The Burnt Orange Report :: 20 most recent entries
News, Politics, and Fun from Deep in the Heart of Texas

Date:2003-06-19 03:04
Subject:A New Home
Security:Public

Live Journal has served us well, but we've decided that it's time to move on. We have purchased the domain name: BurntOrangeReport.com, signed up with DreamHost.com to host our site, and in the most daunting task of all, installed Moveable Type. So, in all likelihood, this will be the final post on this site, however, we intend to keep it online as an archive of our entries. So.... what are you waiting for?!?! Check out our new site, and tell us what you think!!


http://www.BurntOrangeReport.com

Please update your links and bookmarks. Thanks.



Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-18 18:58
Subject:El Paso Times Poll
Security:Public

Do you support Gov. Rick Perry's decision to schedule a special legislative session to deal with congressional redistricting? Vote here.

More polls: here and here.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-18 18:37
Subject:More Democrats Attack Perry / DeLay
Security:Public

The Houston Chronicle reports.

U.S. Rep. Martin Forst (D-Arlington):


Rep. Martin Frost, D-Arlington, said Perry's decision means spending $1.7 million in tax dollars for partisan purposes.

"Is there nothing that Governor Perry won't sacrifice to do the partisan dirty work of Tom DeLay and the Republican National Committee? He couldn't find enough money in the budget for Texans' education or health care, so Governor Perry should ask Republicans in Washington, D.C., to refund Texas taxpayers for the $1.7 million he's about to waste on Tom DeLay's partisan power-grab."

Frost also said Perry broke his word, citing comments he made to newspapers pledging he would not call a redistricting special session.

Frost, the dean of the Texas delegation, said DeLay, R-Sugar Land, wants an "absolute, guaranteed" quota of Texas congressional House seats.

"The reality is voters chose to split their tickets in five of these congressional districts ... Republicans have run weak, underfinanced candidates in those five seats in recent years and have lost them. Given a strong candidate with enough resources, they could win five of these current districts," Frost said.

Texas has 32 congressional seats with 17 held by Democrats and 15 by Republicans.

Frost said that five of the 17 seats held by Democrats are in districts carried by every single statewide Republican candidate in 2002 and by President Bush in 2000.

The five districts are represented by Frost and Reps. Chet Edwards of Waco; Max Sandlin of Marshall; Jim Turner of Crockett and Chris Bell of Houston.

But a map considered during the regular session also revised the districts of most of the veteran Hispanic Democrats; split four ways the district of Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin; revised the historically black district of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, paired some of the incumbents and made Stamford Rep. Charlie Stenholm's agricultural district more suburban.

U.S. Rep. Chris Bell (D-Houston):

"It is sad that Rick Perry cares more about doing the bidding of Tom DeLay than about serving the people he was elected to represent," said Bell. He said the money spent should be spent on Texas children. He referred to the planned redrawing of Texas' congressional district as "Perry-mandering," a play on the word gerrymandering.

Democrats have also said the map will cost Texas some clout in Congress because several of those who could lose their seats hold key committee positions. Stenholm is the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee. DeLay has previously said he was not worried about losing those committee positions because he considers the Democrats "rather irrelevant" since they don't vote with the majority.

U.S. Rep. Max Sandlin (D-Marshall):

If a new map is passed by the Legislature, it's likely to end up challenged in court. Sandlin said the map offered during the regular session would have had a tough time passing constitutional muster.

"I believe they are going to have a very difficult time in getting any map they draw passed by a court because they just can't hold themselves back from the greediness," Sandlin said.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-18 18:10
Subject:Redistricting Hearings Announced
Security:Public

The House redistricting committee announced the following hearings:


REDISTRICTING SUBCOMMITTEE HEARINGS

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, June 18, 2003

The Subcommittee on Congressional Redistricting One shall consist of:

Reps. Geanie Morrison, chair, Ron Wilson, vice-chair, Phil King, Vilma Luna and Robert Talton

The Subcommittee on Congressional Redistricting One shall hold two public hearings:

Thursday, June 26, 2003 in Brownsville
University of Texas - Brownsville
80 Fort Brown
Brownsville, Texas
Science Engineering & Technology Building
Lecture Hall

Saturday, June 28, 2003 in Houston
Texas Southern University
3100 Cleburne Street
Houston, Texas
Jesse H. Jones School of Business
Auditorium

The Subcommittee on Congressional Redistricting Two shall consist of:

Reps. Kenny Marchant, chair, Kent Grusendorf, vice-chair, Mike Krusee, Ruth Jones McClendon and Richard Raymond

The Subcommittee on Congressional Redistricting Two shall hold two public hearings:

Thursday, June 26, 2003 in San Antonio
University of Texas - San Antonio, Downtown Campus
501 W. Durango
San Antonio, Texas
Frio Street Building
Room FS 1.512

Saturday, June 28, 2003 in Dallas
UT Southwestern Medical Center (North Campus)
6000 Harry Hines Boulevard
Dallas, Texas
Simmons Biomedical Research Building, Second Floor
Excellence in Education Foundation (EEF) Auditorium

The Subcommittee on Congressional Redistricting Three shall consist of:

Reps. Joe Crabb, chair, Mike Villarreal, vice-chair, Kino Flores, Carl Isett and Jim Pitts

The Subcommittee on Congressional Redistricting Three shall hold two public hearings:

Thursday, June 26, 2003 in Lubbock
Texas Tech University - International Cultural Center
601 Indiana Avenue
Lubbock, Texas
Auditorium

Saturday, June 28, 2003 in Nacogdoches
Stephen F. Austin State University
1936 North Street
Nacogdoches, Texas
Wright Music Building
Alumni Drive
Cole Hall, Room 100


All hearings shall be from 9 AM to 8 PM, with a lunch break from 1 PM to 3 PM. The subcommittee may adjourn or recess earlier or later depending on the work schedule.

For further information, contact:
Bob Richter or Kate Huddleston at (512) 463-0223

For Immediate Release

###

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-18 17:03
Subject:Dallas Morning News Editorial Critical of Perry
Security:Public

The Dallas Morning News criticized Rick Perry today in an editorial on the search for the Killer D's.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-18 16:54
Subject:Texas Democratic Party Response to Special Session
Security:Public

From the Texas Democratic Party Website:


POWER GRAB II: THE RETURN OF DELAY
Perry Becomes the Puppet for Tom DeLay's Unfair Redistricting Plan

AUSTIN - In reaction to Rick Perry's call for a special session on redistricting, Texas Democratic Party Chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm released the following statement:

"Rick Perry has turned himself into Tom DeLay's puppet, and it's going to cost the people of Texas $1.7 million.

"After saying in 2001 that redrawing congressional lines would be "a waste of taxpayer's money," Perry has flip-flopped and joined in Tom DeLay's power grab.

"The people of Texas are sick and tired of these Republican political games. The Republicans just passed a budget that will hurt hundreds of thousands of people. They abused and misused state law enforcement officers when the Killer D's broke the House quorum.

"Even though the U.S. Supreme Court approved a congressional redistricting plan in 2001, Perry has decided to follow Tom DeLay's lead and redraw the lines again. What a waste of time and money!

"In the regular session, the Republican redistricting plan needlessly divided up Texas, marooning rural voters in districts dominated by suburban voters and cutting off urban voters from long-standing neighborhoods. Rural Texans, Hispanics and African-Americans all lost under the DeLay redistricting plan. There is no reason to believe they won't try again to jam down our throats the same sort of outrageous plan.

"Rick Perry and the Republican Party will rue the day they became Tom DeLay's puppet. The people of Texas don't want this redistricting plan, and they will hold the Republicans responsible for wasting their tax dollars on a special session.

"In the end, I believe the Republicans will fail, and power mad Tom DeLay will be denied his power grab."

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-18 16:53
Subject:Redistricting Hearing in Dallas on June 28th
Security:Public

Email sent from the Dallas County Democratic Party:


An Update from the Dallas County Democratic Party

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Susan Hays, Chair

PERRY CALLS SPECIAL SESSION ON CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING

PREPARE TO MOBILIZE ON JUNE 28, 2003

Rick Perry has used his powers as Governor to call a special session on Congressional Redistricting to begin on June 30.

The DCDP has learned that on June 28, 2003, the House Redistricting Committee his planning to hold a hearing in DFW Metroplex. We will
need to mobilize in a massive way to demonstrate our opposition to this unprecedented power grab.

Block your calendar for June 28, 2003 and plan to attend the DFW hearings. Send this message to your friends and ask them to do the same. We cannot overstate the importance of a strong showing on June 28. As soon as details are available, we will forward them out.

Please see the statement below of Susan Hays comments regarding the special session released to DFW media outlets.

______________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: RUSSELL LANGLEY
June 18, 2003
214-821-8331

Comments of Dallas Democratic Chair Susan Hays

Regarding

Special Session on Congressional Redistricting


"Gov. Perry's action today in calling the Legislature into Special Session to deal with Congressional Redistricting demonstrates just how far Republicans will go to defy the will of the voters in Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court approved a Congressional map, the people of Texas voted, and the Republicans cannot stand the fact that voters sent Democrats like Charlie Stenholm and Ralph Hall to Congress."

"It is shocking and appalling that Rick Perry is going to spend over one million tax dollars in this special session on a so-called crisis. This unnecessary expenditure is simply taxpayer abuse. That money would pay for thousands of children to have health insurance. It would pay to put police on the streets. It really makes you wonder what color the sky is in Rick Perry's world."

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-18 16:37
Subject:Rick Perry lies
Security:Public

From the letter Rick Perry sent to Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, and speaker Craddick today:


... I am confident that Democrats and Republicans can likewise work together to develop a map that is fair, compact and protects communities of interest.

Really?? If the main purpose of redistricting is to draw a map with "fair" and "compact" lines that "protects communities of interest", then there's no need for a special session, because, that's what we have currently (notice that Bush carried 21 of 32 congressional districts, and carried 19 of 32 with over 60% of the vote). The proposed re-redistricting plan would tear apart communities of interest. Travis County would be divided into four congressional districts, where Travis County would be a majority in none. Harris County would have two whole Congressional districts, and parts and pieces of seven others. Suburban Houston, and suburban Dallas Republicans would represent rural counties with vastly different interests and concerns. The city of Lockhart, a town of several thousand about 30 minutes to the southeast of Austin, would be divided into three congressional districts.

My point? Be honest about it, Rick. This is a political power grab inspired by Tom DeLay. The purpose is to increase the number of Republicans in Congress through re-redistricting, because it couldn't be done through the ballot box. It's that simple.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-18 13:29
Subject:Perry calls legislative session for redistricting
Security:Public

Well, it's official.

Here is the letter Perry sent to Dewhurst and Craddick.

Meanwhile, a swing vote in the Senate, Eddie Lucio is in the hospital.

Not sure what the Democrats strategy will be this time, or exactly where the two Dem swing votes (Lucio and Armbrister) stand. I'll be posting on updates frequently, but I'm a little busy now.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-17 23:13
Subject:Max Cleland Speech to YDA conference
Security:Public

Great speech by former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Georgia), here.

Here's an excerpt:


I am afraid we are getting sucked into a major ground involvement in Iraq and in Afghanistan with no exit strategy. To say that a three-week war in Iraq against an adversary not linked to 9/11 was a victory against terrorism, and, then, proclaim victory on an aircraft carrier by the President of the United States, is misleading at best. Within days of the so-called victory in Iraq, Al Qaeda was alive and well and killing Europeans, Americans and upper-class Saudis in Riyadh, the very capital of Saudi Arabia. Additionally, LTG. David McKiernan in Iraq says the war is not over. He is right. Since the President declared a so-called "victory," we have buried 34 young Americans killed in Iraq. We are losing young men and women every day. We are trapped in a quagmire. We have 240,000 American troops tied down in Iraq and Kuwait. We have no clear exit strategy. So far we have found no WMD. We have taken our eye off the ball. In so many ways, we have substituted a rogue regime for the true target. The real target is Osama bin Laden and his terrorist cadre around the world.

This administration has not found Osama bin Laden. It has not found Saddam Hussein. And it has not yet found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Supposedly all of that was the rationale for losing over 200 American lives and wounding over 500 American troops so far. We do have to go on the strategic offensive against the terrorists, but we have to chase them down in their own holes, in their own caves, in their own lairs and in their own sanctuaries, wherever they may be. We let Osama bin Laden escape into Western Pakistan in the Tora Bora Mountains of Afghanistan because as we closed the loop on him we violated one of the basic lessons of counter insurgency I learned in ROTC in 1962. You cordon off the enemy and close the loop with your own troops. We relied on Afghan rebels and warlords in the operation and Osama bin Laden skipped country. He slipped through the net. Just like in Vietnam, reliance on South Vietnamese intelligence and South Vietnamese troops always proved costly.

This issue of fresh battlefield intelligence is critical because the way we fight and win the war against terrorism is primarily through intelligence and the network that we create with our allies. We need allies all over the world. We need as many friends as we can get. We must not ignore the warning signals our allies provide, as was the case in the months leading up to 9/11. We can't use our technology and our force if we don't know where the terrorist are and can't target them.

For all the hoopla of the president declaring victory, we have to understand Iraq and Afghanistan are still boiling sores. As long as chaos continues to reign in Baghdad, Basra, and other parts of Iraq, resentment will continue to fester and resistance by native Iraqis will foment. We are increasingly looked upon as outsiders and as an occupying force. If only those in the administration had heeded the warnings of the challenge of post-war stability given by Republican Sen. Lugar, and my fellow Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel, perhaps our troops would not be under constant threat of attack. We have taken on an almost impossible mission. We are trying to police an area as big as California. We can't even keep the peace in California much less in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We are trying to re-build hospitals and schools and trying to provide health care and food in Iraq. We need to rebuild crumbling schools in America. We need to extend health care insurance to the 41 million Americans not currently covered by health care insurance. We need to improve police and first responder capabilities in America. We need to rebuild the infrastructure of America, provide jobs to Americans. But we are trying to make Iraq the 51st state. This administration is doing all of this in a time of record deficits while at the same time slashing taxes for the wealthy. And let's be clear about this "economic stimulus." In the long run, this tax cut will redistribute the tax burden onto the middle class. In the tax bill the president signed, those families with children making less than $26,000 a year were denied a child tax credit while those families making more than that amount were given a $1,000 deduction per child. I ask you this. Does this seem fair? As I travel around this state, I see increasing unemployment, increasing financial hardship and increasing economic devastation due to Republican policies which have become themselves weapons of mass destruction particularly falling hardest on those families making $26,000 year or less.

What then is the Bush record in fighting the so-called war on terrorism? They have not found bin Laden. They have not found Saddam Hussein and as of yet there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. However, we have found two trailers. Is that why we fought the war? For two trailers? Did we send our sons and daughters to spill their blood in the desert over two trailers? We are spending over $100 billion bombing and then rebuilding Iraq while giving a tax cut to America's wealthiest citizens and denying hard-working Americans making $26,000 a year or less a child tax credit in order to pay for it.

Run again, Max. Your country needs you.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-17 12:12
Subject:From the Dean campaign
Security:Public

Okay, you will be inundated with this information shortly, but it is important that you get the news. Hope you guys are having a great summer! Time to turn this out for the good Governor!

1. Register to vote in the Move On primary http://www.moveon.org/pac/reg/. Don't assume you are registered, go here and fill it out so you can be sure to vote for Dean when the time comes next week. This will mean millions of more supporters and hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra support. I work here at headquarters in Burlington, VT and Joe Trippi is really pushing this hard- WE MUST WIN THIS! Please please please. http://www.moveon.org/pac/reg/.

2. Register at http://action.deanforamerica.com for an event for the Declaration on the 23rd. Even if you are just going to lie in your bed, eating cheetos and watching the governor, sign up your "event" so that we can say that this is the most watched announcement in Presidential campaign history. If you plan on going somewhere else or holding an actual party, even more reason to register. We want to make history and we want you to be a part of it! http://action.deanforamerica.com

3. Go to your Meet Ups! If you haven't already, go to http://dean2004.meetup.com and sign up for the July 2nd Meet Up. There will be a big announcement and a big project that will put us over the top given at these events and it is imperative that you come to this event. Bring friends, family, enemies, homeless people, kidnap young children and bring them too! We need all the help we can get and this will be a chance to make history! http://dean2004.meetup.com.

Posted by: Andrew D. Andrew is a political communications sophomore at UT-Austin and is spending his summer as an intern for the Howard Dean campaign in Burlington, VT. He can be reached at: asaf76@yahoo.com.

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Date:2003-06-17 11:31
Subject:Texas Observer on the Killer D's
Security:Public

Good story, here

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-17 02:13
Subject:DNC Flash Ad
Security:Public

The DNC just released a flash ad on its website. It's a comical attack of Bush's likely choice for the SCOTUS called "Bushenstein". Take a look at it. It's pretty well done.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-16 14:02
Subject:TCDP Killer D's Banner
Security:Public

The Travis County Democratic Party made a creative banner celebrating the Killer D's to advertise their online store. Take a look:




Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-16 12:01
Subject:Dean / Clark!
Security:Public

So, will Wesley Clark run for President? The Washington Post reports:


Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who has been flirting with a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination for months, took another step toward a candidacy yesterday. Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" about a run, Clark said, "I'm going to have to consider it."

[...]

He declined to set a timetable for making a decision and reiterated that he still has not joined a political party. But throughout the interview on NBC, he leveled a series of criticisms at President Bush.

On the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Clark said there was "a certain amount of hype" in the intelligence presented to the public before the war. Asked whether Bush had misled the country, he replied, "I think that's to be determined." He added, "It was never revealed what the imminence of the threat was."

Clark also said he would have opposed Bush's tax cuts. He said "they were not efficient" in stimulating the economy and were "not fair" because they were tilted toward the wealthiest Americans.

He said yesterday that he is looking for a way to serve the country after a career in the military. "It's very hard not to think in terms of the welfare of the country, and when you see the country in trouble, in challenge, yes, you'd like to pitch in and help," he said.

I think that Clark would be a great compliment to Howard Dean on a national ticket. He'd bring foreign policy / national security experience and creditability, along with regional balance to a Dean ticket. Regardless, should he not be on the ticket, and Dems retake the White House next year, he ought to be nominated for Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense.

Speaking of Dean, he's going to be putting $300,000 into television ads in Iowa.

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean plans to spend about $300,000 over the next two weeks to introduce himself to Iowa Democrats with an ad that attacks Bush on foreign policy and the economy but also criticizes members of his own party. "Too many Democrats in Washington are afraid to stand up for what we believe in," he says in the ad. Later, he says he believes it is "time for Democrats to be Democrats again."

Interesting strategy. For Dean, I think it's a good idea. He needs to introduce himself in Iowa, before others define him. Unlike New Hampshire, Dean isn't very well known in Iowa. We'll have to see what effect these ads have on Dean's identification and positive ratings in a few weeks.

Update 12:35 PM CST: Well, it looks as if kos is on to the story today, too.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-16 10:40
Subject:Congrats to the Spurs
Security:Public

Even though they beat my Mavs, I'm happy that the Spurs won the NBA Championship. I have several friends in San Antonio, and even though they're still giving me a hard time, the Mavs will win it next year, so I can handle it.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-16 10:01
Subject:Texas Congressional Endorsements
Security:Public

The Austin American Stateman today gave an update on the Congressional endorsements in Texas of the Democratic candidates for President. So far five Texas Democratic House members have endorsed Dick Gephardt (Chet Edwards, Silvestre Reyes, Gene Green, Chris Bell and Max Sandlin), one has endorsed John Edwards (Eddie Bernice Johnson)and eleven have yet to make an endorsement. The article states the significance of these seemingly trivial endorsements:


Lining up congressional endorsements, though frequently dismissed as inside-the-Beltway trivia, is a necessary campaign tactic. Members of Congress are "superdelegates," each having a vote at their party's nominating convention. Significant support also can provide fund-raising traction.

Some members also offer tangible support: raising money, offering volunteers and campaigning.

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, has accompanied his candidates to district events, introducing them and speaking on their behalf. It's the kind of hands-on help that is attractive to candidates, particularly in Hinojosa's heavily Democratic Rio Grande Valley district, where many voters speak Spanish.

Hinojosa remains uncommitted. So does Rep. Martin Frost, D-Arlington, who served as Gary Hart's state chairman in 1984 and spent "a lot of time" in 1988 campaigning for Gephardt in Iowa.

"I think a lot of members of Congress this year are holding back and seeing what develops in the field," Frost said.

Solomon Ortiz acknowledged what Frost said. Instead of supporting Gephardt in lockstep, their holding back:

U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz endorsed Dick Gephardt for president in 1988, but the Corpus Christi Democrat is playing hard to get these days, and he's not alone. Most Texas Democrats are holding tightly to their endorsements, though it's not for the candidates' lack of trying.

"I want to see if I'm in a position to get my constituents a winner," Ortiz said. "We have good candidates, but maybe a dark horse will emerge, and I want to keep my options open."

Still, there has been a major effort to get Congressmen on board with Dick Gephardt.

"I can tell you there was a very sustained and widespread effort to get members behind Gephardt," said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.

Despite having fewer than expected endorsements, Dick Gephardt is seen as the top establishment candidate by many. It will interesting to see if more congressional endorsements follow his perceived frontrunner status.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-14 15:18
Subject:Hook 'em
Security:Public

We're in the College World Series. Go Horns!

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-06-13 13:50
Subject:Life of a Dean Intern
Security:Public

Andrew, a fellow Longhorn, and UD who is an intern for Howard Dean in Burlington, VT this summer has allowed us to post several of his entries on the experience. Andrew has posted a few times on the Burnt Orange Report previously as well.

Here are some clips of his entries from his experience in Vermont. The Burnt Orange Report will periodically post Andrew's experiences in Burlington this summer:

Monday, June 02, 2003:


Alright! Well, I am in Vermont now, fulfilling my duty to God, my country and the good doctor Gov. Howard Dean in his run for President of the United States. This blog will serve as a convenient way for friends, family and others to keep up with my life, the campaign and other relevant topics.

The flights into VT were okay, though there was a nasty delay in Pittsburgh because of the weather. Flew in the world's smallest airliner to Burlington, Vermont, which might just be the most beautiful place on earth. You come down over these lush evergreen forrests covering these rolling mountains with streams and lakes in the crannies. Every now and again you see a little farm house and fields with grain silos. I went from the airport to the "flophouse" which currently houses 12 people with 1 shower, though 3 are moving to another house. We have satellite TV which is good, but no beds. I found an extra air mattress which helps out.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Well, it finally happened. I finally saw the elusive figure referred to in these parts as simply "The Governor." I saw Howard Dean in person today. I didn't get a chance to talk to him as he was dealing with finance stuff and talking to a former elected official. I think its rather pathetic how this guy is like a rock star to me or something but he is really cool. Other than that there hasn't been much for me to do today, but I hope that changes. I really wish I was busy, I want to feel like I am doing something important.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

There were 3200 people at the Rally for Dean last night in Austin. That is the largest non-home state crowd for any candidate in this race so far. In Texas! In my adopted hometown! I know people that were there! News of this miraculous occurance prompted much cheering and shots of vodka and peppermint schnapps (we had no champagne) at the flophouse last night. We were in the midst of the "America isn't Easy" speech in The American President. We need an Andrew Shepard (the president in that movie) and Dean is the closest thing, in fact he's probably even better than him.

Congrats to all my homies in the ATX

Posted by: Byron L. and Andrew D.

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Date:2003-06-13 12:53
Subject:Backin' McCracken - University Democrats making a difference
Security:Public
Mood:accomplished

Last Saturday, Austin held a run-off election for city council place five between Brewster McCracken and Margot Clarke. Both are relatively progressive Democrats, but in Austin city politics, McCracken is a centrist and Clarke a liberal. So, I supported Clarke, right? No. I was Backin' McCracken. Why? I'm a progressive Democrat and I support Howard Dean for President - why would I back an Austin centrist over an Austin liberal?

McCracken had better ideas. He had thoughtful and innovative solutions to Austin's problems (I posted on this before the May election). McCracken certainly had progressive credentials. He had hosted fundraisers last year for State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, former State Rep. Ann Kitchen, and TARAL, and was endorsed by Ann Richards.

Clarke, on the other hand, gave vague non-answers on the budget and other important issues. So what if Clarke had impeccable liberal Democratic credentials as an aide to Jim Hightower, Planned Parenthood manager, TARAL Board member and Texas director for the LCV... she didn't have substantive positions on issues that were important to me... and a lot of other people. In a sense, I saw the election as a contrast, not as much, between a liberal and a moderate, but as a contrast between old Austin, and new Austin. In my opinion, Clarke represented the old Austin, as she was a great candidate on paper (female, experience, activist), but failed to offer a compelling agenda. McCracken, meanwhile, represented the new Austin. While ambitious, McCracken worked to gain the trust of the city by offering new and creative ideas for the city.

As a former President of the University Democrats at UT, stories like this one from the Austin Chronicle certainly make me feel good.


McCracken himself notes that "after May 3, we thought the election was a total tossup. Only during the last week did we get the sense that people were moving my way." He ascribed his showing mostly to his campaign's success at retail politics. "I think it was the grassroots stuff. We had an intensive get-out-the-vote effort; we had (volunteers from) the University Democrats working from 10 in the morning to 8:30 at night on the phone banks." Judging from their numbers at Hill's -- in McCracken's own words, the place was "thick with college kids" -- McCracken is in tune with the Youth of Today. Despite the crypto-Republican image Clarke's supporters tried to pin on McCracken, many of McCracken's own backers are ready to jump on the Howard Dean bandwagon.

Which may be why McCracken fought Clarke to a draw in her urban-core back yard. On May 3, Clarke beat McCracken by nearly 12 points in Central Austin and took 10 precincts by more than 100 votes; this time she only won by four points and only pulled 100-vote margins in five boxes. This is not just a turnout problem, although it certainly didn't help Clarke that turnout in the city center (as was the case citywide) was down a third from May 3, while turnout in McCracken's Northwest stronghold actually increased from the first round. The contraction of the total vote should have affected both camps equally, but while Clarke's total Central vote on Saturday was indeed down by several thousand from her first-round result, McCracken's was more or less unchanged. As the map shows, not only did Clarke's margins across Central Austin drop considerably in the run-off, but she succumbed to McCracken in some neighborhoods -- such as Crestview, Barton Hills, and Enfield -- where she had won on May 3.

According to McCracken, when his campaign phone-banked and block-walked in the city center, they found that while older voters -- the people who always vote, and always for the more "left" candidate -- had their minds made up, younger voters were still undecided. They cared about the environment and social equity and the Chronicle and Sierra Club and SOS endorsements of Clarke, but they also worried about jobs and affordability and were mad as hell about the smoking ordinance, all good issues for McCracken. "It had a lot of the same dynamics as last year when Betty Dunkerley won," says McCracken, who finished third in that race and basically never stopped running. "Folks are concerned about the budget and the job situation, and I think I was a lot more specific on those issues than Margot. When that became clear in voters' minds it obviously had some impact."

Posted by: Byron L.

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