Talk about a fascinating experience - TCR with press credentials and covering the State Democratic Convention in Houston last weekend.
The first thing you would probably ask is, how did you pull this off? Well, your editor hosts a long time political talk show in Houston with a Democratic co-host and we were invited to do our show from the convention. We taped enough for three shows - interviewing Democrats from Gary Mauro & Nick Lampson to candidates, peace activists and others. Probably the most interesting thing for me was my visit to the exhibition areas where I interviewed various folks from the State Democratic Party to the Gay Rights people to the anti-Bush crowd and also areas of sanity like - Pro-Life Democrats, Fair Tax people and the Texas State Rifle Association.
Now for the answers to questions TCR has been asked:
Housing Prices - Are We in the Bubble Stage?
- How were you treated? Mixed, many Democrats recognized me and were impressed we were covering the convention, others like Chris Bell said your Editor was "spying" and some came up to TCR and started attacking your editor, Bush, Perry, DeLay and the GOP.
- Is the state Democratic Party still on life support? It depends. The convention attendance was up from 4500 two years ago to 8000 in Houston with 70% new delegates. The grass roots seem to be on the way back. The elected officials, especially the legislators for the most part, are spoiled brats who can't deal with being in the minority. Some Democrat's vilified Representative Sylvester Turner for accepting the Speaker Pro-Tem and working with Speaker Craddick. The State Democratic party leadership is dazed and confused with a dismal record of fielding candidates.
- Why did Chris Bell just before the convention file an ethics complaint against Tom DeLay? It's just politics. After unsuccessfully running against DeLay in his primary that he lost to African American Democrat Al Green, Bell is a politician looking for his next opportunity. He sponsored a reception for delegates at the convention and got a coveted speaking spot for a defeated candidate. Bell's plan is to run statewide - Senate, Governor or whatever. TCR wonders if you can't win as an incumbent in a Democratic leaning district how can you win statewide?
- What is Dr. Richard Murray up to? Murray is smart - he understands the GOP came to power via advancing powerful ideas. At the convention he was circulating plans for a private funded think tank to develop issues, do polling and network to advance the Democratic Party. This means the D's are going to join the battle of ideas at a time where the state GOP is losing its focus. More on this in a future issue.
- What is the mood of the Democratic grassroots? Angry. It's interesting, four years ago our GOP base had it with Clinton-Gore. Four years ago, the non-fiction best-seller's list dealt harshly with them, our talk show lines were full of Clinton-Gore haters and our base was highly motivated to get back the White House. If you were at the convention, you would know we are 180 degrees from where we were. Anti-Bush books are best sellers, a Bush-bashing movie is number one at the box office, the Democrats everywhere want to win bad and anti-Bush T-shirts were top sellers at the convention. TCR believes angry voters show up to vote.
- Did you have any culture shock moments? Yes, while interviewing the representatives of the Gay and Lesbian Democrats. TCR asked about T-shirts they were selling - one says "I do" and the other " I can't" - I'm sure you know the meaning - so we asked what "appeared" to be a woman what about Massachusetts and "she" said that doesn't help transsexuals. TCR believes that will be next if we let them legalize gay marriages.
- Any special interests that showed up at the convention that were no shows at the GOP convention? Oh yes! Start with our union "friends" - the TSTA (teachers union), the Plumbers union, Texas AFL-CLO, UAW, and then the liberal lawyers, and candidates - like Peter Brown (running again for Houston City Council as) a "nonpartisan" candidate.
- What remains the Democrats biggest problem? Their problem is still quotas and non-mainstream special interests. The National Convention delegates still are divided by race, gender, sexual orientation etc. TCR counted forty-five (45) separate caucuses meeting - from such odd groups as the Secular Humanist caucus, Progressive Populist Caucus, Lesbian, Gay, and bi-sexual, and transgender caucus, Medical Marijuana Caucus, and every race based group you can think of including three different Hispanic caucuses! These many caucuses get in the way of unity and divide the party.
- Any closing thoughts? Yes, the Democratic Party reminds us of the GOP in the late 70's, growing and expanding and eager to get in power. They have a way to go - with pro-gun, pro-life and pro-fair tax and others. There was much more diversity than our convention which may portend a recognition by some Democrats they are out of touch on some issues and need to be accommodating. A Democratic Party that mutes difference with the GOP on core issues, while speaking to its traditional base could be "back" sooner than we believe. The lesson to be learned is we need to work hard to stay on top. See our last issue for ideas on what the state GOP needs to be doing.
Once in a while TCR delves into economic issues because the economy can affect politics. Many of you have followed the rapidly rising prices for houses in the U.S. You can buy houses with 103% financing or with no down payment and 10 year interest only payments! In other words, little or no equity. In Texas, if you're not selling it only means your property taxes go up 8-10% per year (that's not a benefit to you).
House values are now off the charts - we know that because you can't buy a house and rent it out and cover your costs. Traditionally this means the price of the house has reached over-valuation.
The housing price bubble breaks when interest rates rise and that could be coming and if it does house prices will, turn down and homes will be increasingly illiquid. Politically, if this happens prior to the fall elections this will be trouble for the GOP even though it's not our fault.
US Supreme Court - Where Are We Headed?
Columnist Stuart Taylor, Jr. in the National Journal of June 19, 2004 raises an intriguing question whether the Court given the "new" standard instituted by Democrats that require sixty votes to confirm a nominee.
If you assume no party will have 60 plus members of the U.S. Senate, confirmation of a candidate acceptable to the GOP or the Democrats will be impossible. In fact, the court quorum has been reduced from six to five last year and five to four this year.
It is entirely possible the court will start shrinking to seven in 2005, six in 2007 and four in 2008 and be stalemated to boot. Oh, what the Senate Democrats have sown.
2006 Rumors Central
Despite TCR pleadings, the scuttlebutt of rumors regarding 2006 statewide races continues. Here are the latest possibilities:
- Rick Perry (I)
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Carole Keeton Strayhorn
- Secretary Don Evans
- U.S. Senate
- Kay Bailey Hutchison
Any GOP Texas Congressman
- Lt. Governor
- David Dewhurst (I)
Carole Keeton Strayhorn
- Attorney General
- Greg Abbott (I)
- Paul Bettencourt
As other names surface, we will alert you.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last three years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.
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