Party Chair Sends Message To Democrats After Devastating Election
November 5, 2010

The chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party has reached out to fellow democrats after Tuesday’s election which ended in devastating losses for the Party.

Some have called on Gerry Birnberg to resign, but for now he sounds ready to continue the fight:

(full context of letter)

There is obviously no sugar coating the reality that we took a terrible blow at the polls this week. Nationally, accomplishment of the President’s agenda has been horribly stalled by the ascendency of an obstreperous Congress committed only to his defeat. In Texas, providing health care for children, affordable higher education, fair representation in government, and a multiple other advances for all of us seem seriously threatened, if not downright unachievable. And locally, we have lost some of the most exceptional and competent public servants we could ever hope to have represent and serve us – Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, District Clerk Loren Jackson, Judges Dion Ramos, Kathy Stone, and Robert Hinojosa, and State Representatives Kristi Thibaut and Ellen Cohen.

We could simply conclude that Harris County is, after all, irreversibly red – that it is, and always will remain, solidly Republican. We could simply give up and give in.

But we are not going to. We are going to continue to fight for the principles and ideals and leaders we so fervently believe in and we are going to persevere until we complete the job we set out to accomplish – a county, state, and national government as good as its people, and as diverse, and compassionate, and caring, and competent and effective.

Yesterday I filmed a TV show with my Republican Party counterpart, Jared Woodfill. And as I sat there next to him basking in the recent victories of the Republican Party, I remembered how defeated they were just two years ago. And yet they came back (temporarily, in my view) in just two short years.

We can do that, too. Democrats can return to victory in Harris County – if we resolve and work to do so. And so I ask each and every one of you to join in the fight and to continue working hard every day for the next two years to bring about the result we so fervently seek – Democratic electoral victories.

I know we lost horribly on Tuesday night, but I could not be prouder than I am of the terrific group of dedicated staffers, and the hundreds of committed volunteers who made tens of thousands of phone calls, knocked thousands and thousands of doors, distributed boxes and boxes of literature, e-mailed, tweeted, facebook posted, registered voters, attended events, and reached out in so many ways to tell the Democratic story and seek a different result. If we can maintain that spirit and that dedication and that energy and enthusiasm, we can really achieve what we set out to do.

The objective we seek has not varied, because the values we embrace and the things we believe in and know ultimately we can accomplish have not changed. If we pick ourselves up, and rededicate ourselves to the goals we know we can achieve (because we did so convincingly in 2008), November 6, 2012 can be a much happier day than November 2, 2010 – not just for us individually, but for us as a community, a state, a nation, and a people.

Let’s go get ‘em, Democrats!


Thank you,

Gerry Birnberg
Chair, Harris County Democratic Party


DNC Chair To Headline Local Dinner/Fundraiser
September 26, 2010

With early voting scheduled to begin in a few weeks  some local democrats say they are optimistic about turning Harris County blue this election year.  

While the D’s  made some gains in 2008 thanks to Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign,   opinions are divided over whether the party  can sweep the countywide seats up for grabs in 2010.

That’s where former Virginia Governor and DNC Chair Tim Kaine steps in.  Kaine is flying in on Friday, October 8th,  to headline the party’s annual Johnson-Rayburn-Richards dinner. 

The event is a political fundraiser with individual tickets ranging from the minimum $140 to a high of   $10,000 to be a “cornerstone of success member.”

The theme of  Kaine’s speech will be “Building our Future.” 

No doubt Kaine’s presence in Harris County will help pump up the party faithful  and energize those who are not as enthusiastic about voting on election day.

The Gay Controversy That Won’t Die In The Runoff Race For Mayor
November 19, 2009

Supporters of  Houston Mayoral candidate Annise Parker are holding a fundraiser in her honor, and the event  will feature the national and state leaders of  a  gay rights organization.

“Victory In Diversity”  it a chance for people to donate to Parker’s campaign and meet the leaders of  Stonewall.

 The event comes at a time when Parker’s sexuality is being made an issue by conservative leader Steven Hotze.  Some have also sent out a political flyer picturing Parker with her partner of  many years.

The Parker campaign has tried to mayoral candidate  Gene Locke to the movement, but Locke has strongly denounced those tactics, while admitting that he did meet with Hotze  before  the general election to discuss a possible  endorsement.  Hotze endorsed Roy Morales, who finished in fourth place.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party issued a statement denouncing the anti-gay rhetoric, and urging candidates to stay clear of  Hotze.


Steven Hotze is a hatemonger.

For nearly twenty five years he has stoked the flames of bigotry in this community like no other local politico. In the mid-1980’s he masterminded the repeal of the City of Houston non-discrimination ordinance which had been enacted by Mayor Kathy Whitmire and the Houston City Council. The following year, he fielded a group of right wing zealots to run for City Council on the “Straight Slate.” Their platform consisted of unadulterated gay-baiting epitomized by the reply of their mayoral candidate to a question of what could be done about the AIDS epidemic: “Shoot the queers.” Hotze would not repudiate that response, nor the mayoral candidate who uttered it. Fortunately, they all lost.

Hotze continues vehemently to espouse his brand of extreme intolerance. For example, he regularly insists that the death penalty is filling for homosexual conduct. And in 2008, he insisted, without one iota of evidence, that gays and lesbians were devoted to “recruiting sexually confused adolescents into their lifestyle.”

Hotze’s bigotry and extremism are not confined to homophobia. His anti-women beliefs are evidenced by his strident insistence that “a wife may work outside the home only with her husband’s consent.” And in 2008, he was reportedly behind the financing of a blatantly racist piece of campaign literature which depicted Barack Obama, Harold Dutton, Congressmember Sheila Jackson-Lee, and the Anglo Democratic candidate state legislature in House District 144, and an ominous line of black crows on a dead tree, with the caption “birds of a feather flock together.” Maybe he wasn’t the person who arranged financing for that shameful piece as has been suggested, but the political consultant with whom he has worked for years was the author of the flyer.

And Hotze is virulently anti-Obama and ardently anti-Democrats. He intently opposes health care reform. And on November 12, 2009, he sent an e-mail across Texas in which he disclosed his commitment to defeating Democratic state legislative candidates in the 2010 elections, asking, “Will we continue down the road of socialism, universal health care, and the leadership of Obama / Pelosi / Reid? Or will conservatives finally stand united and declare ‘Enough!’ in the face of economic and moral starvation?”

Anyone who is as dedicated to destroying the Democratic Party and crushing its candidates and unyieldingly opposed to the anti-discrimination principles of the Democratic Party as is Steven Hotze cannot be embraced by Democrats.

It has been reported that before the November election, more than one Democrat still running for city office in the December 12 runoff sought the support of Hotze or one of the gay-baiting groups with which he is associated. The Houston Chronicle has recently called on all candidates to repudiate the hateful and divisive rhetoric of these folks. (Do The Right Thing – It’s time to disavow the politics of discrimination and bgotry. Click here to read.)

I do, too.

Hotze did not endorse the Democratic mayoral candidate who sought his endorsement before November. Instead, he threw his support to the Republican in the race, Roy Morales. And the Democratic mayoral candidate who solicited Hotze’s help before November has publicly condemned the “divisive rhetoric” and “style of campaigning” Hotze has always embraced. Good for him.

But all candidates – judicial, city council, and mayor – take heed: whether in the December 12 runoff election, the March, 2010 primary election, or the November, 2010 general election, accepting support from anyone who, like Steven Hotze and the right wing extremist groups with whom he is associated, spews homophobic rhetoric, racial hatred, and intolerance, who would subjugate women to the dictates of their husbands, and who is working tirelessly to destroy the Obama administration, block heath care reform, and defeat Democratic legislative candidates would be anathema to Democrats and contrary to the cherished ideals for which we stand. Courting endorsement from such despicable individuals or groups – or failing unequivocally to repudiate and reject it should such support be unsolicitedly bestowed – would be reprehensible, condemnable, and utterly unacceptable to Democrats.

My Dad used to say, “You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” He was right.

Gerry Birnberg
Chair, Harris County Democratic Party
November 17, 2009