Nick Lampson : Despite all the hell I gave him, he's gonna
be a great congressman for Fort Bend...
Sorry I've been so late at providing a post-election wrap up. I had a Title VII brief due the week of the election, and this week I have oral arguments. In addition, I've had a bit of a tragic week - Our cat Gonzo passed away after a short struggle with leukemia.
But at least the election provided me with some happiness. First and most obviously, I will now have a Democratic congressman. Secondly, the nation followed suit and elected Democrats across the board. Lastly, local elections provided me with the statistical proof to know our efforts are working. I now know that in my adult life, Fort Bend County will not be ruled by Republicans. 2004 was not a fluke - This county, recently a 60%+ GOP fortress, is becoming Democratic. November 7th was a watershed day for our county and our nation. And given the news of the imminent redeployment from Iraq, it was also a watershed day for the planet.Veronica Torres, Farhan Shamsi, and Rudy Velasquez, three
of the many admirable candidates I had the chance to work with
I had been hopeful that the Democratic tidal wave might be enough to push one of our candidates into county-wide office. It was a total long-shot, especially in a non-presidential year - the numbers aren't quite there yet - but now I can confirm that it is in the realm of realism.
You may have noticed that you don't see much bragging from the other side. And that's because they are looking at the same numbers I am. And it's not a pretty sight for local Republicans. Check out the results for statewide races (in Fort Bend) versus countywide races:STATE-WIDE RACES: Huchison........57,523
Abbot..............56,946Van Os............37,717Combs.............55,408Head...............38,748COUNTY-WIDE RACES:Elliot..............51,197Torres............43,534
So what do we see? Local Republicans under-performed their state-wide ballotmates by between 6,000-3,000 votes (around 5%). Conversely, we picked up those votes. Republican votes. A 3,500 vote swing is now all that stands between victory or defeat in Fort Bend County.
And while we were wildly successful at persuading Republicans to split their ticket on these downballot races, we also continue to be one of the only counties in Texas where new Democratic votes are outpacing new Republican votes. Furthermore, straight ticket Democrat votes increased by 7,000 from 2002!
In traditionally GOP Precinct 1, Fort Bend Democrats
were able to raise Democratic performance to over 47% of the vote! By '08, we will easily have Pct 1 back in blue. I hope Tom Stavinoha
has a good retirement package...Or take a look at Sugar Land - Our candidates got 40% in Sugar Creek! Yes, this Sugar Creek
. I made a prediction back in August after seeing the dynamics of this election season take shape - "This county will home to some of the most competitive and interesting races of the next decade of Texas politics."
I also remain stunned at just how effective and influential our blogs became
, much to the chagrin of the local GOP. It all started as mere campaign diaries and reading fodder for our activists. But before we knew it, our most faithful readers were our Republican opponents, who were all too willing to allow us to frame the local debate and dictate the content of their messages
. In the end, my blog gave me daily access to the mind of every local Republican from Shelley Sekula Gibbs
on down to Mrs. Sex on the Beach
. And it was fun. It was an odd felling to have TV and newspaper reporters say "Oh, you're Mark from The View From 22!" or to have politicians ask me if Robert Talton really brought cookies
Now the bad news: How did we fall short this year? Well, lets look at turnout by Commissioner's precinct:Pct 1 (Votes about even GOP-DEM) - 21,815
Pct 2 (Votes 80%+ DEM) - 19,644Pct 3 (Votes 70% GOP) - 32,970Pct 4 (Votes 55% GOP) - 26,082
And that's the election, folks.
It has been common knowledge for years that the "official" Fort Bend Democratic Party is severely dysfunctional. Yet this year's turnout shows the depth of the problem. The Fort Bend Democrats Club
is mainly a Pct 1 & 4 organization. Pct 2 leaders are extremely territorial. As such, we tend to leave Pct 2 operations to the "official" party.
We thought we could count on increased turnout this year in Pct 2. After all, Commissioner Prestage and Representative Olivio were finally in contested races. We were dead wrong. While Pct 2 turnout is slightly up compared to 2002, this is due to realignment and new voting precincts being added to Prestage's territory. On a voting precinct by precinct basis, every key precinct in Pct 2 saw DECREASED turnout compared to 2002. In other words, the local party under Felicia Farrar accomplished a better turnout than this year's effort. Anyone vaguely familiar with the recent history of the Fort Bend Democratic Party knows exactly how shameful that is.
Had Pct 2 experienced a healthy increase in turnout instead of a shocking decrease, we might be closing in on recount territory right now.
In my future as an activist, I will not make the same mistake again by assuming the "official" party will do something (anything!) in Pct 2. And on a similar note, never let anyone tell you that you aren't an "official" Democrat. If you put a sign in your yard, or told a neighbor to vote blue, than you are an official Democrat. If you believe in the principles of progressivism
, than you are an official Democrat. And if you worked your butt off for Democratic candidates this year, you are an official Democrat.
I want to thank all of the Democrats that did work their butts off. There are too many fair-weather Democrats in this county, too many "official" folks who show up at our events when Chris Bell or Paul Begala have been invited, but are nowhere to be found when real work needs to be done. But there are so many of you out there who poured your heart and soul into this campaign, and you are the official Democrats.
You know who you are, and I have one more message for you: Your party still needs you, because your party needs leaders.
Also, I want to thank local weirdo Greg Aydt
for everything he did to help
Nick Lampson achieve a slim majority in CD22. You see, turnout of Asian and especially Muslim voters in Pct 3 went through the roof this year. What was usually a 75% GOP area was knocked down to 69% this year. Without Mr. Aydt's
efforts to energize the Muslim vote, Nick Lampson might have finished below 50%.
Some labeled Farhan Shamsi's campaign in Pct 3 a fool's errand, but his efforts tore away at a piece of the GOP fortress. He gave his voice to the maligned, and emerged as one of the true heroes of this campaign. His efforts, along with those of the grassroots activists of the Katy New Area Democrats Organization
(KANDO), are true expressions of Howard Dean's 50-State strategy. As Democrats, we need to fight for every vote in every precinct. Using smarter databasing (and lasers
!), we can finally do productive work in a 20-15% Democrat neighborhood.Carmen and Rhonda of KANDO
Thinking back, it's funny how this all began with the struggle to rid ourselves of Tom DeLay and the stink of corruption. In that fight, we won victory back in August
. And if that victory wasn't amazing enough, we can now take back DeLay's home county with a swing of 3,500 votes. It boggles the mind.
In the fall of 2008, I will be finishing my final semester at STCL
. I can think of no better graduation present than a Blue Fort Bend.