OK, so let me get this out of the way up front. Losing sucks. Sharon Hirsch’s race for HD66 is still too close to call, but the narrow losses of Sarah Depew for HD67, Mark Phariss for SD8, Suzanne Smith for State Board of Education, and Ramona Brumfield for Justice of the Peace leave all of us disappointed and frustrated.
We wanted Lorie Burch to represent us in Congress, and Democrats to serve in all our other offices. We had such high hopes for Beto and the many other outstanding statewide candidates who visited Collin County so frequently that we have come to consider them friends.
So, whether you need to eat a half gallon of ice cream, get intimate with a fine Bordeaux or single malt scotch, or binge watch your favorite streaming series, do what you need to process your grief. Because we need to get past it and focus on the positive and the opportunities ahead of us.
The bottom line is that we broke the decades-old Republican monopoly on elected partisan offices in Collin County! That is worth repeating – we broke their monopoly. A small wedge of the County around Wylie and Sachse will now be represented in the US Congress by DEMOCRAT Colin Allred.
And in a coup that many party insiders have been working on for over a decade, we not only finally put a Democrat on the important 5th Court of Appeals, but we also we flipped it from an all-Republican court to an 8 to 5 Democratic majority in a single election! Hearty congratulations go to Justices-Elect Ken Molberg, Robert Burns, Robbie Partida-Kipness, Erin Nowell, Bill Pedersen, Amanda Reichek, Cory Carlyle, and Leslie Lester Osborne, and to Jeff Dalton their campaign manager, who spread around some of the magic he has long practiced in Dallas County.
And beyond that – we always have believed that Collin County would be in play this year. But prior to last night, no credible independent observer voiced such an astounding notion publicly. Beto at 46.5% beat Clinton’s 2016 performance of 38.25% by over eight percentage points. Cruz’s performance at 52.7% was the worst a top-of-ticket Republican has done in the county in decades. And in 2016 there was a five to seven percentage point drop-off from the top to our down-ballot candidates. This year that drop-off averaged around three percentage points.
The vast majority of our candidates pulled in over 42% of the vote, beating our best Democratic performance of 2016 of 41%. Only seven of our forty-two Democrats got less than 40% of the vote, contrasted with 2016 when only one out of seventeen did better than 40%. Our base Democratic vote in the county (state Supreme Court justices, who usually don’t have the resources to campaign) skyrocketed from 33% in 2016 to 43% this year.
Most significantly, preliminary analysis of early voting indicates that at least half of these gains came from people who formerly voted Republican and decided that the Republicans no longer represented them. This is a base voter shift that will affect the county for decades to come.
And as one final word about last night, we can be very thankful that Democrats took control of the US House of Representatives last night. They will be able to protect Social Security and Medicare, stop more tax giveaways that primarily benefit the super-rich and balloon our debt, and start holding the President and his administration accountable.
We can also be thankful that Governor in seven states flipped from Republican to Democrat, giving the promise of easing of voter suppression and stopping Republican gerrymandering after the 2020 census.
Looking forward, it should now be clear to everyone that Texas is in play for 2020, and that Collin County will be a battleground. We’re on everyone’s map now. No one should any longer believe what the Collin County Republicans have liked to say, that we’re the “reddest of the red”. Through our many great campaigns, we have built up a strong cadre of campaign managers, activists, and donors that far exceeds any effort by any party in this county ever. Our candidates, with the county party, knocked on more doors, made more phone calls, wrote more postcards, reached more voters online, and raised more money by orders of magnitude than any other year Democrats have been on the ballot here. This is the kind of foundation we need to win in 2020 and beyond.
We had a fine group of candidates this year and hope they all decide to run for office in the future and build on the progress they made. For those who don’t decide to run again, our progress this year is certain to attract more strong candidates in future years.
With the Democratic majority in the House able to hold the Administration accountable, and the President himself being on the ballot again, 2020 presents us the opportunity to take the Presidency and the Senate and hold the House. We have a chance to take the State Legislature in 2020 and prevent Republicans from gerrymandering again after the 2020 census.
And Texas Republicans have four more years to make it undeniably obvious to even the blindest partisan that they are unwilling and unable to govern for the benefit of all the people of Texas. With our performance this year there’s a strong probability that we will sweep the state in 2022.
On behalf of our officers and County Executive Committee, I offer my sincere thanks to everyone who stuck their necks out, put their lives on hold, and ran for office this year. And I offer special thanks to their campaign staff and the multitude of volunteers who gave their all – they left nothing on the field.
In closing, I have a special message for those who woke up and got involved on that horrific morning of November 9, 2016. I know losses are heartbreaking, but if there’s anything that the last few years have shown it’s that democracy isn’t something that we can do on an episodic, crisis-driven basis.
We got into this mess because too many citizens chose not to be involved. Our way out of it is by getting them involved and staying involved ourselves. It’s said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. I’ll add that the price of a functioning democracy is an engaged citizenry. Like nature, power abhors a vacuum. We must stay active so that the government serves the people and not the rich and already powerful few.
Our work is cut out for us, but we have a clear path ahead and a strong foundation to build on. Please join me in building for our future.