Political And Other Miscellany From A Stout Democrat In Dallas Texas.
"Politics is the only game for adults." --from Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Now what do we do about all these defectors?

(NOTE: See UPDATE at end added Sept. 20.)

Today comes word that Republican State Representative Kirk England, from the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, is switching parties. Tomorrow he will announce that he will run for re-election as a Democrat. Considering that last time he only barely beat Democratic candidate Katy Hubener, this could be seen as rank opportunism. But he has at least learned the lingo of his hoped-for new political home (according to the Dallas News):
"In December of 2005, when I filed to run for office, I made a promise to the hardworking families in our community to fight for our public schools, fight for affordable health care and to fight for them on pocketbook issues. After one session in the House, I found that the Republican leadership in Austin had no tolerance for the values and priorities of the folks I represent. ... I am confident that the voters in our district want a representative who will fight for public education and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and who believes that the folks struggling to pay skyrocketing utility bills every month are more important than TXU's profits."
If that's really how he feels, why was he ever hanging out with the elephants? Or maybe that was the opportunism on his part, when it still looked like they were unbeatable. If he's now turned against them, it's karma coming back at them.

He is not alone. Former Democratic Judge in Dallas County John Creuzot, who switched -- with several others -- to the Republican party when they were sweeping all before them, has now switched back and is running for reelection as a Democrat. He has already gathered a primary opponent, Hiram McBeth, who spoke at this week's Stonewall Democrats meeting and denounced Cruezot for being really still a Republican. I jumped up and objected that it was inappropriate for anyone to be attacking another Democrat in the primary at our meeting.

That may have had some good effect. When later Peter Schulte, who is challenging our incumbent lesbian Democratic Sheriff Lupe Valdez in the primary spoke, he didn't attack her in his remarks. It would have been almost inconceivably obtuse to do so there anyway, since Jason Mida of the Victory Fund had just been applauded for praising her and promising that her reelection was a national priority for them.

For the record, Creuzot is one of the best Judges on the bench; I was sorry to see him switch; I'm glad to see him back; and he was an active Democrat here in Dallas County when it was still uphill but not impossible -- long before his challenger was doing anything for the party. Welcome home, John.

We saw this kind of "I'm more Democratic than you" bashing in the primary last year, when Balthasar Cruz ran a truly odious campaign against Judge Sally Montgomery, who had been run out of the Republican Party by an organized campaign against her in their primary. She switched two years later and was elected as a Democrat. Cruz managed to make himself obnoxious in what certainly sounded like either a personal vendetta -- or an intention just to cause trouble for her in November if she won the primary. Sure enough, the Democratic voters who had welcomed her aboard four years before rejected his pathetic crusade.

This year, he's back again - seeking the same Judgeship that SDEC member and former Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Ken Molberg is running for. The good news is that means Cruz will get thoroughly stomped by probably the most widely-supported Democrat in the county (thirty years of hard work for the party builds up a lot of political IOUs). The bad news is that Molberg will have to spend time, effort, and money in the primary that he would prefer to save to fight Republicans with. Maybe that's the idea? If so, it didn't work in 2006, and it should fail in 2008, too. Ken may even lead the ticket as far as campaign activity, and he will be one of the finest Judges we'll ever have.

And how about new Democrat Kirk England? State Senator Royce West, a great Senator but still showing the Texas version of beltway myopia that led him to support Susan Hays as Dallas County Democratic Chair even when the Precinct Chairs were storming the office with parliamentary pitchforks over her support of a Republican Judge, offered praise:
"He's not just jumping off a sinking ship, he's trying to represent the views of his district."
Thankfully, our new and improved Dallas County Chair, pointed out the uncomfortable facts for the latest party-switcher:
Dallas County Democratic chairwoman Darlene Ewing said Mr. England's move to the party was a positive. But she said that many grass-roots party activists would not support Mr. England if Ms. Hubener decided on another run.

Though the party remains neutral in primary elections, Ms. Ewing said she personally backs Ms. Hubener.

"If Katy runs, I'm sticking with her," Ms. Ewing said. "He's going to have trouble beating her in the primary. The grass-roots Democrats are going to back Hubener."
One can hardly blame England for wanting to jump ship. Only days ago another Republican State Representative from Dallas County, Fred Hill, announced that he won't be running next year, and Dianne White Delisi, Republican chairwoman of the House Public Health Committee, also announced yesterday that she won't run again. They can see the trend is strongly against the party that Bush, Cheney, Rove, Delay, Perry, and all those other theocratic corporatist reactionaries have gutted out and turned into an engine of destruction aimed at all Americans (except for the rich and the televangelists).

Now Kirk will have to justify his attacks on Hubener last year. That will be a difficult burden to bear. Personally, I'm supporting Hubener, and Creuzot, and Valdez, and especially Molberg. But judging by England's improved rhetoric (and his far from lockstep votes in Austin this year), if he does win the primary he'll be a whole lot better than anyone the Republicans are likely to run, and I'd have no trouble voting for him against the GOP's offering. Like Darlene, I don't think that will prove necessary.

UPDATE: (Sept. 20) The contest has already begun among other political activists. First we have a letter sent out by Susan Culp, SDEC member for Senate District 9 in Dallas County:
The Republican who couldn't even get the endorsement of the Republican loving Dallas Morning News, couldn't hold his own in debates, and couldn't hold the respect of Republicans in his district now wants to be a Democrat. Mr. England says: "After one session in the House, I found that the Republican leadership in Austin had no tolerance for the values and priorities of the folks I represent." Didn't Mr. England consider whether the values of the Texas Republican Party matched those of himself and his constituents BEFORE he considered running as one of them? Did he not read their Texas Republican Party Platform? I've read it. It gave me nightmares.

Was Mr. England not the deciding vote in favor of the Voter Suppression Bill that passed the Texas House? Personally, I'm of the same mind as our Dallas County Party Chair...."
She then quotes Darlene Ewing's words I quoted above. Culp also posted this comment on Burnt Orange Report:
Any way the wind blows....

Personally, though I'm glad to see the Republicans feeling so threatened in Dallas County, I just can't hold much love for people who simply seem to be coattail riders. They seem to lack principle to me. I'm also not buying his excuse that he some how didn't realize that the Texas Republicans didn't hold the values that were important to him or his constituents. Excuse me, do you run under a party banner WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING who they are and what they stand for? Do you not READ their Party Platform before throwing yourself in their ring?

Sorry, I know most of you don't live in Grand Prairie, Kirk England isn't your neighbor or your State Rep and you probably don't realize what a box of rocks he actually is, so this isn't as important to you, but it is extremely important to me whether Katy Hubener decides to run against him or not.

I for one, will never abandon the people who stuck with their principles and were in the trenches, fighting the good fight and proud to call themselves Democrats when we were down over those who blow with the wind any day.
Another who has weighed in is Sharon Barbosa-Crain, "a former Democratic City Councilwoman in Irving" according to Carl Whitmarsh, who passed on this letter from her:
Sorry I did not get to send this out first. Kirk England is a friend of mine as is his father, mayor of Grand Prairie. He worked very hard to be a good representative in his first session, representing my old district, and has been ill-rewarded by his Republican colleagues who have appeared to have many other things on most of their minds than serving the public interest. Obviously we are doing something right, and we need to be careful to keep on doing it. We don't win unless we bring in more Democrats so this is another good sign. I'm for welcoming every person who wishes to switch.
Apparently there is strong disagreement about England's voting record. Someone needs to research and let us know the truth. I too am for welcoming those who have finally seen the light (or at least the deepening darkness at the heart of their own party). I also remember the old saying from church: we welcome converts, but we don't invite them to lead the choir.


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