Saturday, June 2, 2012

TDP Chair Candidate Gilberto Hinojosa

By Michael Handley, DBN Managing Editor

Texas Democrats, who will attend the State Democratic Convention in Houston June 7-9, have an opportunity to change the direction of the party. Party chairman Boyd Richie is stepping down, and a new party chairman must be elected at the state convention on June 9th. Judge Gilberto Hinojosa is running to be the next chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, to bring that much needed change.

Last November this Blog published an article, "The Texas Democratic Party Needs A New Direction:"

Today, the Texas Democratic Party finds itself in a state of near disarray - deserted by erstwhile conservative Democrats, unable to field new candidates who can win elections, and unable to attract donations to fund party operations.

Both houses of the state legislature have large majorities of Republican, and there hasn't been a Democrat elected to a statewide office for the last 18 years. It's not because members of the Republican Party of Texas vastly outnumber members of the Texas Democratic Party (TDP) in the state - they don't. The parties have roughly equal membership.

The Democrat party's last high profile candidate, Bill White, a conservative and the former mayor of Houston, ran unsuccessfully for governor of Texas in 2010. White lost to the not particularly popular conservative Republican incumbent, Rick Perry by a wide margin of 55 to 42 percent. Incumbent conservatives, like State Rep. Aaron PeƱa, from Hidalgo County in South Texas continue to abandon the TDP for the Republican Party as the TDP continues to recruit conservative candidates to run under the Democratic brand.

Perhaps the idea that the TDP's voter base, outside of Austin, is pervasively very conservative - an idea still active espoused by long time Democratic political strategists - is no longer correct. Perhaps the idea that the party and it's candidates must continue to subscribe to conservative policy strategies, shunning all progressive/liberal policy positions, is a strategy that no longer works - even in Texas.

It is, perhaps, time for party leaders to seriously consider whether the party finds itself struggling to attract voters, raise money and attract new candidates, not because it's not conservative enough, but because the Democratic Party offers Texas voters no real and contrasting choice to the extreme conservative Republican brand of politics.

Fortunately, Texas Democrats have an opportunity to change the direction of the party. Party chairman Boyd Richie is stepping down, and a new party chairman must be elected at the state convention on June 9th.

Judge Gilberto Hinojosa, who is running to be the next chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, intends to bring the kind of change to the TDP that will begin to offer the voters of Texas in all 254 counties a clear choice to the extreme conservative policies dictated by the Tea Party dominated Republican Party. Judge Hinojosa, who is a lifelong Democrat, is passionate about rebuilding the Texas Democratic Party.

"I have decided to take on this campaign for Texas Democratic Party Chair because I believe that the people of the State of Texas deserve, and desperately need, to have a Democratic Party that will ensure that we elect fair minded, socially conscious, critical thinking and visionary Democrats to run this State, instead of the Republicans that are running it into the ditch. Texans cannot afford any less. TOO much is at stake. TOO much has been lost and we must turn things around before it's TOO late," said Judge Hinojosa when he announced his candidacy last year.

Judge Hinojosa believes that grassroots Democrats in all 254 Texas counties must work together to remake the Texas Democratic Party and each county party into bottom up organization that seeks to empower, rather than ignore, grassroots Democrats. Judge Hinojosa wants to create a 21st century Democratic Party where grassroots Democrats use web-based communication strategies, like La Promesa Project, to become visible and relevant in every community of every county in Texas.

I support Judge Hinojosa to be the next Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party because he believes, as I do, that the power to place quality Democratic candidates on the ballot and get them elected is held in the hands and minds of every day Democrats like you and me.

As a Senate District 8 Delegate to the state convention, I will be supporting and voting for Judge Hinojosa -- and I urge you to do the same. Can Judge Hinojosa immediately solve all of the accumulated problems of the last 18 years? No, but he can immediately begin to chart a new course for the party to again make it relevant in the discourse of ideas and public policy in Texas.

I look forward to seeing you all at the 2012 State Convention - look for me in the Senate District 8 Delegation. The convention runs June 7- 9 in Houston, Texas. The convention starts its official business on Friday morning with registration and senate district caucuses starting promptly at 3:00pm in the afternoon. On Saturday, June 9, 2012 the election of state party officers will take place, so make sure to be there to cast your vote for the next TDP Chair, Judge Gilberto Hinojosa.

Judge Hinojosa interview with Texas Trib reporter Ross Ramsey.
Judge Hinojosa grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, attended what is now the University of Texas-Pan American, and obtained his law degree at Georgetown University.

He first worked as a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Migrant Legal Action Program and then served as a Brownsville school trustee, a state district judge, a justice on the state's 13th Court of Appeals, on the Texas Board of Criminal Justice and Cameron County Judge. Judge Hinojosa currently practices law in Brownsville.

(Click here to read more about Judge Hinojosa.)

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