Sunday, February 10, 2008

Big Spring, Midland, and El Paso

Our first Saturday event was in the beautiful Howard County in the city of Big Spring. Hosted by the Shipmans in their home, nearly two dozen locals came to enjoy a wide array of breakfast treats prepared by Ann Weaver- who lives up to her reputation as "Mrs. Democrat" in Big Spring. After some mingling around the house, Rick introduced himself and gave his stump speech with his wife Melissa at his side. People were very engaged and asked Rick a series of questions from Health Care, the war, the economy, and the importance of the local VA hospital which has had funding cuts when this area desperately needs its services. We can't ask Texas to sacrifice for this war and then not make the resources available for those fighting it after they returned home.

That message resonated over in Midland on our next stop. Meeting at the local Democratic Headquarters (yes, Midland has one), we were greeted by a diverse crowd in the "belly of the beast" as Rick called it- Tom Craddick country. But even here Democrats are fighting back (challenging Craddick for one) and running candidates for competitive local races. The minority population is growing all across West Texas and that's evident in the candidates that are running for office. Noriega had a couple of television interviews, one in Spanish here, as well as a chat with a local newspaper reporter. He then gave a rousing speech about shared sacrifice and that it would take all of us together to bring about change for Texas. He said that too often Democrats write off large parts of the state and segments of voters and that he was going to do his very best to run and earn the support of voters in all 254 counties. After that, those in attendance partook in an old-fashioned passing of the proverbial hat to help support Rick's campaign.

About 5 hours later (and not many rest stops in between) we arrived in El Paso at which point this blogger split off from the remainder of the campaign and headed home on a flight direct to Austin.

Report from Lubbock

Our meeting in Lubbock was a real treat. Hosted at the Democratic Party Headquarters there, it was a standing room with an incredibly diverse crowd. Young and old, women and men, anglo and hispanic, workers and retirees, party regulars and independent organizers- they all crowded into the presentation room along with the local television and print media. The local Democracy for Texas chapter was there along with students from the newly operational Democratic group at Texas Tech. All in all, an inspiring time in Lubbock where local Democrats sense change in the air, running new candidates and ready to help elect Rick Noriega to the U.S. Senate.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Report from Plainview

An hour's drive later and we arrived at the Plainview Country Club for a lunch hosted by former Speaker of the Texas House, Pete Laney, Rep. Joe Heflin, Mayor John Anderson, and some of the area county chairs. The chicken fried steak had plenty of gravy and green beans but the couple dozen local leaders were attentive in listening to Rick speak. He touched on many of the same themes and focused on the squeeze of the middle class. Many points were made more poignant because of the people in the room- a sophomore in high school perked up when Rick talked about college affordability and the tuition crunch that Corny has let get out of control. The veterans in the room were interested in Rick's views on the consequences of the war in Iraq, and how it has taken America's eye off the ball in Afghanistan where we may be letting Al Queada grow stronger.

Report from Amarillo

We started this morning in Amarillo with a short meeting over at the city paper, the Amarillo Globe-News whose office sported the following slogan over the door: "A newspaper may be forgiven for lack of wisdom but never for lack of courage." In front of the office was one of many decorated horse statues scattered across the city, sponsored by the American Quarter Horse Association (this one named "Nay-boring Vistas".

Afterwards, we headed over to a reception at the Ambassador Hotel, hosted by Roberta Hicks (SDEC) and attended by Democrats from across the Potter and Randall County area. Upwards of 75 people attended, mingled, and met with Rick. He spoke about standing up for Texas families, working to lower college tuition, and making sure that Texas children have access to health care. It was a stark contrast to John Cornyn who has let college become unaffordable for the middle class and voted against the federal CHIP legislation multiple times. Four television stations were there along with Univision with whom Rick did a spanish language interview, all of which will help Rick get his message of change and standing up for the middle class out to more voters in Amarillo.

Rick Noriega in Amarillo

Texas is a big state- this much we all know. But it really becomes apparent when you get the chance to travel across it. After a highly successful tour through South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, Rick Noriega's campaign is now swinging through the western quarter of Texas. Starting in Amarillo, we'll be stopping in Plainview, Lubbock, Big Spring, Midland, and El Paso over the next couple of days. While there are fewer stops, there are just as many miles to cover in this wide expanse of oil and agriculture. I'm joining Rick on the road this time and will be dropping in now and again with updates.