A total of 113 candidates are on the ballot for the March 7 Democratic Primary in Texas. Of those, 15 are members of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, and five of those are gay men, according to Michael Moon, Stonewall president.
“We have a full slate this year, with candidates running at every level, from governor to U.S. senator to constable,” said Jesse Garcia, communications director for Stonewall. “We’re very happy with the enthusiasm of our local Democratic Party.”
Moon said the number of candidates is an important sign that the Democratic Party in Dallas County is gaining ground in a county that has long been a Republican bastion.
“The past two years, the legislature has been called and recalled into sessions and special sessions. They did the worst job ever this last session,” Moon said. “Instead of doing something about school financing and tax reform, they spent all their time worrying about cheerleaders and gays. There are lots of folks who are very upset. They created the most negative feelings toward the Legislature in years, and that is beneficial to the Democrats.”
Moon said that frustration with the Republican-controlled Legislature means that Democratic candidates running in areas traditionally controlled by Republicans have “a real chance this time.”
Gay Stonewall members on the ballot include Andy Smith running for the Texas House in District 107, Jack Borden and Tom Malin facing off for the Democratic nomination in District 108, Jim Foster running for Dallas County Judge and incumbent Mike Dupree running for re-election as constable in Precinct 5.
The other 10 Stonewall members on the ballot are state Representative Rafael Anchia, running for re-election for House District 103; Katy Hubener running for House District 106; Carlos Cortez, running for district judge in the 44th Civil Court; Emily Tobolowsky, running for district judge in the 298th Civil Court; Carter Thompson, running for district judge in the 5th Criminal District Court; Larry Jarrett, running for criminal district attorney; Teresa Tolle, running for judge in County Criminal Court No. 4; Alan Barr, running for judge in County Criminal Court No. 6; Peggy Hoffman, running for judge in County Criminal Court No. 9; and Scott Chase, running for Dallas County Commissioners Court in District 4.
Moon said he was particularly pleased to see so many Democrats running for judicial seats, especially those that are Stonewall members, because he believes them on the bench would better, more fair treatment for GLBT individuals in the courts.
Stonewall Democrats holds its candidate screening session on Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 6 p.m. After the screenings close on Sunday, Stonewall members will vote on endorsements for the primary.
“We are giving each candidate 10 minutes. We have 64 slots, and they are almost already all filled,” Moon said on Tuesday. “These are candidates requesting to speak with us. They are actually coming to our community and asking for our endorsement and our support, and they are willing to work to get it.”
The organization’s decision to endorse Dallas City Council District 2 candidate – and eventual winner – Pauline Medrano, who is not gay, over transgender lesbian candidate Monica Greene created controversy within the GLBT community. But Moon defended the organization’s process.
Although individuals can renew lapsed memberships the day of the screenings, Moon said the process is designed to virtually eliminate the possibility of “stacking” the meetings in favor of a particular candidate.
“You have to be there to hear every candidate in a particular race or you cannot vote on the endorsement in that race,” Moon said. “It requires folks to put in a lot of time and effort. And as far as who we do endorse, there are no behind-the-scenes machinations going on. There are no predetermined endorsements.”
Moon said that usually between 20 and 30 Stonewall members show up to participate in the screening sessions and endorsement vote, but “there may be as many as 50″ who attend this weekend’s meetings.
“It comes down to some very difficult decisions sometimes. The race in District 108 [between Borden and Malin] could be one of those hard decisions this time,” Moon said.
“It all comes down to who is the most qualified in the minds of those who attend the screening and endorsement meetings.”
Moon also said that Stonewall would not automatically endorse a GLBT candidate over a non-gay candidate, as the District 2 Council race showed.
“You have to look at the issues and the candidates’ experience. We went with the candidate we felt had the most experience,” Moon said.
He added, “Our community cannot win with just the GLBT vote. We have to work in coalition with other, like-minded groups. We have to make our endorsements based on what is best for our community, but we have to recognize the needs and issues of other groups, too.”
Candidates screening with Stonewall are asked to fill out written questionnaires. This year, Moon said, the candidates will be asked how they voted on Proposition 2, the anti-gay-marriage amendment that Texas voters passed by a 3-to-1 margin in November.
“We have heard from some candidates already who said they voted for it. When that comes up, you listen to them, and you’re polite. But I seriously doubt any candidate who voted for Proposition 2 will get our endorsement,” he said. “And I am sure that the vast majority who will ask for our endorsement voted against the amendment.”
Moon said the screenings are open to anyone who wants to attend, but only Stonewall members whose dues are paid will be allowed to vote on endorsements. “We also ask that only Stonewall members ask questions of the candidates during the screenings,” he said.
At present, Moon said, there are 300 Stonewall members. New memberships and renewed memberships will be accepted up until 30 minutes before screening sessions begin on Saturday.
Visa and MasterCard will be accepted.
The Democratic Primary election is set for March 7. Early voting begins Feb. 21 and runs through March 3. The 2006 general election is set for November 7.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas holds screening sessions from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, at the John D. Thomas Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 2701 Reagan St. in Dallas. The organization meets every third Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Ojeda’s Restaurant, 4617 Maple Ave.
Stonewall Democrats Web site is www.stonewalldemocratsofdallas.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2006.