Calling Texas the biggest battleground in the country, the Texas Democratic Party kicked off its week-long state convention Monday. Due to the pandemic, the event is being held entirely online.
The politics of coronavirus and COVID-19 are front and center as the party faithful seek to rally the troops in advance of a November election in which they hope to turn Texas blue.
“Now more than ever, we need a change in leadership to get our country back on the right track,” said National Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez in opening remarks to the party. “This pandemic has laid bare the utter incompetence and inexperience, ineffectiveness, lack of empathy and compassion of Donald Trump.”
In a panel discussion about the state’s handling of the pandemic, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino bemoaned the challenges of managing the pandemic while dealing with conflicting actions out of Austin.
“I’ve been through a lot of these emergencies, and I’ve never had one where the state worked so hard to undermine the work we were doing at the local level,” said Jenkins.
Trevino said it was extremely disheartening and disappointing when the state left it up to local leaders to make the difficult decisions and then stepped in to take that authority away.
“I think we’ve seen that steady, if not necessarily an increase, but the steady numbers continuing statewide as a result of some of those decisions where they’ve taken away our local authority,” he said.
Adler said the messaging from Austin has gotten very confusing as the state has moved to reopen. He worries that confusion will lead to increases in COVID-19 cases.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo agreed, noting Texas has not seen its numbers begin to come down. She is baffled by how much some people are trying to politicize the pandemic, particularly with her. She says the time for politics will come later.
“We need to get to a point where we’re not teetering on the edge of an outbreak and risking having another shutdown,” she said. “That’s the last thing I want. I think it’s the last thing anyone wants.”
The convention will continue through Saturday, when presumed Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden will speak. Other speakers include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senators and former presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
While the Democrats meet virtually, the Texas GOP is moving ahead with an in-person convention in mid-July in Houston.
“They are willing to put everybody’s life at-risk in order to score political points with their base,” Rahman said in a statement published by the Texas Tribune. “We wish they would follow the advice of healthcare experts and not put people at risk, especially the hospitality workers that will need to host them.”