Frank Corte recently announced that after serving 18 years as the representative for state district 122, he will not run for another term. While popular in his district, which takes up most of the Northwest and north central parts of San Antonio and Bexar County, many Democrats see him as too far to the right, even in the conservative district, and being too partisan of a politician, seemingly playing more to the interests of Republican party leadership than the needs of the district he has been elected often to serve.
His decision has opened an opportunity for other Republicans to enter the race, soon after announcing his intentions, Lyle Larson, a former county commissioner and congressional candidate, announced his intentions to run for the state representative seat. There has also been some speculation that San Antonio council member Elisa Chan, a favorite of the business community, may be courted to run for the seat. Both candidates will have many advantages over the Democratic candidate in the November election. The reasons include advantages in fundraising, name recognition, to the conservative leanings of the district. However I feel a Democratic candidate that can energize their voting base can win a close election on Election Day.
Any Democratic candidate will have to navigate their way through numerous issues, there are three issues that will likely define any candidate though. The handling of traffic congestion and in particular the issue of toll roads looms large for all candidates. The district wants a solution to growing traffic congestion but there is also a vocal and very active anti-toll road group to contend with in addressing all possible solutions. There is a strong pro-business sentiment in the North side of San Antonio that cannot be ignored but should be embraced. Also while the majority of the district may look at the state of their wallets when considering who to vote for, many in the district will vote as social conservatives strongly opposing wedge issues like homosexual marriage and abortion rights for women. All these issues must be addressed and are best addressed head on with voters.
Any Democratic candidate should be seen as the real candidate of opportunity, not just for big business but for everyone that calls the district home. There should be a common sense approach to land mines of social issues and a pragmatic touch is necessary on the important fiscal issues facing the district. Ultimately the Democratic candidate can be a champion of consumers, small business, workers, and the environment, balancing the rights of these groups with the needs of corporations that call the district home as well.
Whoever comes out as the Democratic candidate for the state representative seat in the spring, challenges are waiting that may seem insurmountable. While Barack Obama carried Bexar County in the recent presidential elections, John McCain carried the district with two-thirds of the vote. If I were the candidate, I still would not stray from the heart of the issues that define me as a liberal. If anything, I would embrace my ideals as a new generation of “New Deal” Democrat. New Deal Democrats of the 1930s took in many of the ideas of populist Democrats and progressive Republicans of the time, more liberal on fiscal issues and putting social issues at the forefront of the debate. New Dealers were strong on military issues and believed in taking an active role with foreign policy.
This idea of a new type of “New Deal” Democrat in a state representative race would mean that you have to strike a tone between those of the consumers, small business, workers, environment and those of the corporations that do business in the district. It means defining a liberal Democrat as someone who takes care of the social needs of the people but not necessarily at the overwhelming expense of our pocketbooks. It means standing tall with the need of first responders in emergencies as well as those that have served in our military. All this while creating opportunity for all. As a candidate, I would create an environment in the district that encourages self sufficiency for all through creating more than just a hand out but a hand up for everybody, businesses included. Teach a person how to fish, not just giving a person a fish is the philosophy to campaign on for the Democrat running in this district.