Group says candidates seeking its backing will face tougher standards
With a slew of contested primaries on tap in March, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas plans to make it tougher this year for candidates to secure the group’s backing.
Stonewall, which bills itself as the largest Democratic group in North Texas, will hold its candidate endorsement screenings for the primaries Jan. 14-16 at Resource Center Dallas.
An unprecedented number of candidates are expected to seek Stonewall’s endorsement in 2010, and several races feature multiple members of the group squaring off against one another.
Stonewall Democrats President Erin Moore said that in the past, candidates could sometimes receive the group’s backing if they merely pledged to "do no harm" to the LGBT community.
"We’re sort of upping the bar, to where a neutral position may not be acceptable anymore," Moore said this week. "At the very least you’d need to be an ally or an advocate. Because there are so many contested races, we’ve got a real chance here to strengthen the LGBT movement."
Moore said the new, tougher standards will also apply to incumbents and other candidates who’ve received the group’s endorsement in previous years.
"We need to re-evaluate our politicians to see if they’re doing the job we expect them to do," Moore said.
"It’s not automatic that if you got the endorsement in the past that you’ll get it again. … Just because you’ve been elected doesn’t mean you should be elected again."
Omar Narvaez, political director for Stonewall, said he expects more than 50 Democratic candidates who’ll appear on the March ballot to seek the group’s endorsement.
Narvaez said Stonewall leaders were working this week to send out invitations to all candidates who filed to run before the deadline Monday, Jan. 4.
As a result of this year’s accelerated primary season, Stonewall has abandoned its written endorsement questionnaires and expanded its in-person candidate interviews to cover three days, from Thursday through Saturday.
"It’s the first time in our history we’ve had to extend it that far out to get everybody in for an interview because we’re getting an overwhelming number of requests for endorsements this time around," Narvaez said.
He added that eliminating the questionnaires will have the benefit of preventing candidates from researching their responses.
"This way they’ll actually give us their true answers," he said.
Following the candidate interviews, Stonewall members who attend the endorsement screenings will vote on their recommendations, which must then be ratified by the general membership during the group’s regular meeting Jan. 19.
At least one local candidate who’s also a Stonewall member said he has no problem with the tougher standards.
Openly gay Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who was endorsed by the group in 2006 and will seek its backing again this year, said he wouldn’t describe past endorsement screenings as "light."
But Fitzsimmons said now that Democrats are the majority party in Dallas County, they have to be more selective about who they put on the ballot in November.
"Everything changes when you’re the majority party," he said. "You can’t be irresponsible anymore. You can’t just put anybody up — because they win." •
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will hold its endorsement screenings for the 2010 primaries from Thursday, Jan. 14 through Saturday, Jan. 16 in the Rainbow Room at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St.
The screenings will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Only Stonewall members whose dues were current as of Dec. 14, 2009, can participate in the endorsement screening process.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 8, 2010.