Naked City

It's a Party -- Bring a Chair

The State Democratic Executive Committee meets this Saturday at the Red Lion Hotel in Austin, and the magic number is 32. If everybody shows up, 63 committee members will elect a replacement for Molly Beth Malcolm, stepping down after 51/2 years as state chair. At press time there was still a handful of candidates, although former Railroad Commission candidate Sherry Boyles dropped out of the running last week and was followed soon thereafter by former state Sen. Carl Parker, who in passing denounced his opponents for spreading nasty but unspecified rumors about him. The front-runners at press time appear to be former land commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Garry Mauro and current party general counsel Charles Soechting, an attorney with the San Marcos office of O'Quinn, Laminack and Pirtle and formerly Hays Co. party chair. Mauro has a higher statewide profile and a long history of party organizing, although memories of the 1998 Gov. Bush landslide do not warm all members' hearts. Soechting has been a stalwart in the fight against congressional re-redistricting, and Travis Co. Dems say he can be relied upon to keep the party solvent -- Soechting assisted Malcolm in getting the party out of debt where it had been mired before her tenure.

Also in the race are state Rep. Garnet Coleman, San Antonio labor attorney David Van Os, and committee member and former state Senate candidate Mary Moore. Coleman's popularity in Dem circles has expanded this year with his lead role in the redistricting fight, but he initially announced only for "interim" chair -- until the state convention next summer -- and some committee members are said to want to fill the job permanently. (Mauro had also said "interim," but then changed his mind.) Van Os is a leader of the party's "progressive populist" caucus, which tried in vain to oust Malcolm at the 2001 meeting, and he briefly considered running against her prior to last summer's convention but was dissuaded by star-crossed gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez. Mary Moore of Bryan is presumably the dark horse. Party insiders say that while Mauro and Soechting are the front-runners, a race this short with this few voters is unpredictable. "It could take several votes to decide a winner," said one former officeholder. "It's hard to get anybody to commit for certain, and they'll switch depending on what somebody said to them yesterday."

Meanwhile, state Republican Party Chair Susan Weddington also resigned last week, so that Gov. Perry could appoint her as chair of the OneStar Foundation, the governor's nonprofit to promote volunteerism.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Naked City

    The Texas Association of Business finally consents to cooperating with a grand jury investigation of its electoral practices.

    Naked City

    Prison reformers protest plans for a for-profit detention center near Laredo.

    Naked City

    Why does the West Texas sheep town contain the brain of state government?
  • Naked City

    The comedian goes to jail as his appeal goes to court.

    Naked City

    Bush's military-intelligence expert -- at war with Satan!

    Naked City

    Republican honchos seek to influence route of public project in Bexar County.

    Naked City

    Street speech

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle