Collin County Local Politics: Our Top 10 Strategies to Win

April 13, 2024

I don’t usually brag but I can’t help crowing about donating to Marilyn Land’s campaign. I played a role in her victory! Who is Marilyn Lands? She’s a counselor (go mental health professionals!) who just won a state house district in a red part of Alabama. She beat her Republican opponent by 25 points, a huge margin!

Ms. Lands heavily leaned into the message of women’s reproductive freedom (abortion and IVF). As has been true in races across the country, her campaign was buoyed by lots of women angry at the elimination of their reproductive rights. It’s almost as if women are figuring out that Republicans don’t care about us. Huh. Who knew? It’s also important to note that this was the second campaign she’d run; her first was unsuccessful.

I can hear the complaints now: this is a column about local politics. Why are you discussing a special election in Alabama? Because, dear readers, it has strong implications for what we do in Collin County. For far too long, we’ve been reacting to the moment and focusing solely on the immediate future. In a state as gerrymandered and voter-suppressed as Texas, that’s no way to win. We must play the long game. Here’s a top 10 list of things Democrats must do to be successful:

  1. Contest every single race. It’s like the old saying: you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Lands’ win was a surprise but it couldn’t have happened without her being in the race. If voters are angry and ready for a change but have no one to vote for, that’s a disaster.
  2. Understand that just running is a victory. Every contested race makes the Republicans spend money they otherwise would put into larger races. Every contested race is an opportunity for Democrats to educate voters about our values. Every contested race connects candidates with people who otherwise might not be paying attention to politics. Every contested race prevents Republicans from ignoring their constituents, secure in their knowledge that no one is going to stop them.
  3. Candidates commit to running at least twice. Marilyn Lands’ previous run was a way for voters to get to know her, to build her base. Being a candidate comes with public awareness and this fame can be leveraged even after the election. Beto understood this. He utilized his prominence to talk to the media about Democratic values, attend large group gatherings, and build goodwill through charity work. Former candidates can blockwalk for other races or Democratic issues and keep their names front and center. The first campaign is only the beginning.
  4. Unapologetically put our values front and center. Lands talked about her own abortion, putting that fact front and center. She was joined on the campaign by another woman who’d recently had to leave the state to have an abortion. By sympathetically telling their stories, by not letting anyone else dictate their narrative, they put forward their truth and a lot of people related to them. The world of Republicans is small, mean, and exclusive. Democrats must show people what a compassionate and inclusive society where everyone has rights and dignity looks like.
  5. Once elected, hold the line for our values. We have plenty (far too many!) Republicans in Collin County. Voters aren’t going to vote for a Republican Lite. We must stop trying to win over Republicans (or the practically non-existent Independents) and instead concentrate on energizing the Democratic base. We must show everyone how our values benefit them and engage in the fight against fascism (looking at you, local school boards!), regressive policies, and selfishness. We must not take one step back.
  6. Focus on municipal elections and local leadership possibilities. We build generational power from the bottom up. This means getting Democrats on local boards and commissions, heading non-partisan organizations, and running in local races. I have an entire speech about the importance of local politics (seriously, I can go on for hours!). Decisions made locally are the ones that will affect you the most. Municipal elections are where your vote has the most impact. Local politics are how we build our bench and get people excited about civic participation.
  7. Vote in Every Single Election. Elections are often low-turnout affairs. That’s not great but the silver lining is that whoever shows up wins. This is especially true for run-offs because so few people vote in those elections. Did you know that 68% of incumbents lose in run-offs? That’s because the passionate voters (usually the ones seeking a change) are the ones who show up. We need to be those people! Texas tries to prevent people from voting. If you’re like me, that means you’ll vote if for no other reason than to stick it to The Man.
  8. Donate to the Collin County Democratic Party (CCDP). We are the ones responsible for recruiting candidates, training them, and coordinating their campaigns. The county party hires election workers and fields a voter protection team that ensures the Republicans won’t get away with cheating (we know they’ll try it) and your vote will count. We’re the people calling, texting, postcarding, and knocking on your door begging and pleading with Democrats to get to the polls. All of this takes time, strategy, and money. So please, please, please DONATE! We can’t win broke!
  9. Run for office. Yes, I’m talking to you. I know you can do it! You’ve seen the idiotic, selfish, mean-spirited, and criminally-minded candidates the Republicans are running. The bar is low and you definitely can do better than that! It may seem scary but it will be the adventure of a lifetime. CCDP will help you and there are a lot of resources you can access for free. Still reluctant? Your community needs your help with fixing roads, providing healthcare, improving schools, and generally making things better. Running for office is how you help your friends and family live their best lives.
  10. Engage in real activism. Get off the internet and start doing something meaningful. Fighting with people on Facebook solves nothing. Really and truly. I dare you to show me otherwise. There is plenty you can do that will have a major impact. Attend city council, commissioner’s court, and school board meetings and let people know what’s happening. Write op-eds for local newspapers. Hold potlucks, meet and greets, or postcard parties to educate your neighbors. Text, call, or knock on doors to urge people to vote for our candidates. Join a campaign. Volunteer for CCDP; we’ll put you to work in no time.

Marilyn Lands stepped out of her comfortable life and ran for office, knowing she might lose, but determined to make a difference. She refused to play it safe, hoping others would protect women’s health, democracy, and other things she holds dear. She knew, as we all should by now, that no one else is going to save us. We must save ourselves. This means getting involved and joining the fight even if it means making yourself uncomfortable. Our democracy, our rights, and our very lives depend upon it.

Comments 2

Share Your Thoughts