Lone Star Project: Fighting Back with Facts
By Matt Angle
Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:00pm
The Lone Star Project was launched in early 2005 before the back drop of a harsh political reality. Texas, without question, was under one-party Republican control. Tom DeLay was widely recognized as the most powerful member of the U.S. House after an outrageous mid-decade redistricting had cost the Texas congressional delegation its most senior members. Texas Republican leaders were boasting, with great credibility, that they were poised to end Chet Edwards’ career and stretch their lead in the State House. Worst of all, the Republicans in control in Texas, and the Texas Republicans in control in Washington, were more interested in expanding and consolidating power than in serving our State or our nation.
We established the Lone Star Project as a no-nonsense federal political action committee. It is supported by federally qualified contributions from individuals and other PACs who support our work. We knew the Project would likely never raise enough money to be a large direct contributor to political races, but we also knew that modest, targeted financial contributions combined with in-kind support that was not otherwise available could make a real difference. We also believed that by using factual information to frame the unquestioned failure of Republican leaders in Texas, we could arm candidates and other Democrats with some of the information needed to win back the trust and support of mainstream voters.
The goals established for the Lone Star Project were specific and ambitious.
- The Congressional map challenge remained alive, and we still had the chance to get at least part of the map overturned to restore the voting rights of Texans. The Lone Star Project would stand as a factual authority on congressional redistricting and help garner the legal and political resources to continue the fight through the U.S. Supreme Court.
- The Lone Star Project would help respond to Republican policy failures and political attacks aggressively and factually, providing allies and other Democrats with cited facts to rebut false rhetoric and bad policy.
- The Lone Star Project would help research and expose the failed Texas Republican leaders who were protecting power rather than serving the public. When necessary and as resources allowed, the Lone Star Project would support, and sometimes initiate, legal challenges to these failed leaders.
- Finally, to help Democrats approach each campaign realistically and use their resources efficiently, the Lone Star Project would serve as a resource for both challenge and incumbent candidates for factual election, demographic and polling information.
Two and a half years later, the political landscape is quite different. A partial Supreme Court redistricting victory resulted in a redrawn South Texas and Ciro Rodriguez reclaiming a congressional seat. Tom DeLay politically and ethically imploded, leaving Congress as a cowardly, pitiful disgrace. Nick Lampson is back serving Texas. Chet Edwards remains one of the most effective and respected Members of Congress in the country. Democrats in Texas are off the mat and fighting back. Confidence fueled by resurgence in national Democratic strength, a more effective and professionally run Democratic Party in Texas and dozens of smart, creative online efforts that help inform, motivate and mobilize Democrats.
While the Lone Star Project is only one of the elements that have come together to begin the process of rebuilding Democratic strength and responsible leadership in Texas, it clearly has become an important resource and valuable ally for Democratic candidates, activists and party leaders.
Throughout the remainder of this cycle, the Lone Star Project will be more aggressive than ever.
- We will continue to document and expose failed Republican leaders with detailed, fact based reports.
- When necessary, and as resources allow, we will support litigation to stop Republican efforts to block access to the ballot and suppress minority voters.
- We will further refine and develop targeting tools to help our candidates and party leaders make the best use of scarce political financial resources.
- We will poll more thoroughly and more aggressively in key districts to help identify our best chances to win marginal seats, particularly where demographic changes and new Democratic activism are combining to improve our prospects.
- We will continue to build and improve the new Lone Star Donor Mine, which will serve as fundraising data base to help new candidates get off the ground and help current office-holders improve and expand their fundraising efforts.
As someone who was in the middle of the mid-decade congressional redistricting fight and who had worked hard over many cycles to hold marginal congressional and legislative seats, I wasn’t ready to simply move on and accept Republican control. Fortunately, others, many of whom had worked harder and longer than me, were ready to stay in the fight too. Perhaps more important, new and energetic talent has come forward bringing fresh ideas and new strategies to help Democrats reform our party and begin to fight back effectively. It is an exciting time to be a Texas Democrat, and our combined efforts are more important than ever.