State Convention Week!!
Thursday through Saturday of this week thousands of Democrats from across Texas will gather in Austin for the 2008 Texas Democratic Party State Convention. Even if you are not a Delegate or Alternate, there will be plenty of events to attend, speeches to listen to, old friends to see again and new ones to meet, and above all, lots of parties! Why do so many of us go to these every two years, even when there is not an ongoing Presidential contest like 2008? Because these are FUN! Come on and see.
Where's It At?
This year everything (except some of those parties) will be at the big new Austin Convention Center. This is downtown, between 1st Street (now also known as Cesar Chavez) and 4th Street, a couple of blocks west from IH35 (and between Red River and Trinity streets). For directions and maps (including parking maps), see this page. With these huge crowds, parking is likely to be a problem, so you might want to get there VERY early each day, or take a cab or a city bus.
The state party has a lot of information about the Convention, starting from this page. Thursday things are to get started at 7 PM with a big Convention Kick-Off Reception and Silent Auction, at the Hilton Hotel, at 500 East 4th Street, just across the street from the Convention Center complex on the north side. But it's already SOLD OUT! You can go hang around near there and talk with people going in and out, and probably find out about all the other parties for candidates and campaigns going on.
Or from 8:30 to midnight you can go on over to the Texas Blogger's Caucus. It will be at the Cedar Door, 201 Brazos (at 2nd street), two blocks west of the Convention Center. Lots of candidates will be there, and plenty of delegates, just as in 2006 at the Fort Worth convention.
This is really the big day. Pick up your credentials, attend a caucus (or more than one!) or a workshop about an issue or a group you are interested in, and then attend your own Senate District caucus. Those start at 3 PM, and that's where the delegates (and elevated alternates, when a delegate can't make it after all) elect members of convention committees and fill all those other spots people have been campaigning about since our district conventions. The proportions may be fixed for delegate allocations for Presidential candidates, but which ones get to be the actual delegates? There's a complete list of all the interest caucuses and training workshops, and of where each Senate District caucus meets at this page.
When those are over, the Convention itself starts at 6 PM. There'll be speakers, and business, and then if any district caucus didn't finish its business in the afternoon, they may have to reconvene. Fair warning: I've been to State Conventions that went on past midnight. Let's hope this one winds up sooner, because there will be a lot of candidate events and receptions and just general celebrating to do.
Updated -- Who's Running In Austin?
Two weeks ago I offered to post on my blog and link to that here contact information (and even a short blurb) for anyone running in the five Dallas County State Senate districts for delegate, SDEC member, convention committee member, elector, and so on, at this year's State Convention. This list has been and will continue to be updated through this Wednesday evening. (Email me to stoutdemblog AT yahoo DOT com.) The list so far is at this page.
This is the day that wraps it up, starting with committee meetings and more workshops -- way too early after such a Friday night -- and the traditional Blue Star Breakfast (if you didn't get your ticket online, sorry -- it's also SOLD OUT!) at 8:30. (The schedule for this final day is at the bottom of this page.) At 11 AM the Convention starts again, taking those committee reports and electing party officers and the remaining at-large delegates not already chosen by their district caucuses.
Usually people start fading away late in the day and any proposed Platform planks and Resolutions that didn't get taken up are referred to the SDEC. Sometimes there are also candidate events and parties that afternoon, but mostly people just need to start the long trip home and come down from their adrenalin high. There's a lot of work to do to win this November, and it starts as soon as we rest up from the excitement of Austin.
What If You Can't Go?
First, if you are a delegate or alternate, make sure your district delegation chair (especially for your favored candidate) knows that you will need to be replaced on the floor. Expect considerable local news coverage of the events, though take it with a whole shaker of salt. Frequently even less objective, but usually more fun, are the blogs. Lots of us covered the Convention live and on line two years ago, and this year even more of us plan to be there, lured by promises of tables with power connections so that we don't have to keep leaving the floor to recharge.
My own live blogging (in between serving as Parliamentarian for a couple of meetings) will be at StoutDemBlog. On my right sidebar is a list of links to the Texas Progressive Alliance of bloggers, but a better place to start is with the list of convention posters at the bottom of a post-convention report from two years ago at this page. Especially good ones are Capitol Annex, Burnt Orange Report, and Off The Kuff. Log in and see what's happening!