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

Monday, March 03, 2008

Needless Battles And Bad Information

This is from Vince Liebowitz, a longtime party activist from east Texas and leader of the Texas Progressive Alliance:
We continue to hear -- from supporters of both camps -- that they have recruited people to come in and take over the precinct conventions. Not just make their voices heard, but run for permanent convention chair and secretary -- in place of the people the county parties have trained. ...

For one thing, today, [one candidate's] supporter showed me what essentially he called the [candidate's] handout on hijacking your precinct convention at all costs. There is a similar [other candidate's] document going around, but I've not seen it.

I understand the people from both of these camps who want to be involved and make sure things are done "fairly." But, they being trained to be more like obstructionists than impartial precinct convention operators. ...

Typically, there is no contest for who will be elected to these posts. However, we're expecting -- now -- to have one person from each camp plus the [Precinct Chair, in Dallas County] to end up in knock-down-drag-outs to run f**cking precinct conventions and be secretaries versus people who have received impartial training.

I am p***ed about this.
And rightly so, if there really is such paranoia out there. Some of this may have started when those out-of-state pros sent in by the campaigns realized that there are some precincts with no Chair, where the first one who shows up from that precinct gets to ask the election judge to give them the precinct convention packet for their precinct, and open the convention since there is no Precinct Chair -- who is the one assigned by the Rules the authority to do that. The reasonable suggestion that, in that case, one should try to pick up that packet, snowballed into leading people to think they needed to struggle over it, even displacing a Precinct Chair elected by the voters in the Primary two years before.

Recommendation to all sides: DON'T DO THIS. The precinct packet goes to the Precinct Chair. If there isn't one, it's first come, first served. Don't fight over calling the convention to order. In fact, don't fight over electing the permanent Precinct Convention Chair (almost always this is simply the Precinct Chair, because it isn't a position that matters). Caucus for your candidate, elect your delegates, and if they are in the majority and the Precinct Chair is on the other side, you might want to elect your own person as Delegation Chair (instructed to carry the minutes and elected delegate lists to the party). But generally, the Precinct Chair can be relied upon to do that. Failure to do so would be illegal (and we would fix it at the District Convention anyway), and, worst of all from their point of view, almost the only way to guarantee their defeat in the next Primary.

There was a time in Texas when there were fist fights, and lockouts, and rump conventions here. That time ended with new party rules and the defection of the reactionaries to the Republican Party. Let's not bring their vicious and illegal tactics back ourselves. Play fair, be open and honest, follow the Rules, and we'll all work together to defeat the Republicans in November. Do otherwise and you hurt the chances of all of our candidates.

As for any pros from other states who misunderstand our process and urge this kind of "rule or ruin" tactic -- they don't have to stay here and live and work with the other Democrats this would make senseless enemies of. Ignore them and treat each other with courtesy and respect. We all need each other.

ONE MORE IMPORTANT NOTE: It was clear to me from Vince's post that in his county the party expects the Election Judges to carry those ballots straight to the election department after voting ends, and not wait until the Precinct Convention is over. If the Election Judge is also the Precinct Chair (which is usually the case in Dallas County), that would mean they do not get to preside over the Precinct Convention. I understand some election department people may be saying the same thing here.

HOGWASH. If you are the Precinct Chair, feel free to STAY FOR YOUR PRECINCT CONVENTION. Bring the ballots to the county afterwards. You as an Election Judge are not working for the Dallas County Elections Department. You are not working for the TV news departments. You are working for the Dallas County Democratic Party. You were also elected by the Democrats of your precinct to work for them as Precinct Chair -- and the most important part of that job is calling that convention to order. If the news media doesn't get all their results before 10 PM, too bad.


  • At 4:57 AM, Anonymous ~Teri in Irving said…

    Thank you for your very relevant posting, Bill. I am a grassroots member of one of the campaigns and we have been instructed to try to obtain the temporary Precinct Chair role only if there is not a sitting chair and to absolutely NOT be rude or cause a stink if someone else from the other side gets there first. I believe that this is being overblown, however I'm sure there will be those on both camps who extrapolate that these directives are an endorsement of guerilla politicking. As for me, my main objective today will be to ensure that everyone is respectful of the Party’s rules and that we maintain civility regardless of our candidate.

  • At 9:03 AM, Blogger Luckybear said…

    Great post. We are all Democrats and need to remember our common goal. After the primaries we will all be working to elect our Democratic candidates.


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