Some history, for the sake of disclosure: One benefit -- of from what I can tell is often many -- of not working in politics is that no one can ever accuse you of a professional bias. While the lines blur between bloggers and paid communications specialists, press events become steak dinners and receiving a CHI Iron is a party favor, I get to stand on the sidelines and help those who I believe in. I also get to enrage those who I don't and remain unconcerned with the consequences.
I was very involved in the Larry Joe Doherty for Congress campaign in 2008, supporting Larry Joe through the primary and into the general after seeing his somewhat fire and brimstone style at a candidate forum. I was never associated with the campaign professionally and, while I spent countless hours phone banking, blockwalking, putting up yard signs and annoying his staff, I was never a paid employee of the campaign. I believed Larry Joe could win then, and I believe he could win now. These are my opinions and do not reflect that of any campaign that does not exist yet.
There were, like any campaign, some mistakes. The previous campaign began with an expensive primary battle in Austin, and it never really left primary mode. Harris County outreach seemed neglected leading up to the general. Ideally the campaign would have moved to Houston -- it didn't and the numbers on Election Day showed this mistake. Wounds that seemed to run deep between Austin Democrats weren't mending, and as far as I could tell, winning the hearts and minds of Austinites became a constant struggle and sore spot for the Doherty campaign. No one rolled out the red carpet for Doherty. There seemed to be an immediate visceral reaction to the way Larry Joe sounded and looked -- twangy and in cowboy hat. We were almost rid of George Bush. Who on Earth wanted another urban cowboy?
This was my first thought when I went to see Doherty and Dan Grant speak. My second thought was that both candidates were incredibly well-versed on the issues. But my very next thought was that Doherty was as angry as I felt. There was a lot to be angry about then. One could argue there's even more to be angry about now, we just have someone else delivering the bad news.
If Larry Joe runs again, I don't know what his platform will be or where he'll end up on the issues. But I know that if you get him talking about water conservation, you won't be able to make him shut up. I know that he believes dung beetles -- and our farmland -- are more important to our long-term ecosystem than Rick Perry's failed Trans-Texas Corridor. I know he respects the Bible but he believes in the Constitution. I know he's not afraid to say things that another candidate might shrink away from, usually because they really need to be said.
I hope this is the kind of campaign Larry Joe decides to run, should he end up running. When you've already lost, you have nothing to lose. Karl Thomas Musselman from Burnt Orange Report asked me on Twitter yesterday if I thought Larry Joe had a better chance of winning. Hard to say. I don't care about his chances -- I only have to believe that if he did win, Doherty would be a better Congressman than McCaul and that I can help him win. "It's time, money and votes," Doherty says. In varying sums, I can offer all three.
And if Democrats, the DCCC, moderates, independents, and disenchanteds are really as tired of Michael McCaul as we all say we are, it's time to put our time, money and votes on the table.