Democratic Executive Committee

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate David Alameel waves after speaking during the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Alameel said his rise from poor, immigrant farmhand to millionaire means he understands "working for a living." (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

DALLAS — This past weekend, thousands of Democrats assembled in Dallas for the State Democratic Convention. Cheers erupted throughout the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center as state Sens. Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte were officially nominated as their party’s candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.

But for a party so desperate for some traction in this deep red state, where the Democrats have not won statewide in 20 years, the Democrats sadly appear relegated to small-minded ideology trumping pragmatism. On Thursday, the State Democratic Executive Committee —the driving mechanism behind the State Party— voted to place sanctions on certain candidates in Democratic primaries. These sanctions involved barring said candidates from accessing a database called “VAN” (Voter Activation Network), which allows candidates to access primary voting records of individual voters, thus allowing a more efficient campaign effort in a Democratic primary.

The candidates affected would be those who either voted in the most recent Republican primary election or donated at least $1,000 to a Republican candidate or interest group. This asinine policy is misguided for two reasons.

First, as Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa pleaded to committeepersons on Thursday, the rule could disadvantage many Democrats in rural counties, where Republicans are often the only game in town at the local level.

However, a less-discussed point is that the policy could have the effect of dissuading wayward Republicans from leaving their party and crossing the aisle, so to speak, to the other side. In overruling their chairman and adopting this policy, the State Democratic Executive Committee has sent a message loud and clear that only the purest of pure Democrats are welcome within the party. 

If you had gone down the convention hall to look at the slogans coming out of Dallas this past weekend, they were replete with criticisms of purity tests within the Republican Party. Unfortunately, the Democrats have proved they are no better.

Horwitz is a government junior from Houston.

Latin American studies senior Huey Rey Fischer is running for re- election for the State Democratic Executive Committee.

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

After serving on the State Democratic Executive Committee for two years, Latin American studies senior Huey Rey Fischer is running for re-election because he said there are still problems to address within the state committee and initiatives he wants to see through.

Fischer first ran for the state committee when he was 19. Throughout his time serving on the state committee, Fischer said he has encountered problems because he is the youngest member.

“Young people have to overcome barriers of … proving that they’re capable of doing the job, proving that they have good ideas, expressing those ideas and then seeing those ideas through,” Fischer said.  “A challenge has been really getting older members to the table and coming up with compromising solutions that really help us reach our common goal.”

Fischer said he plans to stay involved as long as there are still problems to fix.

“I wouldn’t be involved in politics if there weren’t things at stake,” Fischer said. “I see my small role in the Democratic Party as one to help get us on track to where we need to be to win elections, so that, at the end of the day, we have elected officials who are representing the interests of the people." As a middle school student, Fischer began his involvement in politics going door-to-door and volunteering for former Texas House representative Juan Garcia, who is the current assistant secretary of the Navy. Fischer later served as a page in Washington D.C.

“That’s where I really fell in love with politics as a tool to impact lives and create change,” Fischer said.

During his time in Austin, Fischer has been involved in democratic organizations in the community, including University Democrats.

Government senior Justin Perez met Fischer when he joined University Democrats.

“We need more young people to serve our party, and not just young people, [but] young people who are actually willing to work,” Perez said. “[Fischer] does it because he cares, and we need more young people willing to give up weekends and evenings because they care about public policy and who represents them.”

While he said he never plans on running for office, Fischer said political involvement is a necessity for everyone, even if it’s a minimal level of voting.

“We see policies affecting us all the time, even if we don’t know specifics … on the local level — as college kids — if we don’t get involved in our city council, the issue of affordability for students won’t get addressed,” Fischer said. “It’s really simple to, at the minimum, vote and have a voice and have a say. If the 50,000 students at UT voted, the city council would be drastically more progressive, drastically more in tune with the interests students have … and we would see that reflected in legislation.”