Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Texas Democratic Party Refocusing For Party Building

By Michael McPhail, SDEC Committeeman - reposted from FaceBook

I attended the final quarterly meeting of the Texas Democratic Party’s State Democratic Executive Committee Saturday, December 17, 2016. In contrast to our last meeting, which had no committee sessions and no real work done, we had a full and robust committee schedule and an active general session.

At the September meeting we heard a great presentation by Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant on how Travis County is using new resources aggressively to register new voters. This led Travis to achieve a 90% voter registration rate headed into the November election. Travis County now has about a 93% voter registration rate per an updated report we heard today.

In September Committee assignments were made amidst the announcement of an overhaul of the Committee structure. Two committees, Fundraising and Convention, were abolished. Fundraising never actually raised any money (long story) and Convention was always the SDEC members from the area where the next Convention was being held anyway. Convention will be an ad hoc Committee of those members instead of a standing committee from now on.

Rules Committee -- was restructured in September to include three sub-committees tasked with specific items, the last two of which emerged from complaints about the 2016 Convention in San Antonio. These are:

Non-substantive Recodification of the Rules (“review, streamline and reorganize the current Rules to make them more efficient and easier to use”);

Convention Processes (“review all convention processes to make the convention run smoother and encourage the highest level of transparency and inclusion of all delegates in the process…[and] recommend rule changes on the schedule of events at the state convention to make it flow better and all for more participation by delegate in all facets of the affair”); and

Delegate Selection Review (“review delegate selection processes…a. Overall selection process; b. Affirmative Action Goals and how they are determined and met; c. Role of the Convention delegates vs. the Presidential candidate and their campaigns; d. Specific processes, timelines for meetings and interaction with presidential campaigns of the Nominations Committee for At-Large Delegates during the State Convention”).

A fourth was announced at the December meeting, one dealing with Substantive Changes to the Rules.  Very little information was announced at the meeting about this sub-committee.  John Richie is the chair and I am a member of that subcommittee.

Base Voters Committee -- has been created with subcommittees for:
  • Women
  • Disabled
  • LGBT
  • African Americans
  • Veterans
  • Labor
  • Youth
  • Hispanic
  • Asian Democrats
This Committee and its subcommittees are tasked with “develop[ing] a campaign plan to begin in spring of 2017 through the general election of 2018. Goals of the plan: 1) Create programmatic things to enhance turnout within the constituency; 2) Plan on how to develop local leadership and volunteer capacity for the constituency; 3) Develop constituency based and culturally sensitive messaging on voter participation; 4) Develop a finance plan and activities to raise the money needed to effectuate the plan; 5) Plan and execute constituency based voter registration programs.”

Elections Processes – “The committee will review current statutes and regulations and make recommendations to the staff for legislative matters to improve electoral processes.  The Committee will outline specific data driven programs to increase voter registration, vote by mail participation, administration of primaries, and selection and training of election workers for 2018.”  It has four sub committees, one for each topic listed.

Messaging Committee – Has two subcommittees:

Message Delivery Subcommittee: “The Message Delivery Subcommittee ensures that the SDEC explores new avenues to deliver the party’s message to base voters. The committee is responsible for encouraging Democrats and allies to produce Letters to the Editor, assist in Social Media Amplification of the party’s message, and expand the Press Lists available to the state party and candidates.”

Message Discipline Subcommittee: “The message discipline subcommittee is responsible for creating constructive dialogues with allies, clubs, campaigns, and local party organizations to make sure Democrats stick to key messages that drive out the vote and mobilize the base. Members should be keeping Democrats on message and promoting talking points to Democratic influencers.”

Finance – responsible for fiscal oversight and budget review.

Legislative Affairs – A committee on the whole, it will feature “a working subcommittee of SDEC members and County chairs to work on elections issues.  The Chair will ask for folks to volunteer to be a lead executive committee person for each policy topic area.  We will divide into whatever working groups become necessary during the session.”

Nominations – “performs the statutory functions of selecting and ratifying county chairs, SDEC members, and vacancies on the ballot when appropriate.”

Coordinated Campaign – This committee exists to strategize ways to recruit, train, and support Democratic candidates for office up and down the ballot; work to strengthen county parties in partnership with the state Party; and promote a 2018 Coordinated Campaign for our slate of candidates.

I have been assigned to the Rules Committee and the Coordinated Campaign Committee.  I was elected 2nd Vice Chairman of the Coordinated Campaign Committee and Chairman Hinojosa appointed me Co-Vice Chairman of the Convention Processes Subcommittee of the Rules Committee.

The General session featured speeches from all five candidates for DNC Chair. Committee Reports were read and accepted. &Libby Willis made a motion which got unanimous consent from the floor requesting the Texas Congressional delegation support creation of an independent commission ala 9-11 Commission to study and report to American people about Russian interference in 2016 American election.


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