Roundup: What Happened at the Texas Democratic Party Convention

 I went to Austin last weekend for the TDP Convention. The other blog I write for did not get to publish my post in time, so I’d figure I’d post it here.

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“This was the biggest convention the Democratic Party in Texas has had, possibly ever,” said Victor Castillo, delegate to Senate District 13 in Houston. Sure enough, thousands of candidates, delegates, delegate alternates, and curious folk descended on the Austin Convention Center Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to set agendas, talk out the issues, and elect representatives both to the National Convention and within the state party.

The mood downtown seemed more carnival than business, yet most issue and affiliate caucus rooms spilled over, and the throngs voiced their concerns about Washington Politics and the need for change.

Texas Motorcycle Rights Association spokesman Sputnik (“I sign my checks Sputnik; I have Sputnik on my credit card”) did not mince words: “We’ve let Washington become such a septic tank that our politicians have no option but to dive in and come out smelling like shit.”

A large contingency from the University of Houston came to voice concerns over tuition hikes. Industrial Engineering student James Cox, noted that the convention “marked one of the few chances that we students and folk have to actually be heard.”

This is a pivotal moment for youth and, in particular, students at U of H. I live in the Third Ward and wasn’t really too involved before this. Now I think it’s important to find candidates that are respectable, responsible, and authentic – authenticity and integretity are the biggest issues affecting our government today. One of the ways to do that is simply talking to them at events like this. If Houston isn’t talking here then Houston isn’t being heard. And we need lower tuition, the cost is just too high.

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Other highlights included: the technology and computer caucus considering the merits of open source software in public schools, projects to make Houston wireless, and implementing a One Laptop Per Child policy in Texas; State Board of Education candidate Linda Ewing proposing the funding of all students in Harris County through their 14th year; and Senate District 11 candidate Joe Jaworski of Galveston proposing a toughening of State ethics laws and a push towards paper ballots in addition to electronic voting.

Chelsea Clinton spoke to the General Convention Friday evening (before flying to Washington for her mother’s concession on Saturday), noting that “I typically speak to smaller crowds. You give new meaning (to the saying that) you do things bigger in Texas.” Of course, the “new meaning” is the same as the old meaning: things are done bigger in Texas.
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Perhaps the best comment of the convention came from the chairman of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, Jim Dunnam, after he asked for a moment of silence to commemorate those that are no longer present.

“Like Tom Delay.”

And there was Texas-sized rejoicing.