Well that would be because Courage is actually McCain's illegitamate black child!
Seriously, Lamar Smith is pretty dull, I've met the guy twice. Ugh, and really short. But what can I say, Lamar is a Lame-R. The JC campaign has already had talks about getting someone into his little even to get an video in case Smith makes a Madla-esque statement.
So some have probably read or heard from me on this one before, but for the benefit of this thread, a Texas rundown!
Ok, first off, statewide, there's nothing that needs adding to the netroots page. There's not stellar netroots candidate here, and seeing as how any Dem in Texas needs at least $3 million to even consider having a shot statewide, this is our of our realm. So let's talk Congressional seats.
Even though it is 2006, this will only have been the 2nd time that we have used the current map as Texas was victum to the DeLay re-redistricting scheme (the 2000, 2002, and 2004 maps were all different). Since 2004, Bush has become less popular in the state, as has the Republican Governor (drawing 2 independents in the race which may alter some downballot turnout).
We have 32 Congressional seats.
-11 Democratic (counting Cuellar)
There are Democrats running in 31 of the 31 seats (with my hometown district of TX-11 going empty). The only Democrat with any serious challenge is Chet Edwards, last of the Blue Dogs that hung on in the 2002 'DeLay scrubbing' that knocked off 4 other incumbent Dems, which combined with the Party switch of Ralph Hall and the retirement of Democrat Jim Turner give us a list of seats that I describe as "if we can't win with scads of $$ and incumbent Congressmen, we ain't gonna win them with less money and the people put up this year". (which is why I look to areas we didn't fight for as hard last time where we have better candidates, changing demographics, and a less competition for dollars).
Let's look at the 4 seats we lost in 2004 and what we have this year, none of which I'd nominate for a netroots candidate.
TX-1 Gohmert (Sandlin loss) - Roger Owen (crazy)
TX-2 Poe (Lampson loss) - Gary Binderim (who?)
TX-19 Neugebauer (Stenholm loss) - Robert Ricketts (even Stenholm lost by 58%)
TX-32 Sessions (Frost loss) - Will Pryor (this was the most expensive race in 2004, over $8 mil)
Outside of these, there are a select few candidates who have received netroots coverage among the Texas bloggers, then after that a smaller set that have maintained active fundraising in districts that are actually winnable.
Courage and Harris are Band of Brothers members. Harrell has a son in Iraq. Sklar is one of the few Dems to get the Texas Ag related endorsements.
Of these four though, Harrell is on the weak side of fundraising, and as of a couple of weeks ago, was still hunting around for a campaign manager. I fear that the netroots pressance over at Kos that the campaign has built is about the only thing built, and little has changed about the district that makes an already difficult seat easier to pick up.
Of the remaining three, Harris (certainly engaged in the netroots as well) seems to have lagged behind in fundraising in comparison to Courage and Sklar as well, though the Net Neutrality issue seems to have raised the profile of his opponent Joe Barton of late, though I'm not sure if that is enough.
That leaves Sklar and Courage, probably out top two netroots targets among Texas bloggers. I will now attempt to run them through the 3 points given in this post.
1. Netroots Presence- not in the district as far as I know, though Kuff is close to it. I wouldn't say that there has been any outreach specifically, though the camapaign has been running on a more traditional path that will make it structurally sound and an actual threat to Ron Paul, who voted against the Katrina relief bill, even though his district is on the Texas coast.
2. Populist or Progressive- You can take a look at his issues or endorsements but I don't think we can say that Sklar fits the bill of progressive really. He's more of a good natured Blue Dog, a better fit the district actually, someone who'd be better than Cuellar, but still no Lloyd Doggett or Shelia Jackson Lee.
3. No Texas candidate would really fit this qualifier, but this seat isn't going to suck up lots of money (Sklar actually outraised Paul last quarter). I'm not sure if there is anything particularly strategic either, though recent poll numbers do suggest an opening here.
1. Netroots Presence- Totally. In fact we have 2 bloggers that are just about working on or with the campaign (myself and Matt as listed earlier). Additionally, in Austin we have PinkDome and In the Pink Texas while tending towards the humor side of politics, have been very effective at becoming snarky attack dogs when needed. There is also the off and on updated http://tx21.blogspot.com/
2. Populist or Progressive- I think I'll have to point out here that Courage was Sen. Russ Feingold's 1st Progressive Patriot as well as DFA's first Grassroots All Star. You can read his primary issues but Courage was highly active in the Texas for Dean campaign, he was against he Iraq war from the beginning (against it back in 2002 when he ran in the old excessively Republican 21st) and has the ability to not have to run away from Democratic values considering that a huge chunk of Progressive Autin is inside the 21st thanks to the last round of redistricting.
3. Texas is not a blue state, but if there is one place that it is, it's in Travis County (Austin) where the 21st takes in half of it. (see the 21st change from 02-06 in this map in yellow). The I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio, the anchors of the district, is one of the fastest growing and demographically shifting. This district had the best performance in terms of votes cast against last fall's Texas Marriage Amendment, including west Austin House swing districts that actually voted against the amendment (in Travis, the only county of 254 to vote against the amendment at all, and by 60%) as well as most all of Hays County just south of Travis, the second best performance county in the state. (map).
More recently, a State House district that was Republican in 2002, 50/50 in 2004, just went 58% Democratic in a well funded and notable special election this spring. And the neighboring district just south which is nearly identical in makeup (and went unchallenged in 2004) has become an open seat with a solid candidate and progressive as the nominee. Two of the three rural counties in the district (Hays and Blanco) are currently being represented by another Democrat who was the only Democrat in 2002 to knock off an incumbent Republican out of 150 state house races and has kept it ever since. Each of these three seats were supposed to be meant for Republicans but because of issues, money, and candidates plus hard coordinated work on the ground, they have won.
Those people are already excited locally about working with Courage who is now somewhere over $130 raised (when he raised $180k total in 2002 without any institutional support). The campaign manager is a skilled guy but one of the new generation of activists (used to tour in a punk band until he got the politics bug).
The campaign website was designed by locals. And one spinoff site Students With Courage has already launched, as part of a UT-Austin rally against Lamar Smith, which also resulted in this great video clip series that put the campaign on the national map. (The liberal University of Texas is entirely within the district)
Lamar Smith will soon be the second longest serving member of the Texas House, elected just one cycle after Tom DeLay. He's never had serious challeneges until Courage (the 04 candidate Rhett Smith didn't campaign at all and recently ran for the Republican nomination for Governor) The guy just sits, builds up money, and gives it away (including to DeLay's defense fund). He needs to be at the least distracted and drained, at best, defeated.
The Unions love John and are IBEW for one is going to be doing a fundraiser for him in DC. Feingold has already come down for a fundraiser with the possibility of Wes Clark coming soon among others. Word also recently came in that Courage would be appearing on the cover of a certain magazine this fall with other Band of Brothers members.
But even with all this, it does come down to the money at times. The DCCC is willing to target if the campaign hits $250-300k by the June 30 filing deadling. That's the biggie. And that's where in my opinion, the greatest value for a netroots targeted candidate lies. Collectively, the difference can be made to aid ongoing fundraising efforts to hit that goal. And once that is done, it will enable the money to compete in a district that has everything going for it this fall in Texas in what is probably the best pickup chance in Texas outside of the allready well funded TX-22 effort.
If there is wind to be had (and we've already seen it in TX-21 in the state house election inside it) and a wave needed this fall, I give you all of the above analysis in this comment as my thoughts on Texas to digest. I admit my bias in being in the district, but I also would be willing to bet that the other Texas bloggers on here would probably agree with the overall points made here.
Speaking as a gay Democrat who's around other day Democrats down here, many of whom were Dean Democrats....
No one cares, knows, or gives a shit about this or the other little gay blips that have popped on an off the screen. The only people that do are a limited set of DC establishment and those types. I would argue that there has been such little infrastructure in terms of glbt efforts from the DNC no one will hear about this through that non-existant infrastructure.
We have enough of a time with unnamed people attacking Dean. I really don't see the point in adding fuel to that fire. DC insiders are festering? Color me suprised.
Hopefully I'll have the audio file soon and post that as an update. What I wrote was what I could get while typing, but more or less, yes, though I think he clarified his reasoning a bit more in the full text.