Travis County Dem Chair Shuffle

Who wants to run the Democratic Party here in Austin?

Current Dem chair Vincent Harding
Current Dem chair Vincent Harding (by Jana Birchum)

Who would have expected the election of the Travis County Democratic Party chair to become one of the most contentious races on the March 2018 ballot? After current chair Vincent Harding announced in October that he wouldn't seek another term, and lead candidate Rick Cofer quit the race after sexual harassment allegations, TCDP Precinct 428 chair Michael Lewis declared that he would file to run. But Lewis has since pulled out, after a website, TheRealMikeLewis.com, gathered a series of distasteful posts he'd made on Facebook, and painted earlier political statements as being against Democratic policy positions. Lewis, who has talked publicly about his move away from libertarian to progressive politics, apologized to his supporters, adding, "I am embarrassed and ashamed by several of the statements from my past." The attack website has since gone offline, and the group that claimed to have paid for it, the Keep Travis County Blue PAC, doesn't show up in county or state records.

Lewis' exit brings a more familiar name into the fold: attorney Anne Wynne, a veteran of both Ann Richards' county commissioner and gubernatorial campaigns, and the founder of equal marriage rights nonprofit Atticus Circle. Wynne has already picked up several major endorsers, including Sen. Kirk Watson; state Reps. Gina Hinojosa, Donna Howard, Celia Israel, and Eddie Rodriguez; and District Attorney Margaret Moore. Joining her on the ballot is Dyana Limon-Mercado, the deputy executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. Limon-Mercado has already picked up one influential supporter: former AISD trustee Paul Saldaña, who believes she can bridge the gap between white people and people of color within the progressive ­community.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Travis County Democratic Party, Vincent Harding, Michael Lewis, Rick Cover, Anne Wynne, Dyana Limon-Mercado

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