Sunday, August 16, 2009

Democratic Party of Collin Co. Honors Gov. Ann Richards

Democratic Party
of Collin Co.

Ann Richards

About Tx Gov Richards
The Democratic Party of Collin County had a substantial turnout for its annual fundraiser dinner honoring former governor Ann Richards. In addition to keynote speaker Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins, U.S. Senate Candidate John Sharp also briefly addressed the dinner attendees.

Sharp, who served as Texas State Comptroller from 1990 through 1999, told the Collin County Democrats that turning out the Democratic vote in Collin Collin will be key in electing Democrats to statewide office in future elections.

Sharp reminded dinner attendees that the first of those statewide elections, the special election to fill U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's vacated senate seat, could be in the not so distant future.

On Monday (Aug. 17) U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will begin a five-day statewide campaign tour to formally announce that she will oppose Rick Perry in the March 2, 2010 Republican primary. Sen. Hutchison is scheduled to kick off her gubernatorial campaign tour of Texas at 8 A.M. Monday morning (Aug 16) in the gym of her hometown high school in La Marque.

Hutchison's formal gubernatorial campaign announcement will be no surprise, but everyone is waiting to see if she will surprise with a resignation announcement. There has been much speculation over her possible senate resignation and rumors are once again circulating that she will announce a resignation date during her Monday morning La Marque High School campaign kickoff event. (see Sen. Hutchison Says Will Resign Senate Seat In Oct. Or Nov.)

John Sharp
Sharp told county Democrats that when Sen. Hutchison does resign, Gov. Rick Perry will appoint a temporary replacement to U.S. Senate until he can order a special election.

Unlike most other states, Texas allows the Governor to make a temporary senate appointment only until he can order a special or emergency election. Texas election law allows Perry to call that special election as soon as 36 days after Hutchison resigns.
After a ceremonial bill signing of House Bill 3 at R.L. Turner High School in Carrolton in late July Gov. Perry said he might quickly call a special election to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison because too many important things are going on in Washington, D.C. [StarTelegram blog, July 29]
So, Texas could have a special election as soon as November 3, 2009, or at any time as late as May 8, 2010 depending on exactly when KBH resigns. Sharp said it is even possible that Texans will go to the polls on the November 3, 2009 uniform election date to vote on the dozen or so amendments to the Texas Constitution, scheduled to be on the ballot, and then return to the polling place again sometime later in November or December 2009 to vote for a new U.S. Senator in a special election, if Hutchinson resigns in October, as many Texas politicos are now speculating.

Shawn Stevens
During his remarks, the new Democratic Party of Collin Co. Chair, Shawn Stevens, reminded the audience that:
"Comparing 2008 to 2004, there were 20,000 more straight ticket Democratic voters in 2008, while the Republicans’ straight ticket votes were virtually unchanged. Also, the raw Democratic vote in Collin County went up by 40,000 votes, while the raw Republican vote went up by only 10,000, a 30,000 net gain for the Democrats, reducing the vote gap between the Democratic and Republican vote by around 17.5 points."

"Increasing the Democratic vote in Collin County is critical on a statewide, and perhaps national, level. Because of our large population, a few more percentage points in our county can tip a statewide race blue."

Stevens observed that in November 2008 the Democratic vote for Pres. Obama was just under 38 percent. That turnout was a significant increase from the 28 percent given to presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 and the 24 percent given to presidential candidate Al Gore in the November 2000 election. Stevens told the county Democrats that if they can help bump the Democratic vote turnout by just another 5 or 6 points, to 43 percent, in statewide races, this county can provide the margin of victory for Democratic gubernatorial, U.S. Senatorial and other statewide candidates.
A representative for Houston Mayor Bill White, who has also announced his intention to run for for Kay Bailey Hutchison's vacated U.S. Senate seat, also made a few remarks during the dinner event.

Sworn in as Dallas County District Attorney on January 1, 2007 -- keynote speaker Craig Watkins -- was the first elected black district attorney in Texas. In November 2006, Watkins, then 39, was elected as part of a Democratic sweep in Dallas in which the party took 42 judgeships and six other countywide offices.

For his pursuit of a range of reforms designed to protect the wrongly accused and appropriately punish the guilty and for his willingness to stake out politically precarious territory to create a "conviction integrity unit," an operation that has freed prisoners who have been wrongly incarcerated, Mr. Watkins in 2008 was named "Texan of the Year" by the Dallas Morning News.

Dallas DNA Promo Segment
The Discovery Channel is currently running a six part series called Dallas DNA featuring Mr. Watkins and the work being conducted by the Dallas County District Attorney office's "conviction integrity unit."

Dallas DNA chronicles the pioneering CIU where post-conviction DNA testing is being used to clear the innocent, as well as confirm the guilty.

Mr Watkins maintained a mostly non-partisan tone during his keynote speech emphasizing that elected officials must always remember that they were elected by the people to serve the community, not themselves or their political party.

Marlene Byndon
Marlene Byndon, Democratic Party of Collin Co Chair Vice Chair, served as the MC for Saturday evening fundraiser dinner. As evidence that the Democratic Party is gaining momentum in Collin County, attendance at this this year's Ann Richards dinner was significantly higher than in past years.

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