If you are anything like me, you have spent the last week thinking about and attempting to decipher the Election Day results. At the federal, state, county and local level, there were complex developments and patterns, each of which gave us reason to be optimistic at the time that notes of despair crept in. On balance, I come away with positive feelings and a sense that Democrats are moving in the right direction, but much remains to be done to achieve the results we desire. The one things that buoys me more than anything else is my admiration and thanks for all of the efforts of the Sun City Democrats.
On a national level, the obvious high point of Election Day is that Democrats took the House of Representatives. As I write this , it appears that the final make-up will be 230 Democrats and 205 Republicans, a change that is far more than the 23 seats that had to flip to give the Democrats the 218 votes required for control. One seat that flipped was District 32 near Dallas, where Colin Allred, supported by IMPACT, soundly defeated the incumbent. As of this writing, Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones is too close to call in District 32-she too received IMPACT contributions. Of course, the Congressional race right here saw MJ Hegar lose to John Carter in a hard-fought excellent campaign. MJ’s advertising (her first ad went viral) and her fundraising were unprecedented and caught all of us, including her opponent by surprise. In the end, the make-up of the district, particularly Bell County, proved insurmountable.
The results in the U.S. Senate were less rosy. For months we had been hearing that the Democrat incumbents in North Dakota, Montana, Indiana and Missouri were particularly vulnerable In the end, three went to Republicans, although the Montana seat remained in Democrat hands. Nevada flipped in our direction. Mississippi has a run-off on November 27, but the Republican is favored. Arizona and Florida are in the midst of recounts; it appears the Republican will upset the incumbent in Florida and the Democrat will take Arizona. If these results hold, the composition of the Senate will be 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats, enough to force cloture votes and thus block legislation but not enough to block conservative judicial appointments. I have not discussed the Beto O’Rourke race against Ted Cruz, as it is still too painful and familiar to all of us. Suffice it to say we all hope that this is not the last we hear of Beto and the enthusiasm he created. The success at the national level of Democratic candidates seems to be combination of three different elements. First, the party finally coalesced around a message that stressed health care and particularly the importance of covering pre-existing conditions. Republicans, virtually all of whom had supported repeal of the Affordable Care Act and had no viable alternative, were put on the defensive. Secondly, a coalition of new young voters, minorities and suburban college educated white women was developed. This new demographic mix provided solid support. Thirdly, there is no question that many votes for the Democratic candidate were votes against the President and his misogynistic and racist comments. Success is additionally attributable to the large number of highly qualified women candidates and an enhanced ability to raise money in small numerous donations.
At the state level, it was disappointing that no change occurred in the state-wide officers. However, with the exception of the Governor’s race, which had an incredible disparity in fundraising, the margins of victory by the incumbent Republicans were much smaller than in the past. These results reflect the quality of the Democratic candidates as well as the significantly increased turnout.
More locally but still at a state office-holder level, the election of John Bucy and James Talarico to State Representative seats was extremely heartening and was part of a significant increase in the number of Democrats in the state House of Representatives. John’s defeat of an incumbent represented a 22% turnaround from the results for the same contest two years ago. The extraordinary hard work and organizational excellence of both individuals was in no small measure at the heart of their success. They were part of a 12 seat Democrat gain in the House, although Republicans still enjoy a significant majority.
Meg Walsh lost her bid for the State Senate in a very conservative district, but was omnipresent and consistently energetic. She is committed to staying in the arena and will deserve our continuing support. From the very first days that I came to Texas four years ago, I was told that Williamson County was among the reddest of the red counties in the state. The members of the Sun City Democrats do not accept that characterization and we have collectively worked to change perceptions. A significant result from the elections is that both Beto O’Rourke and MJ Hegar carried Williamson County. If we are not yet blue, purple is certainly preferable to red. The thousands of phone calls and door-knocks by so many of our members had measurable results and will encourage even losing Democratic candidates to run again with reasonable assurance that the times are changing. Record 62% turn out in the county (double the 2014 count) portends further Democratic success. Sun City remains heavily weighted with Republican voters. However, the steady growth of the Sun City Democrats to an unprecedented 800 (!) members reflects an enthusiasm and belief that change is possible.
The creation and growth of our Activist Group is evidence of the desire of so many Sun City Democrats to make a difference. Whether it be massive participation in the March on Austin, the writing of thousands of postcards to elected representatives, extensive voter registration at colleges and businesses, or meetings with public officials, countless individuals manifested the belief that activism is of immense value. They showed that we will not be taken for granted or assumed to be in a perpetual minority. I resist naming specific individuals for fear that I will omit participants. Suffice it to say, they have done us proud.
The Board and I cannot adequately express our appreciation to all of you for your efforts over the past two years. We have grow in numbers, but also in intensity. We have come to recognize how many of us share progressive values and care deeply about our community and the nation. We have much to do but should take comfort and pleasure in our achievements. We are a force to be reckoned with!
President, Sun City Democrats
DECEMBER MONTHLY MEETING AND HOLIDAY PARTY
Friday, December 7th
Cowan Center Business Meeting at 4:00 pm, Food and Party at 4:30 pm
A well-deserved HOLIDAY PARTY for our members celebrating the holidays and busy year of record growth! We also celebrate the leaders of the club and the ever growing membership.
We will have an important business meeting immediately prior to dinner to ELECT our new board for 2019-2020, on December 7 at 4:00 p.m. in the Georgetown/Florence Rooms. FREE FOOD!