Panel discusses potential future of the Democratic Party in Texas

Hayden Clark

Panelists discussed the future of Texas politics at a forum hosted by the Polymathic Scholars Student Leadership Panel on Wednesday.

Matt Glazer, founder of the Glazer Group — a political organization in Travis County — said the values of Texans, whom he says are uninformed about their elected officials, differ from opinions held by the Democratic and Republican parties. 

“The Texas value system, from my personal belief, is about community and getting together to make solutions,” Glazer said. “I think that’s what a failure of the Texas Legislature has been. If you were to poll Texans, what they would say [is that] they don’t know their elected official, that the governor doesn’t speak for them or they don’t know how to trust that civics [has] made a difference in their life.” 

Harris Media CEO Vincent Harris, who also ran the online operations for Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign, said the advent of the Internet has significantly altered the financial cost of campaigning in Texas.

“People always say you have to have money to win Texas because it’s a state of 26 million people, and it costs more than a million dollars a week to be on state-wide television,” Harris said. “I think that is changing. With the Internet, candidates like Wendy Davis, candidates like Ted Cruz, will be able to level the playing field in what has traditionally been a sort of insider game in the state when you have to have deep pockets.”

Harris said he thinks the Internet will help potential voters become more engaged in the candidates’ platforms. 

Matt Mackowiak, who worked on the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, said the Medicaid program holds local and national governments to different standards.

“The problem is states have to balance their budget, and the federal government doesn’t,” Mackowiak said. “If the cost … for the state is not guaranteed for the future, then the current legislature, the current governor, are taking on a long-term cost for the state.”

Emmanuel Garcia, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, said the party supports the Medicaid expansion because it improves health care.  

“Medicaid expansion was going to bring 230,000 jobs around $50,000 average salary, incredible movement in the health care issue,” Garcia said.

Garcia said Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Latino outreach program isn’t as effective as it should be.

“[Abbott] was going to Mexican restaurants and he went [to] one Mexican restaurant and you know who he showed up with? Ted Nugent.” Garcia said. “That was Austin Latino outreach — a guy who said he would shoot people at the border. Awesome Latino outreach program.”