Forget the spectacular failure of Battleground Texas. Forget the nomination of statewide candidates who lost virtually every Democrat constituency on Election Day. Instead consider these statistics and realize just how far the Texas Democrats are from being a viable political party in this state.
This lack of a bottom-up strategy was particularly glaring on Dec. 9, 2013, the filing deadline for 2014 candidates. Far from attracting a number of qualified and vigorous candidates to the Democratic banner, Battleground and the party ended up ceding much of the field to the Republicans without even a whimper. In fact, Democrats failed to recruit anyone to run on their ticket for more than 40 percent of all state legislative positions on the ballot. The end result would be almost a two-to-one Republican majority in both the Texas Senate and the House. Even more depressing was the party’s showing at the county level. Democrats could not find anyone willing to run for County Judge (chief elected official in the county) in 165 of Texas’ 254 counties, ceding almost two-thirds of all counties to the Republicans without an election. Thus, by 2015, while the Democrats will retain the county judge in four of the six largest counties, the GOP will hold all 29 suburban county judge positions, 18 of 21 in the other metropolitan counties scattered around the state, and 150 of the 198 small town county courthouses. Of all the major counties in Texas, only Dallas, Bexar, El Paso, Jefferson and Travis, along with the border counties of Webb and Hidalgo, will have a Democratic county judge.
And even more depressing than that was the fact that not a single Democratic candidate could be found who was willing to run for any county office in 86 counties—more than one-third of the total. These 86 included the heavily populated suburban counties of Denton, Johnson and Parker (outside Dallas-Fort Worth), Montgomery (suburban Houston) and Comal (north of San Antonio) as well as the other urban counties of Bell (Temple), Randall (Amarillo) and Grayson (Sherman). As the saying goes, you can’t win a game if you don’t field a team.
Let’s be honest – we Republicans did not have to win the election on November 4, 2014. We had already de facto won the state legislature and a great many counties eleven months previously when the Democrats didn’t bother tor run candidates for office. Let’s be honest – the Libertarians and Greens may have been more effective in recruiting candidates than the Democrats were – though those two parties did not entertain the delusion that they would actually elect anyone to office. That leaves one to question whether the Democrats deserve to be considered a major party here in Texas – and whether Democrat leaders can even be viewed as having contact with reality.