Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Night With The Future Speaker of the Texas House

It came off without a hitch. The Fort Bend Democrats’ annual winter fundraiser purred at idle like a finely tuned Maserati, and then revved to a thundering conclusion as the fundraiser honoree, State Representative Senfronia Thompson, in her concluding remarks, brought her audience to their feet in thunderous applause.

Or something like that.

Actually it was a rather sedate evening, punctuated by moments of raucous laughter, loud cheering and hooting as good news on Texas early voter turnout numbers were announced. In case you have been hibernating for the past week, you probably don’t know that the Democratic turnout in Texas’ primary has been stunning. A fact repeated over and over again through the evening.

Candidates were as thick as . . . as thick as molasses. Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage was in one corner, and Precinct 2 Constable Ruben Davis in another. Two candidates for Precinct 1 County Commissioner were present: Richard Morrison and Sharon Wallingford. Albert Hollan and Milton Flick, candidates for district judges (434th and 400th, respectively) were there, as were James Sharpe (1st Court of Appeals, Place 3), Leslie Taylor (1st Court of Appeals, Place 5), Bert Moser (14th Court of Appeals, Place 4) and Susan Criss (Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8). Dorothy Bottos (Texas HD 28) was there with her husband, Richard, as was Ron Reynolds (Texas HD 27) with his wife, Jonita. Art Hall, running for Texas Railroad Commissioner was also working the room.

CD 22 Congressman Nick Lampson got there late and upon his arrival, was immediately called to the podium for a brief speech. Nick did that thing with his voice to get people roused and excited about the primary, and the rosy prospects that we Democrats have in the coming year. On a sober note, Nick dropped the bomb that America’s 9 trillion dollar debt pales in comparison to the 50 trillion dollars that it has in overseas debt.

Rick Noriega, sitting near the very top of the ballot, was in Laredo last night, but his wife, Houston City Councilwoman Melissa Noriega, was there in his place, sitting at the front table with her parents, both longtime Fort Bend Democrats.

Melissa was asked to introduce the guest speaker, State Representative and soon-to-be speaker Senfronia Thompson.

In her opening remarks, Melissa said that Senfronia Thompson was “a force of nature” who believes that “sometimes you have to grab the mike to take over”. Melissa, who served in her husband’s place in the state house while he was deployed in Afghanistan, characterized a female state rep’s style as being a little different than they were expected to be. Where other state reps expected them to “be good girls”, Melissa said, Senfronia Thompson’s approach was to “get out there and get it done”.

The tone was set, and State Rep. Thompson sought to explain why anyone would want to take a job for 36 years that pays $7 a day by explaining that the Texas state legislature is “the only place where I can raise hell without getting arrested. I . . . can . . .RAISE. . . HELL”.

Rep. Thompson touched on the variety of issues that came through the 80th Legislative session including the costs of education versus incarceration: it’s cheaper to educate our youth to be useful in our society than to hold them under lock and key for years on end, the need for state funding of stem cell research, and health insurance for all.

She spent a good bit of time recalling the days when the Democratic caucus, minus a few, who took flight across the state line instead of allowing the passage of Tom DeLay’s 2nd in a decade redistricting, an act that later cost the seats of several Texas Democratic congressmen. She recalled that Tom DeLay sought to have them all arrested by FBI agents for violations of the US Patriot Act. She recalled the actions of fellow state reps, gentlemen who she called WD-40s (white Democrats over 40), who were concerned how their actions in Ardmore, Oklahoma were starting to look back home as Tom Craddick’s political machine unleashed television ads that criticized them for their actions. There was a whimsical story of Willie Nelson’s gift of a case of Jack Daniels Black Label to the Ardmore Democrats, along with a bunch of red and blue bandanas, and about how soon after receipt of both, the WD-40’s went on television sporting the bandanas announcing that “We will stand our ground”.

This became important later on in her speech, as Ms. Thompson urged us all that it is important that we stand our ground as Democrats, especially now as Democrats are going to the polls in numbers that range up to 3 to 1 higher than the Republican showing. She urged us to stand up, to stand our ground and to “get them out to vote on Election Day” “From the courthouse to the White House, leave no stone unturned.”

Or something like that.


Anonymous said...

"On a sober note, Nick dropped the bomb that America’s 9 trillion dollar debt pales in comparison to the 50 trillion dollars that it has in overseas debt."

That's funny coming from a guy who voted to increase some of that debt recently.

Anonymous said...

I sure wished we could of found another real Democrat to fill that seat.

Hal said...

Anyone want to translate that one for me?

sharp said...

Despite having been on the Fort Bend twice previously the election folks misspelled my name. You have adopted their mistake.
The Sharp family whose name I proudly carry are Irish and were too poor to buy a vowel.
Jim Sharp

Hal said...

I knew I was right but bowed to the ballot because what is important is not so much what is right but how it is spelled on the ballot.

That's like my family, but instead of adopting the vanity "e" they decided to drop an extra consonant so they wouldn't be mistaken for the enemy.