Leaders hope Republican failures, scandals prompt voter rebellion this year
Turnout in the March 7 primary elections was low; in Dallas, it was only about 3 percent overall.
But gay Democratic leaders said this week they can see the seeds of change beginning to sprout among voters disgruntled with the status quo.
Republicans control the Texas Legislature, which failed to come up with viable education finance reform in its last regular session and two subsequent special sessions. And at the federal level, several lawmakers in the Republican Party have been caught up in scandals and criminal investigations in recent months.
To top it off, President Bush’s popularity has plummeted, with fewer voters than ever before believing that he is doing a good job handling issues like U.S. involvement in Iraq, the budget deficit and more.
Michael Moon, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said that is good news for Democratic candidates, and for GLBT people who have been targets of anti-gay measures promoted and passed by socially conservative Republicans.
“There is a high rate of dissatisfaction with the government right now. People say we are paying too much in taxes. There are reasonable voices calling for our taxes to be better spent, instead of sending billions of dollars to Iraq, or spending billions on special give-aways to big corporations,” Moon said.
“The people want to see jobs. They want us to take care of our seniors. Those issues are really starting to resonate with the voters,” Moon said. “If you walk down the street in Oak Lawn, those are the issues people are talking about. And they are not hearing any answers from the people in office, the Republicans.”
In Texas, voters are concerned with “the real bread-and-butter issues,” said Bayless Camp, a former president of Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats.
“People here care about how our state is being run, especially in terms of education. I think if the Democrats in this general election can articulate a message, a real strategy for positive change, that’s what the voters want to see.”
Shannon Bailey is president of Stonewall Democrats of Texas and a member of the Dallas Stonewall chapter.
He said he believes that Gary Fitzsimmons’ race of district clerk is one of the most important local races.
“Gary is the most viable gay candidate we have running countywide in November. Lupe Valdez won the countywide race for sheriff in 2004, and to have another gay candidate win a countywide race will be a sign of our viability as a community,” Bailey said. “That would show that the voters look at your qualifications, not your orientation.”
Other gay candidates on the November ballot in Dallas will be Jim Foster who is running for county judge, Jack Borden who is running for the Texas House in District 108, and Mike Dupree running for re-election as constable in Precinct 5.
Dupree defeated his Democratic primary challenger and has no opponent in the general election.
Stonewall has also endorsed non-gay candidates in several other races, including Barbara Radnofsky, a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Radnofsky fell just short of a 50 percent majority in the primary, and will face Gene Kelly in an April 11 runoff.
GayU.S. Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts chats with Stonewall Democrats of Dallas members during a reception for him at the Melrose Hotel last weekend. Frank believes the gay rights movement will best move forward through political activity rather than protests.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 24, 2006.