What a last couple of days! I would not have believed some of the happenings had I not sat thru them and seen and heard them with my own eyes and ears. Over the last several months, I wondered to myself exactly how I would feel and react when this moment came. I can tell you tonight I still don’t know the answer to the question.
The day after the Democratic debacle of November 2010, I was about the first person to call for the resignation of Harris County Democratic Party Chair Gerry Birnberg. At the time, I stated how hard it was to do and that I considered Chair Birnberg a good and honorable man who was a friend. Unfortunately, when you have string of losses like Democrats in Harris County do, somebody must take the fall and you can’t fire the voters, so the next person in line is the party chair. One thing I have learned in the past 42 years of involvement is that the worst never really is and rarely was just as the best never really was an certainly isn’t. Somewhere along the line we go along, working our hardest to make sure we elect folk to public office who will implement those laws and policies we believe will make society a better place for the majority. We don’t always get that right, but as Senator Diane Feinstein has said, "Winning may not be everything, but losing has little to recommend it." And so we Democrats in Harris County under the leadership of Gerry Birnberg find ourselves in that situation and tonight, Chairman Birnberg honored his commitment to the Executive Committee and announced his resignation effective December 19 at which time a new chair will be elected by the committee in time to administer the 2012 Primary and run-off and complete his term. By that time, anyone interested in the position will have had time to file for election for the full term running for 2012-14. At this time, there is one candidate interested in the position and who is actively seeking signatures of Precinct Chairs to have his name on the ballot and that is Senate 15 Chair, Lane Lewis.
As I said, I am not sure how I feel about all of this. While in my head I know this is a necessary step in turning our ship around and head it to victory in the future and while I wish it had come sooner in the year, my heart aches for someone who has given much time and effort to achieve those victories and who, unfortunately fell short of his goal and now leaves, with this part of his agenda unfinished, but who can take great pride in some significant and continuing achievements during his term in office. None of us feels particularly good when we are not successful at what we set out to do, but Mr. Birnberg should take pride for many good and positive things accomplished since 2003. As a whole, things didn’t work out and a change in command is the next move hoping that is a positive step, but that alone is not a guarantee. Democrats have to have a leader who can inspire us, make us believe we can win again, implement programs to that end and competently fulfill the duties of Chair. Sounds like a job for Super person? Not really, just someone willing to give the time, effort an money towards the goal of working for the good of all rather than for the individual. And don’t forget, it takes more than a chair. It takes Electeds, it takes nominees, it takes precinct chairs, it takes rank and file Democrats working together wanting to win, possessing a positive attitude and all moving in the same direction.
Now to that end, I had been planning for the past several days, after some serious talks with friends and important Democrats I admire, to issue a plea for all Democrats in Harris County to come together and support in whatever way they can, the upcoming Johnson Rayburn Dinner on October 24. Our former nominee for US Senator in 2006 and Texas Attorney General in 2010, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, has taken on the Herculean task of chairing this endeavor….and endeavor that has been snake bitten from the start it seems including the changing of featured speaker when the first one got caught tweeting his Oscar Mayer round the world. Well, Barbara has a great speaker to feature in Co Minority Leader Steny B Hoyer of Maryland and she has put together one hell of a time to help put this soiree together in a short amount of time. Young Stonewalls Robert Shipman and Brad Prichett are working their rears off and Karen Wheaton from Senate 7 has taken on the task of organizing and implementing the SIlent Auction.
Now its real important that this dinner be as big of a success as possible because no matter who the next Chair of the party in Harris County is, he or she will need the proceeds to make sure we continue to have functioning county party….and that starts with having a headquarters with electricity and telephones…..along with a viable outreach program on behalf of the party. Literally every dollar raised will make a difference in 2012 as we attempt to re elect County Attorney Vince Ryan and Sheriff Adrian Garcia as well as a slate of Judicial office holders first elected in 2008 along with some new nominees. The success of the Johnson Rayburn dinner is a referendum on whether we Democrats like having Democrats in elected office representing us or whether we sit back and allow the right wing wacko Harris County Republicans to take total charge once again. To me, there is no alternative but to fully support the efforts that Barbara Ann, Robert, Bra and Karen, along with their teams and the many other volunteers are putting forth. They can use all the help we can give. Please contact 713-802-0085 and ask how you can help and then volunteer and when the time comes, buy tickets. It’s pretty simple and it helps the Harris County Democratic Party as a whole, not an individual.
And finally, we are coming up on an extremely difficult election in 2012. Nothing less than control of the White House will be at stake. We’ve seen what happens when we let the other guys control Congress, our State Government and legislature and the Courthouse. We can’t afford any more losses so we have to organize and start as soon as possible. The first step in that process is to have folks in every precinct who are ready , willing and able to do the job and right now we only have precinct chairs in about 60% of our precincts. We have to fill these precincts. If you live in one of these vacant precincts, please fill to be the precinct chair. If you live in a precinct where the incumbent is inactive or is only holding the position to run elections, please file to be the precinct chair. If you know of someone in one of these precincts where there is no one, get them to file NOW. You must be a registered voter in the precinct which you file. Call the headquarters at 713-802-0085 on which precincts are vacant and need folks. Remember, we need live, breathing folk in every precinct before we organize and Organization is how we make sure the Republicans make no further gains and we protect our County Attorney and Sheriff and other Democratic electeds while adding to our totals with additional members on the Harris County Department of Education Board. It all begins with each of us – YOU and ME.
So we start a new day with a renewed sense of hope that Democrats can and will, with new leadership and a new attitude, preserve our own and add to. If you belong to a club or organization affiliated with the Harris County Democratic Party, attend its meetings and help it strengthen its activities and grow its membership. Local clubs know what specific areas need addressing and how to do it. We need to let them do it with a gentle hand of assistance from the county party. Our clubs cannot be seen solely as a sieve to funnel money to the county. That attitude is what has us in the situation of having actual contacts and functioning organizations in only 14 groups out of a claimed 40. What good does it do to say we have so and so many like the Republicans, when over half are nothing more than paper organizations. Let’s build our clubs up and make them a power and something to be proud of. Trust me, it can be fun and everyone can have a great time and a sense of accomplishment in the process as we go about working to build a Democratic Party we are proud of.
I will sign off this diatribe now. I will promise to try and keep things on the positive road and follow a Ronald Reagan 11th commandment for Democrats. I will not speak ill of fellow Democrats (of course I define a loyal Democrat!) I challenge all of you to do the same so that November 2012 is more like November 2008 than November 2010!
DEMOCRAT – heart and head