Williamson County, Texas, just north of Austin, is a fairly conservative county. Its largest city, Round Rock, is among the fastest growing cities in the nation, thanks in no small part to the flood of high tech jobs centered on Dell Computers’ international headquarters being located there. In spite of its conservative reputation, Williamson County voters elected liberal Democrat Diana Maldonado to the Texas House in the 2008 Obama wave to represent District 52. This year, Maldonado faces a very strong challenger in Republican Larry Gonzales. Gonzales received a very unexpected endorsement Tuesday, when the Williamson County Democratic Party chairman, Greg Windham, resigned his post and endorsed Gonzales on his way out. In resigning, Windham posted the following:
It is quite apparent that many members of the Williamson County Democratic Party leadership are interested in following a more liberal national agenda than listening to the majority of their constituents here locally. As a fifth-generation Texan and longtime supporter of Conservative, Texas principles, I find myself isolated within the party ranks and unable to relay my message of fiscal responsibility, family values, free-markets, and fair play.
The divisive, rigid leadership with the State and local party have made it clear from the beginning of this term that they have no interest in my opinions; engaging in personal name calling, the marginalization of the Chair’s voice, and claiming my Texas ideals are out of touch.
I have a hatred of tyranny and contempt for its tools and being that I cannot sit down quietly and allow my mind be used for the spreading of an agenda that will further divide our citizenry, I choose now to resign as Chairman.
As one Texas blog put it, Windham’s post amounts to a Blue Dog Democrat’s 99 Theses on the Wittenberg chapel door. If the mainstream media is sincerely looking for a party in civil war, they should look no farther than Texas, and center-right regions like Williamson County.
State Rep. Maldonado’s reaction to Windham? She called Windham a criminal and suggested that he needs psychiatric care. That’s left-wing tolerance of dissenting opinion for you.
On Wednesday, Gonzales made a campaign stop in Round Rock. I caught up with him, iPhone in hand, and asked him about the situation and what it means for his campaign to replace Maldonado in the Texas House of Representatives.
After November, when Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama will have led the national Democrats to their Waterloo, the Democrats will be in the unenviable position of having had all the levers of power and demonstrated that they can’t be trusted with any of them. They will be headed by a man who overpromised to his left flank while betraying the center, and will have shown that all of his gauzy hope and change rhetoric was a false front. Blue Dogs like Greg Windham will have to either do what he did — resign — or fight to reclaim their party from its left-wing fringe. Thus, Windham’s move this week may signal a post-November war for the soul and direction of what’s left of the Democratic Party. It’s either that, or write off states like Texas for years and years to come.