the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment which lost horribly. He also played a big part in Austin’s SOS amedments, which also lost horribly. Everyone knew that the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment would pass, but I didn’t expect it to be by such a wide margin. The campaign tactics were pretty silly, too - did anyone beleive that the amendment would “accidentally” ban all marriages in the state of Texas? The SOS amendment campaign tactics were similar - the world will end if these propositions do not pass! They lost 75-25.

    Maxey has a distinguished record as liberal Dem and “leader of the opposition”, but will that translate to his being able to lead the party establishment? I don’t know.

    One more thing (the elephant in the room) - will Maxey’s sexuality be a weapon to be used against the Dems in coming elections? That horse has been beaten to death by the Republicans, so I can’t imagine that it will have much political effect. How will the Dems precinct and county chairs react? That will be interesting to see.

  5. LaGirlFriday Says:

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    In my view, it was the anti-SOS movement - who had boat loads of cash - claiming the world would end if 1 and 2 passed. And hopefully, others will look at Maxey’s work ethic and results vs. creating a wedge based on one fact. I have said this before, and no one agrees with me, but he should scream it from the mountaintop…. Personally, I am pro-gay and pro-choice… and I am damn tired of Dems running the other way or playing the fence. I want to see someone stand for his or her convictions.

    I’m sure we could critique everyone’s campaign decisions and find fault somewhere with something. But that doesn’t change Travis. Dems still won 11 out of 14 (if I remember right) races … from the top of the ticket to the very bottom… it took a lot of time and volunteers and oh, just a little direction from that guy Glen.

    Let me just ask… where else in the state will you find specialized signs targeted by district broken down to the street corner? Tell me, cuz I wanna know!

  6. mario Says:

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    hey chito: ya know you have some good questions.

    in travis NNN prevailed, and in hays it wasnt so stomped. in 90 days alot was accomplished, i think. what could we do in an *organized* texas with 400 days or 700 days?

    so, yep, the ‘wording’ thing was risky, but my personality at least appreciated its whole-different-tact in parallel to the obvious tactic about fairness and equality.

    strategies i like include re-defining the roles and the structure. It seems Glen is willing to try that, and i just dont see it coming from Boyd. i think Boyd’s ‘what would i do with unlimited money’ answer is soooo telling: its a good solid same-as-before-but-on-a-more-professional-scale-and-also-in-spanish answer.

    we will and should of course do that, but not JUST that. we gotta go for the “bold experimentation” i think, FDR-style. i mean we are at a low ebb, how many fewer seats should we hold before being willing to upset the whole cart trying new trails?

    and i think the way you ask it ‘[will glen be] able to lead the party establishment’ is a perfect chance to re-define the terms. what if glen and like-minded folks all over the state become the establishment (aka a takeover, in layman’s terms). i think many would love that leadership and follow with an vigor you never see today.

    glen has won and lost, and that to me is a good thing. given the three main choices for chair, i see all his experiences as an asset.

    if i knew football, i’d ask if anyone ever turned down a roger staubach trade after the cowboys lost a superbowl… ; )

  7. Chito Says:

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    Maxey definitely brings political skills to the table…he did a great job with the Dean campaign. Dean practically had to rent an apartment in Austin, he was here so much. The party establishment definitely needs to change and, like you say Mario, at this point what is there to lose? I just hope that Maxey’s focus is on the populist roots of Texas politics, and not the social issue of the day. I want to see the Dems focus on things like CHIP, state parks, education - good government programs that impact lots of people. The Republicans have dominated the intellectual and rhetorical political battle, but have not been able to govern effectively. That is what the Democrats have to offer, and that is where the focus of the party chair should be.

  8. Shellee Says:

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    So, I’ve only been in Austin for a year, but I arrived here having heard the legend of Glenn Maxey. As a Democratic activist from Dallas, I lurked in Austin before deciding where to direct my energy here.

    NNN was a no-brainer and I was even more excited to be there because it was a Maxey project. I attended the much hyped meeting where they announced the secret weapon–the “wording thing.” That was a complete distraction. I would have much preferred a very simple and direct framing of the amendment as an assault on America’s fundamental principles of fairness and equality. Creating a campaign that forced the average citizen to look directly into their own eyes that way would have been an FDR moment. Shifting to a strategy of semantics for the final days of the campaign felt desperate and delusional.

    More recently, the motivations that promoted the SOS amendments were inspiring but the amendments themselves were mired in what would have been bad policy making. After reading the amendments myself, I saw a picture of democracy by mob rule just as Aristotle had warned rather than any innovative proposal for genuinely open and effective government.

    As such, I couldn’t bring myself to stand with Glenn and the rest of LFT. I am, however, very grateful that Glenn is running. I believe he is pushing Boyd Richie to consider goals he may not have considered without such an outspoken and accomplished opponent.

  9. Lila Says:

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    Did you say CHIP? Glen is only the main author of CHIP. I highly doubt that he would permit Dems to look the other way in terms of this issue.
    As for the “mexicans running everywhere” thing, I don’t see anything wrong with knowing your audience, especially since I do not believe he was only blowing smoke up our pompis. I wish I had quick access to a letter of gratitude Glen sent to us — Mario, Kevin, and I — after helping with the podcast announcing his running for State Chair. In the letter he clearly expresses a desire to not only engage in outreach but to make engaging all communities so second nature that we don’t even require a word such as outreach.
    Glen is a demographically savvy individual that is well aware of the changing face of Texas. He has already committed to providing the “tools” — financial, technological, logistical, etc. — to anyone willing to work the streets and gotv. Now it’s up to us Hispanics to outstretch our arms and get these tools and use them to our advantage.

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