Replacing Mark Strama in HD-50: Endorsement Roundup

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Early voting in House District 50, and around Texas, starts in only 2 weeks. That means Democratic clubs throughout Austin have been endorsing, so their voices can be heard as much as possible and their members would know who to support with time, money, and votes.

Of course, endorsements aren't the election, and there's varying debate as to their importance. Here's a recap of the conventional (and likely accurate) wisdom. Most club endorsements, themselves, only barely affect elections beyond the organizations' listing on campaign literature. That said, winning endorsements could be a sign to supporters and potential donors that a candidate is doing well. And further, an organization can put extra weight behind their name; for instance, the University Democrats are organizing phonebanks for Celia Israel, and the Central Labor Council almost always does some measure of work to push their endorsements, too.

There's a couple caveats to that conventional wisdom, though. First, the election is only taking place in one sixth of the county, and some organizations simply have even less sway within the district. For instance, there is no way one can describe HD-50 as going into the south of town, yet the South Austin Democrats issued their endorsement, anyway. Second, this is a special election in an odd-numbered year, so any little advantage in this low-turnout race can mean a lot.

As you'll see below, Celia Israel has won a significant majority of liberal and Democratic club endorsements. That might show a large front of Democratic activists favoring Israel. But how much does that really mean?

Below the fold, find out who endorsed whom and read more analysis as we reach the home stretch of this race.The following is a list of organizational endorsements:


Celia Israel

Austin Area Central Labor Council

Stonewall Democrats of Austin

Austin Progressive Coalition

Austin Tejano Democrats

Austin Young Democrats

Central Austin Democrats

North by Northwest Democrats

South Austin Democrats

Stonewall Democrats of Austin

University Democrats

Capital Area Progressive Democrats

Austin Environmental Democrats (co-endorsement)

Democracy for America

Equality Texas

Victory Fund

Texas Association of Realtors

Texas Society of Professional Engineers

Rico Reyes

Hispanic Bar Association

Travis County Sheriffs' Law Enforcement Association

TX Nursery & Landscape Association

Capital Area Tejano Democrats

North East Travis County Democrats

Austin Environmental Democrats (co-endorsement)

Jade Chang Sheppard

[I could not find any organizational endorsements for Jade Chang Sheppard.]

Ironically, the ranking of Democratic candidates with the most endorsements is opposite the ranking of candidates in fundraising advantage, according to the last reports.

So, this makes any predictions on HD50 even harder than they were before. At one point, Jade Chang Sheppard was seen as a clear favorite, but favorite status cannot be put on her anymore. No one can be called the favorite, anymore. In fact, some people question Jade Chang Sheppard's long-term viability if she even wins the Democratic nomination. As the Austin Chronicle reports, she has largely avoided the endorsement competition. But if she wins the temporary seat in November, some wonder if another Democrat will give her a hard time in March.

But that's a question for another day. For now, a Democrat must win in the first place. The problem with three strong Democratic campaigns — all strong in different ways — is that they will inevitably split the vote among Democrats in the special election.  That leaves the one Republican, Mike VanDeWalle, with a likely runoff spot unless the Democrats pull off a masterful Get Out the Vote effort. And if it's a Democrat against a Tea Party Republican like this one, local Democrats will coalesce no matter who has the D by their name.  

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