Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Harris County Democratic Party Should Inject Greater Partisanship Into Houston City Council Races


I recently e-mailed Harris County, Texas Democratic Headquarters and asked if the Harris County Party endorses candidates for Houston City Council. (I said in my e-mail that I was a blogger and that I was going to write on this subject.)

Here is the reply I got from the helpful gentleman at headquarters—

The Harris County Democratic Party does not endorse in City Council Elections, HCDP Chair Gerry Birnberg’s policy is  HCDP does not endorse in city council elections, unless and until there is a run-off and there is only one Democratic candidate in the runoff 

Okay—No reason to step into a fight between Democrats.

(A runoff is held if no candidate wins 50% of the vote in the General Election.)

I followed up by asking if the party sends a mailer out informing rank-and-file Democrats about who is a Democrat on General Election Day. 

Here was the reply— 

Unfortunately, we do not have the funds for such a mailer. On a couple of occasions where we have endorsed in the run-off, we have sent postcards to folks who voted in the first election and also in the last Democratic primary, where the Democratic candidates in the run-off have provided funds for such a mailing. 

I understand the party may not have the money this time around. Fine.

What I’d ask is for the Harris County Democratic Party to consider injecting a greater degree of partisanship into Houston City Council elections in the future and, also, to consider raising funds to promote Democratic Council candidates in 2009.

Houston Council elections may officially be non-partisan, but political parties can send any mailing they wish. Or run any radio ad they wish. Democrats are a majority in Houston and this majority should be worked on Election Day.

Partisan identification gives voters a shorthand on what to expect from candidates. Within that identification, candidates still have the ability to carve out specific profiles and stances on important issues that set them apart from a party-line.

The current so-called non-partisan system of voters selecting five at-large Council members and a district Councilperson with musical chairs six-year terms, works against the interests of democracy and against the interests of the majority party in Houston.

People should know who they are voting for. I’d be happy to donate myself for this purpose.

Let’s have no more Michael Berry-types filling at-large seats on Houston City Council.    


September 24, 2007 - Posted by | Elections, Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics


  1. Thats why I’m not too thrilled about the “party”. I believe they are self appointed, antiquated organizations that have their own personal agenda that doesn’t include the (full) needs of the Democratic Community. They have WAY too much power these days and do not do enough. I have worked outside the “party” and have had more success with canvassing, sending out fliers and mail-outs etc..for GOOD candidates..at ALL levels..NOT just the ones the party deems worthy to spend money on. (usually “higher” levels of govt. and almost ALWAYS only “winnable” ones)

    I applaud you for asking them! It’s people like you that I get with to do some REAL good out there. The time for someone holding our hands or giving us permission to get the job done is past..it’s OUR time now.

    Comment by Tammy | September 25, 2007

  2. Tammy—Thanks for the commment. I agree that “viability” seems often to be all that matters in who political parties will support. In reply, they might say where are the rank-and-file when it comes to writing checks and volunteering?

    In the case that I’m witing about here, I think the Harris County Democratic Party should “re-imagine” its role in Houston city politics. More can be done and the myth of non-partisan needs to go away.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | September 25, 2007

  3. I was curious if anyone know of some possibilities for Houston City Council in ’09. A lot of seats are opening b/c of term limits and I am just curious as to who some of the newcomers will be.

    Comment by Mandi | July 1, 2008

  4. Mandi—I’m not up on that enough to know. If you click the blog called Off The Kuff on my blogroll, he might have a post somewhere on his blog that might address the issue. Also, Matt Stiles and the politics blog at the Houston Chronicle might have some info as well.

    Thanks for reading Texas Liberal. Please visit again.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | July 2, 2008

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