|1)She's a strong, positive, progressive Democrat, period. She's concise and pointed when she speaks about our failed current public officials but not nasty or divisive. Working families are her natural constituency and she resonates incredibly well with them. On every important issue for Democrats, she's on the mark and then some, with the legislative record and advocacy history to back it all up - without reservations, asterisks, or apologies. To top it all off, she's effective at her job and serves her constituents well.
Think about what a breath of fresh air that would be - not just for us as activists, but for thousands of like-minded Texans who have given up on the Texas Democrats ever having the cojones (ganas?) to make it worth showing up at the polls for them. Our lack of a clear and concise message, coupled with an abject fear of wielding real money to hard-sell plausible outcomes to a statewide audience, has cost us the respect of a generation of Texas voters and led to our marginalization as a statewide party. LVdP doesn't come from timid stock and isn't content to wander in the wilderness of either the Bill Whites or the David Van Oses. She'll tell it on the mountain and the Valley, clearly and convincingly, and while I don't know this for sure, I'd bet she'd be glad to spend the jack to get it out there in something 50% of Texas voters can relate to and digest easily.
2)Rising Star, No Burnt Bridges: Name recognition problem, my butt. Her resume is as solid as anyone's. She's done her time and used it well: 18 years in the State House and Senate, and not a moment of that spent twiddling her thumbs or shirking her duties. She spent the last two years raising her profile considerably and building serious connections - and perhaps more importantly, doing it the right way. From her work with the national party, through the primary and both the state and national conventions, and of course her leadership in the Senate, this woman has made a lot of important friends and very few enemies, and impressed a lot of people from the rank and file all the way up to the national committee (not to mention her Republican adversaries in the Lege who view who her as a force of nature.) She stayed positive and above the back-biting during the primary and worked to heal the divisions afterward. Uniting behind her as our standard bearer could help to bury whatever hatchets are still laying around from last March. Obamaniacs and Hillarycrats alike will warm up to her just fine once they get a good look. And for those who didn't pay attention last year, name rec comes with political credibility and competent messaging, and requires a fair amount of good timing. You can build momentum around a candidacy if you play it right and take it a step at a time. The Current article is, I would imagine, part of the first stage of that game, and shows her very well. Let the buzz begin.
3)More Shoe Leather: Of all the potential suitors for this gig (and there ain't many), LVdP probably has the greatest potential to inspire a legion of capable volunteers that could even come close to what Obama had here. Thus, even if we lose with her, we go down fighting for something and we'd almost certainly alter the political terrain in this state for the better. She can lose and we still get something good out of it.
Speaking of...if this soft opening (the Current article) is an indication of how her ascedancy is going to be managed, then it's a very good sign that someone has their head in the right place and has learned the real lessons of Obama's campaign, without resorting to transparent and feckless hackery (*cough*Brewster*cough*).
4)All Our Base Are Belong to Leticia It's past time for Texas to come to grips with it's political future, and for Democrats that lies within the Hispanic community. And this isn't the Tony Sanchez game - Van de Putte has a real base in a large urban area to build upon, along with stroke around the state and street cred with which to build it. If we get behind her in any serious fashion, we have a chance to drive Hispanic and women's turnout to heretofore-unseen levels in a midterm - and that, my friends, is the Republicans' worst nightmare. Noriega couldn't do it for a number of reasons, but given the right ground game and media strategy, LVdP will.
5)Fundraising? Oh, I think that she can. Both in and out of state. Having Hillary in her corner is not exactly shaking pennies out of the piggy bank. See above about connections and rising profile. And I can also see her utilizing the tools and infrastructure built over the last year and a half to start something of a prairie fire of small-donor giving, which can not only sustain her campaign but function as an incredible PR tool as well. Assuming she runs the right kind of campaign and invests heavily in a thorough field operation, win or lose it'll be money well-spent. Not to mention Annie's List having the mother of all races to throw their considerable talents behind.
6)Age/Generation: our lack of quality starters and shallow bench has been a sore spot and discussed ad nauseum here and elsewhere. To bridge the gap between has-beens(Sharp, Cisneros, etc) whose value as standard-bearers is questionable, and the promising young guns (Anchia, Strama, Maldonado, Turner, etc.) who aren't ready for the majors yet, we've basically got LVdP, Noriega, Chet Edwards, and Kirk Watson as plausible top-tier candidates. Of this bunch, LVdP is the most unique and compelling as a statewide, and she has very good ties and admirers on both ends of that gap. Her willingness to work her ass off, be there for her constituents and colleagues, and recruit good staff and get the best out of them , are all difference-making qualities that set her apart from the others who might wade in.
7) She can help us keep women out of the GOP primary, which sticks them with Perry and sets up well to have the wingers running the show on the other side. Repubs spent a lot of ink, mostly downballot, on race-baiting and war-whooping about immigration, voter ID, guns and bitterness. Against LVdP, they do so at tremendous risk of pushing women, urban elderly, and their last third of the Hispanic vote off the plank and into our lifeboat. It's no secret that urban moderates jumped off en masse last year, but the RPT made up for it by starting rural brush fires of irrational fear and back-porch racism in order to stimulate some of their less reliable but nonetheless like-minded voters. Will those folks show up again, in a midterm, for a party they have no real connection with now floundering? LVdP is not an easy person to demonize and the liberal boogeyman will only get them so far...
8)A jump in Hispanic turnout helps us downballot EVERYWHERE. Unlike Obama, who was a double-edged sword for us outside the urban areas, I think a credible and inspiring Latina candidate at the top of the ballot is a big plus for our statehouse and county tickets and the angry gringo backlash we saw last year will be far less severe, quite possibly putting a few more seats in play and boosting coordinated campaigns wherever they are run. This is the way to seize the opportunity presented by those dubious Gallup ID numbers we saw last week...
As for the Lite Guv idea, yes - I think that could work for Leticia as well, given someone else dynamic and creidble in the Guv slot...Lt. Gov would certainly be right up her alley, and it's much more important in terms of actual legislation getting passed. There are certainly many heads on this hydra, and perhaps it'd be more practical to try and knock them off one at a time, starting with the weakest.
But in the pageantry that is state politics in a midterm election year, for good or ill, the top line is the one that gets the ink and drives the narrative. You have to hunt where the animals are. If LVdP is our strongest narrative, why waste it downticket? Unless the state party is gonna roll out a full slate of serious contenders and launch a coordinated statewide campaign with the cash to ride dirty and a media assault with some teeth this time(and I'm not holding my breath for that one), I think we have to simply to put our best available talent in the skill positions and do whatever we can to help them succeed. Anything else is tantamount to surrender or tilting at windmills, imho.
With all that said, I'm still not sure the numbers even exist to get her over, or anyone else for that matter, in 2010 or any year in the forseeable future.
But the notion of going into this cycle without anything new and compelling at the top of the ballot, right as we're feeling our oats, strikes me as a bit insane, maybe even political suicide. You don't get anything in politics that you don't ask for (except sometimes maybe a drink). Sure, Straus has slapped a quick coat of moderate semi-gloss over the House, but the Senate's a different story, and nothing has really changed in terms of policy goals for the GOP majorities: voter suppression, skyrocketing costs of living (health care, insurance, energy), pillaging our environment and resources, siphoning more money from public education while putting college out of kids' reach...hell, those alone are enough to run a solid campaign on, and that ain't the half of it.
Really folks. Maybe I'm just desperately looking for a way out, but I think Ralph Yarborough is getting tired of rolling over in his grave. Let's give him a rest. Put the wheels in gear and get it moving; if not LVdP, then someone with a fist full of answers and greenbacks who can do a decent imitation of a courageous public servant, and more importantly, let's get all hands on deck to push'em over the top. We can't take much more of this thievery and mendacity. To paraphrase the lady in question, I got kids, man...