Thursday, February 24, 2005

Running our race

The 2006 gubernatorial race is almost upon us. Seriously, campaigning for the primaries has already begun for some. Kay Bailey Hutchison has been putting people together for her run and has been travelling the state, Gov. Rick Perry has been releasing list of supporters to scare KBH and Comptroller Strayhorn off. Kinky Friedman has been doing whatever the hell it is he does to get headlines and support. Then there is Chris Bell. The former Congressman who had the guts to file an ethic complaint against Tom DeLay that resulted in his latest two rebukes from the ethics committee in the House (before they packed the committee with Tom DeLay's contributors and friends). BOR has a letter from Bell explaining why Democrats shouldn't vote in the GOP primary, but should concentrate on making our party stronger.

Dear Friends,

In recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak with many Democrats across Texas as I've begun the process of exploring the race for Governor. We've discussed the failures of the Perry administration on issues ranging from school funding to reducing teen pregnancy. We've discussed the revolving door of influence-peddling in the capitol that has Texans questioning the integrity of our elected officials. We've discussed the need for a renewed commitment to our state's world-class higher education system. And often, too often, we've ended up talking about our shared frustrations over the course being charted for our state by Republican ideologues in Austin.

It would be easy for Democrats in Texas to allow our frustration to regress into despair as we see how thoroughly the GOP has come to dominate our state government in recent years. This is particularly true when the self-anointed political experts start ceding this governor's race to Sen. Hutchison before she has even entered it, much less survived what is sure to be a bloody and vitriolic primary. But while the road out of the wilderness for Texas Democrats does not always appear well-lit, it is a road we will never travel if we allow our frustrations to prevent us from taking the first steps.

Make no mistake about it: This Democratic nomination is worth having. Over the last three years, Democrats have won gubernatorial races across the Great Plains and the West in states far more conservative than Texas. In Kansas and Oklahoma, in Montana and Wyoming, Democrats have taken back statehouses after decades of Republican control because they were first and foremost unwilling to accept the conventional wisdom that says Democrats can no longer compete in red states.

In the upcoming months, I hope to start a regular conversation with you about the future we can build together for Texas. Let's talk about how we can rebuild our education system to lift children up and prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow. Let's talk about how we can clean up Austin to restore public faith in the integrity of our government. And let's talk about how we can rebuild our party so Texans will never suffer the illusion that the choice between moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans is the only real choice we have. This is a conversation that our state and our party desperately need, and I sincerely hope you will join me in it.

Sincerely, Chris Bell

The more I hear from him, the more hope I feel for my state's future. I think he just might be the guy. I don't know yet, all I've heard is rhetoric. But he's a promising candidate. I don't know if I'm totally supportive, but I'm willing to give a few bucks next paycheck to his exploratory committee so that he can continue to travel Texas and talk to people. I might even put his Web site up on the links list.

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