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  • Writer's pictureNorth Shore Democrats of Travis County

Texas state Dem convention inspires us to win in November!



(Editor’s note: The following guest editorial is based on a presentation Ms Ochoa made at the June 15 NSD Meet & Greet, themed “Protecting Democracy.” Listen to Anne Ochoa’s complete presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPPy-9X9OvE )


By Anne Ochoa, delegate, Texas State Democratic Convention, and captain, NSD ATeam


Joan Carney and I attended the Texas State Democratic Convention in El Paso this month, and I’d like to share our experiences with you.


For first-time convention goers, it’s like drinking from a firehose!  Three days of immersion in the democratic process is overwhelming to say the least.  Where to begin or even end? So,  I asked my husband “what would you like to hear about?” The answer was: tell me why it was valuable! 


So, here’s my answer to that question, with the caveat that all errors and omissions are my own.  I’m gonna call it Introduction, Information, Issues, Implementation, and Inspiration, or Eiy-Eiy-Eiy-Eiy-Eiy!!!




Introduction

On Thursday, arrival day, I picked Joan up at the El Paso airport after her arrival on the 9:30 flight from Austin, a.k.a. the Democratic Express.  Our first job was to pick up our credentials.  I was happy about the security for the convention, which included bag searches and wanding every time we entered the convention hall.  I was happy to see media attention. in the graphic, there’s a picture of State Party Chair, the Honorable Gilberto Hinojosa, being interviewed.


Your two delegates were not interviewed, but we did create some of our own personal news, for example when Joan was embraced by Beto! 





Information

The Convention does its business in two ways, through District Caucuses and General Assemblies.  If all allocated delegates from the state attended, there would be over 12,000 of us.  As it was there were almost 2,000 delegates present.  Delegates are divided into 38 District caucuses as defined by Congressional District. 


Our weird looking CD10 district was specifically gerrymandered to keep Republican Congressman Michael McCaul in power.  Our own Theresa Boisseaux is going to give him a run for his money!!!   At the Convention our CD10 voted by paper ballot to elect our representatives to the state party and the national election.  


The other business is done in General Assembly.  We met twice, for 4-1/2 hours on Friday night, and then 7-1/2 hours on Saturday morning.  You’d think that’s a long time, but it really passed quickly because of the speakers, 36 in all, who represent the best of the Democratic party in Texas.  And we had important work to do.  Committees had been working on 3 items which we must consider and vote on;  the Rules, Resolutions, and most importantly the Platform.




Issues

Joan and I began informing ourselves on issues Friday morning at 7:30 a.m.  We attended Interest Caucuses, breakout meetings on issues important to Democrats and other real human beings.


I could not help but mentally compare these packed meetings with the fabled smoke-filled rooms in cartoons of the past, except instead of old white men smoking cigars,  the attendees were black, brown, yellow, old, young, he, she, and non-binary, no smoke in sight.  A true representation of the melting pot which is Texas.  


At the Stop Gun Violence caucus, who should show up but David Hogg, survivor of Parkland High and national gun control advocate. He was attending his first state Democratic Convention, ours, because he feels Texas is ripe for change.  During the previous night’s Kick-Off Reception, we had heard the same message from Gabby Giffords, who has created a bipartisan organization with which to confront the gun lobby, Giffords.com


We tried to get into the Progressive Caucus but the room was over capacity.  I was able to snap one picture of Clayton Tucker and then moved on.


The Tejano Conference was another packed event, where I learned, among other things, that Mexico had just 3 days before elected their first woman President, a left-leaning engineer no less, with 61% nationwide turnout…61% turnout!!!


A powerful statement from Lulu Flores of Austin, said “vouchers are a way that Republican kids don’t have to go to school with our children”.  Strike another blow against Texas racism and for public education.


Our next stop was the Women’s Reproductive Rights Caucus, where we heard from Wendy Davis, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Votes Texas.  Her call to arms, “We care, we are driven, and that’s why we’re here.  We have to fight cycle after cycle after cycle, vote by vote, election by election, because this is our way forward…”  She said that 80% of the additional births in the first year and 1/2 after the abortion ban were to teens or Hispanics.  “If you have granddaughters, you can’t stop fighting until this is fixed.”




Implementation: the work

Friday afternoon Joan and I met with our local caucus CD10 to start implementing the tasks at hand.  Under the capable leadership of Chairs Cecil Webster and Judy LeUnes, the 40 or so delegates present voted to elect 4 Delegates to the National Democratic Convention.  We also elected two representatives to the State Democratic Executive Committee, one member of the DNC Nominations Committee, one member of the Biden Presidential Preference Recommendation Committee, one Elector and one Alternate Elector. 


On a local note, I’m happy to report that our Club endorsement for National Delegate, Kerry Stevens, won!  Kerry will be going to Chicago for all of us in August!!  He’s shown here with another of our National Delegates, Christopher Livaudais. 


Saturday morning we reconvened in General Session to vote on Rules, Resolutions, and the Platform.  Results can be found at the QR code in the Implementation graphic.  With thanks to the Texas Progressive Podcast, I borrow their summary:


“The major objective of passing the 64-Page Platform was achieved unanimously in spite of a common procedural difficulty regarding quorum that occurred at the end of the 5-hour meeting.  Truly, this is what democracy looks like.


“Our adopted platform is in direct counterpoint to the disturbing one just released by the Republicans – displaying their fear that they are losing the rural vote just like they have lost the big city votes in recent years.  They want to close their primaries and decide statewide elections by county, putting elections in the hands of rural communities. 


“In contrast, our issue-based platform includes a guaranteed right to abortion care; repealing of recent draconian state border laws, especially SB4; school funds for public schools; legislation aimed at curbing gun violence and much more.”


The most contentious issue at the convention was the war between Israel and Hamas, and the platform both recognizes Israel’s right to exist with secure borders and calls for an independent Palestinian sovereign state.


For more on all this I recommend you sign up for Progress Texas Daily Dispatch Podcasts which are a great way to catch up on all things blue in Texas while you’re stuck in traffic.





Inspiration

And now to talk Inspiration.   Going to this convention was like attending one of our Blue Thursdays on steroids!  Barbara Alford told me once, “there is something so liberating about being in a room full of people who think like you do.”  Well, try being in a room full of hundreds or thousands of people like that!  From the Receptions to the General Sessions, it was liberating!!


Like Joan and I, a majority of the 1900 delegates present were first time convention goers.  Excited, exhausted, sometimes confused, we made our way through the crowded hallways surrounded by people just like us!!  We heard great speakers, like Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Chair of the DNC, who has a 3-part plan for success “Get.Shit.Done.”  We heard from Colin Allred in person, who also has a plan – send Ted to Cancun for good!  We heard from a former NRA member who quit and now advocates for sensible gun laws.


One delegate exhorted us to think out of the box by protesting at our state Representative’s house.  In an emotional moment, the Defenders of Democracy Award was presented to the Texas Democratic Caucus for defeating vouchers not once, not twice, but five times.    Over and over, we heard that Texas is perfectly positioned to show the rest of the country how to change leadership.  This is because consistently, every race is challenged, City, County, State and Federal.  Voting up and down the ballot is crucial to our success.


The message is that we are in this for the long haul.  We continue the fight, celebrating each small victory is it happens.


I want to leave you with these words from Wendy Davis.  “When I’m feeling low, I picture a stonecutter at work.  Bit by bit pieces of rock chip away to reveal the perfect shape within.  It’s not the final blow, it’s the 1000 little chips leading up to that final blow that bring success.  Keep Pounding the Rock!”


Two Years from now where will you be?  Maybe we’ll see each other in Corpus in 2026! 



Link:


Listen to Anne Ochoa’s complete presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPPy-9X9OvE

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