Our Way-Too-Overeager 2021 Democratic Gubernatorial Draft
In this week’s blog, we conducted a draft for the 2021 Texas Democratic Gubernatorial Primary. The transcript below has been lightly edited for readability. The draft was conducted the day after Beto O’Rourke’s announcement for governor.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Welcome to the first annual A More Perfect Texas Gubernatorial draft!
Julian Delphiki II: Howdy
Jasper Yarborough: It's a new tradition!
Macedonio Medina: So what’s the criteria? Who would be the best governor? Who has the best possibility to win? Combination?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I think our readers will care about who has the best chance to win given Democrats have been years out of power.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Tons of potentially good governors on policy who can't make it to the chair.
Jasper Yarborough: so electability it is!
Macedonio Medina: Ok, so to hell with who would be a good governor?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I meannnnn
Julian Delphiki II: I’d be a great governor y'all
Macedonio Medina: Being a good governor only matters in the draft insofar as it would help their electability?
Jerry Anson Jones: but we can take into account who we already have on our bench if we’re trying hedge our bets?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: The real draft was the friends we made along the way :).
Birgitte_Nirenberg: You're up Macedonio
Macedonio Medina: Ok, so my understanding is that we’re trying to pick based on only electability. So here it goes
Macedonio Medina: First pick…
Macedonio Medina : Joe Strauss, San Antonio TX
Jasper Yarborough: shocker
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Gutsy pick
Jerry Anson Jones: bold
Jasper Yarborough: hometown play?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I bet Delphiki wanted him.
Macedonio Medina: The guy who used to be the firewall between crazy Republican ideas and the people.
Macedonio Medina: He’s moderate enough
Jasper Yarborough: he's got moderate appeal written all over him
Julian Delphiki II: Always bummed me out to learn he eats bacon
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Ohhh first Jewish Texas Governor?!
Macedonio Medina: And my assumption is that not a single Democrat has a better chance of beating Abbott
Julian Delphiki II: RIP Kinky Friedman for Gov
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Zombie Ann Richards
Jasper Yarborough: Chris bell should've dropped out
Macedonio Medina Is that true? There’s never been a Jewish gov in Texas?
Julian Delphiki II: Unless it was a secret Jewish governor.
Julian Delphiki II: With their secret space lasers* (Editor’s note: this is a joke from Julian Delphiki II in response to this incident)
Macedonio Medina:Holy shit. Well my pick is for history.
Julian Delphiki II: I’m next, First pick: Gregg Popovich
Jerry Anson Jones: damn you
Macedonio Medina: Woah!!!
Macedonio Medina: Another from San Antonio!
Macedonio Medina: Also, military
Julian Delphiki II I don’t know much about him personally, but every time I hear him say something, he seems reasonable and old-times “common sense”-y
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I think he’ll be seen by the Texas electorate as “too woke.”
Macedonio Medina: He’s the best coach in American sports history
Julian Delphiki II: And people love him as a coach
Macedonio Medina: woke + military. That can work
Julian Delphiki II: Agreed
Jerry Anson Jones: agreed
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Someone ask the current Joint Chief how that works
Julian Delphiki II: Also who doesn’t love the Spurs
Jasper Yarborough: cross-generational appeal
Jerry Anson Jones: but not tied to the admin in any way
Macedonio Medina: Brilliant strategist
Julian Delphiki II: Strong old guy effect
Jerry Anson Jones: He could have Tim Duncan as a surrogate
Macedonio Medina: So the first two picks have never held office as a Dem
Jerry Anson Jones: That might be the secret sauce here
Julian Delphiki II: Great for branding
Macedonio Medina: What does that say about Dem politicians in TX?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: We clearly don't have that much faith in the party
Jerry Anson Jones: or just think the brand is toxic
Jasper Yarborough: and the third pick follows that pattern. Going with Beyoncé Knowles!
Jerry Anson Jones: slay
Julian Delphiki II: Love it
Jasper Yarborough: She locks in the Houston metro area, activates younger voters, and the Beyhive.
Jerry Anson Jones: She knows how to get voters in formation 😂
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Houston IS one of the top 3 major metro areas that has had a lower Dem margin AND turnout compared to DFW and Austin
Macedonio Medina: So puro celebrities?
Jasper Yarborough: she can hire policy wonks to work with her
Macedonio Medina: I’ll be the only one with a draftee with government experience in the first round...
Jasper Yarborough: Her earned media coverage would be nonstop
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Beyonce actually has gotten decently involved with policy compared to other celebrities, writing a letter to the Kentucky Attorney General about the death of Breanna Taylor and also sponsoring affordable housing in Houston.
Macedonio Medina: I’m a little salty that she put her support behind Beto literally the day of the election one hour before polls closed instead of many months ahead of time in 2018
Julian Delphiki II: #Calculated
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I'm going with Matthew McConaughey
Macedonio Medina: If our readers are picking the winner between us five, I’m winning easily
Birgitte_Nirenberg: His rhetoric so far has infuriated some parts of the Democratic base, and he's cultivated a ton of right wing media. He also has millions of Twitter followers; he’s not seen as “woke”, and also seems to get how to transform a sense of “Texas nationalism” into a wider majority supported by voters. In short, he has a media platform and a seeming sense of how to articulate center to center left policies for the median or swing Texas voter.
Jasper Yarborough: and those Lincoln commercials are iconic
Jerry Anson Jones: thank you everyone for avoiding the requisite alright alright alright response
Macedonio Medina: So we’re copying the Republicans with how to pick our primary winner? Go with a celebrity?
Jasper Yarborough: gotta pick a celebrity to overwhelm the (non-existent to negative in Texas) Dem brand!
Jerry Anson Jones: Agreed with Jasper Yarborough
Julian Delphiki II: Clearly we are converging on that solution
Jerry Anson Jones: A “generic Democrat” will be a loser
Julian Delphiki II: Agreed
Jasper Yarborough: yep
Macedonio Medina: That’s why I went with Strauss
Jerry Anson Jones: I don’t think that being a Dem is necessarily toxic, but if you can’t differentiate from the national brand, you’re screwed
Macedonio Medina: #disappointedInYall
Jerry Anson Jones: soooo since Pop and Matt are taken… I’ll just take Mark Cuban
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Some projection there.
Julian Delphiki II: Well done
Macedonio Medina: You people are just trying to make me upset
Jasper Yarborough: Cuban’s ability to self-fund could also make the race more competitive as he would be a self-funder.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Wow, so not a single Dem politician in the first round and Beto literally launched yesterday…(Editor’s note, at the time of this draft, Beto had just announced)
Jerry Anson Jones: So since it’s a snake draft, I get the next choice, which influenced my decision there as I knew I had two picks.
Jerry Anson Jones: But I just want to flag that tons of everyday Americans watch Shark Tank, and this allows him to differentiate beyond the generic Dem brand.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Cuban also got involved in 2016 when he endorsed Hillary and needled Trump.
Jerry Anson Jones: Exactly. So people will be familiar with Cuban in a position of authority and trust that he’s smart and knows how to run things efficiently.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: And DFW is actually a big potential base for funders and voters, as opposed to El Paso.
Jerry Anson Jones: See? Cuban’s a good choice
Macedonio Medina: Ugh
Jerry Anson Jones: but speaking of El Paso, my next pick is Beto
Julian Delphiki II: A whole generation of Dems, disillusioned with the party...
Julian Delphiki II: Oh wow, nice save there Jerry Anson Jones
Macedonio Medina: Solid pick
Jerry Anson Jones: I mainly went with Cuban first to piss off Macedonio
Macedonio Medina: Beto would have been my next pick. Best fundraiser in Texas political history
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Also, the second best fundraiser in Senate History right?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Or maybe 3rd after Georgia.
Jerry Anson Jones: but yeah. Beto was incredible at building his own brand separate from the party
Macedonio Medina: He raised more money in hours than Valdez did for her entire campaign!
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Poor Valdez didn't even make the draft list of potential picks I noticed.
Jerry Anson Jones: I didn’t pick him first round because now I fear his brand is too tainted with loser
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Julian Delphiki II: Oh interesting
Macedonio Medina: Good speaker
Jerry Anson Jones: Meh choice
Julian Delphiki II: I’m with Jerry Anson Jones on this one
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Mayor of Houston, came from poverty, knows how to fundraise, took Houston through Harvey and COVID. He has Houston as a base, experience, and a potentially larger base with Black voters across the state.
Macedonio Medina: I happen to like him. But not super popular in Houston.
Julian Delphiki II: But Turner just had a dumb fight around affordable housing this month
Julian Delphiki II: And if I remember from following #txlege, there are more skeletons there
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Not a "clean" record for sure.
Macedonio Medina: You could do much worse
Jasper Yarborough: Going with Colin Allred
Jerry Anson Jones: strong choice
Julian Delphiki II: Nice
Julian Delphiki II: NFL!
Jasper Yarborough: DFW base, former NFL player, moderate profile, POC rep with a potential base of Black voters across the state.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Good fundraiser who knows how to talk to swing voters.
Jasper Yarborough: and he beat a GOP incumbent in 2018
Jerry Anson Jones: Has national attention
Jerry Anson Jones: without having the squad variety of national attention, which while useful, isn’t always useful for Texas
Julian Delphiki II: I think I’m next
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I’m noticing that only one pick has been a woman so far.
Julian Delphiki II: And I’m going to start a new trend and say Armando “Mando” Martinez, a State House member from the Valley
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I'm gonna start another trend and say who?
Julian Delphiki II: First elected in 2004, and famously, “On January 1, , Martinez was seriously wounded in the head by a stray bullet during a New Year's celebration, a case of celebratory gunfire."
Birgitte_Nirenberg: oh wow
Julian Delphiki II: They were all shooting guns in the air, so no 2nd amendment problems there
Jasper Yarborough: nice
Macedonio Medina: Texas
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Another thing I noticed, this is the first Latino pick in a probably now plurality Latino state given the census showed that Anglos and Latinos were basically both around 39%
Macedonio Medina: I’ll pick the second Latino in just a moment
Jasper Yarborough: Julian?
Macedonio Medina: Mike
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Who Mike Jones?
Jasper Yarborough: Jordan?
Macedonio Medina: Mike Villarreal, San Antonio
Jerry Anson Jones: Tell me more
Birgitte_Nirenberg: We can save Jordan for the NC Governor draft.
Macedonio Medina: Former congressman, Harvard Kennedy School alum, Texas A&M Aggie, economic expertise. Current job is as an educational researcher in UTSA. Recently got is PhD in Education Policy in UT
Jasper Yarborough: impressive
Macedonio Medina: Smart as hell and should sell himself as an econ guy
Julian Delphiki II: As an econ guy myself, I can appreciate that
Macedonio Medina: Anyway, my first pick in the third round beat a Republican incumbent in 2018
Jasper Yarborough: Lizziementum?
Macedonio Medina: Jon Rosenthal, Houston TX. Beat a long standing incumbent too. Super likable!
Julian Delphiki II: That was a tight race no?
Macedonio Medina: Yeah
Birgitte_Nirenberg: within like 300?
Julian Delphiki II: Those West Harris County seats are the edge of what’s winnable in Texas
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Barely squeaked by in 2020
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I think he would be seen as too progressive.
Macedonio Medina: I like the idea of picking someone who beat a Republican incumbent.
Julian Delphiki II: You could actually see it - Dem State House challengers dominated in Dallas County, did alright in Central Texas, and then barely squeaked by in Harris
Jerry Anson Jones: Do we think any of the State House Dems have enough of a profile to overcome the problem of a weak generic Dem problem we ID’d?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I don't personally think so. Harris county is the big weak point for Dem state wide plans. There aren’t enough
Julian Delphiki II: Alright - think it’s back to me again, and I’m going to go back on trend to our celebrities with Eva Longoria. I know she’s gotten all partisan but so many people (myself included) watched Desperate Housewives (among other things she’s done). She’s also a huge farmworker advocate.
Julian Delphiki II: And it never hurts to be good looking (Ask Obama)
Julian Delphiki II: Also, Jasper Yarborough is next
Jasper Yarborough: Lina Hidalgo
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Stole my next pick! Damn it
Macedonio Medina: Good pick
Jerry Anson Jones: ugh thief
Birgitte_Nirenberg: What's the case?
Jasper Yarborough: Rising star, maybe too soon but she's charismatic and has a base
Julian Delphiki II: You gotta pick ‘em up fast
Macedonio Medina: And she’s not as hated as more well-known Dem politicians (Beto)
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Another observation; besides McConaughey, no Austin politicians.
Jasper Yarborough: Austin Mayor Adler isn't even on the board
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I think he made the draft list
Birgitte_Nirenberg: but yes the only one
Jerry Anson Jones: Can we add people to the draft list?
Macedonio Medina: I think so
Julian Delphiki II: I think 50% of Austin’s population has a BA
Julian Delphiki II: The figure is ~20% statewide in TX
Jasper Yarborough: wow
Jasper Yarborough: it really is an outlier
Julian Delphiki II: You can’t get stuck in the BA bubble
Jerry Anson Jones: It’s a liability
Birgitte_Nirenberg: So I don't think he'd win, but I do think given my previous theses, having some name recognition statewide, making history, and access to $$$
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Former Mayor Julian Castro.
Jerry Anson Jones: not a bad pick
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I think he could rally the base; but he would have to work hard to not be seen as the super far left candidate for suburbanites, which is weird because he used to be the super centrist person who shifted to the far left!
Jerry Anson Jones: but he wouldn’t win
Macedonio Medina: If he can’t make an event he can just send his brother…
Julian Delphiki II: Bazinga
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Like Beto, Julian went extremely left in the 2020 Presidential race.
Jasper Yarborough: Having a twin would help with the 254 counties
Jerry Anson Jones: lol
Macedonio Medina: Super unfair shot [from Julian] at Beto during the 2020 Presidential primary
Macedonio Medina: Still bitter
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Julian Castro's comment about Biden is literally why he was exiled from the Biden admin
Macedonio Medina: And now he’s cheerleading Beto in the governor’s race
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I feel like Julian Castro used to have a good political radar, and then got too stuck caring about what Twitter and left media thought.
Macedonio Medina: Yeah…
Julian Delphiki II: That’s what happens when you need to go from Mayor to POTUS though
Birgitte_Nirenberg: And doesn't want to fight.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: His not running in 2018 was a big mistake
Jerry Anson Jones: ok. with my third pick, I’m going with… Veronica Escobar
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Oooh, very charismatic
Jerry Anson Jones: If 2022 is going to be all border talk all the time, I think it’s useful to have a border candidate, and she's effective on camera which matters in a large state. And she is charismatic. But admittedly probably too far left.
Jasper Yarborough: good soundbites
Macedonio Medina: I don’t think voters distinguish between far left and centrist. Republicans will brand everyone as far left, so I’m not sure how much being left vs center matters...Far left is defined by the Republicans as whoever the Democrat is
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Fair, but voters KNOW what they think is too far left vs. far right.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: She doesn't have a good base though for the rest of Texas. El Paso doesn't have the $ or numbers.
Jerry Anson Jones: yeah. But Beto managed it!
Jerry Anson Jones: I don’t think lightning strikes twice though. I recognize her flaws
Birgitte_Nirenberg: and she'd have Beto boosting her to be fair.
Jerry Anson Jones: and with my fourth pick, I’m going off list
Jerry Anson Jones: San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg
Birgitte_Nirenberg: he's on the list :)
Julian Delphiki II: Nice. I like him a lot
Jerry Anson Jones: as Julian mentioned, looks matter
Jerry Anson Jones: and he is an attractive man.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Also potentially the first Asian American too right?
Julian Delphiki II: He’s also got this “only in America is my story possible" story
Macedonio Medina: Lots of San Antonio on this list!
Julian Delphiki II: He would also be first Jewish Gov
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Lots of firsts.
Jerry Anson Jones: and he’s also jacked
Julian Delphiki II: Wait, how do we know that?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Now you've got me curious
Jerry Anson Jones: he can command some bro respect
Jerry Anson Jones: (for those who were wondering about Nirenberg’s fitness, there’s literally an entire article about it)
Julian Delphiki II: Oh man, it’s like when Paul Ryan did P90X
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Chris Hollins, Left but not too left, voting rights is a super passionate issue for Dem base, did finance for Texas Dems so has connections to the overall donor base, has national media profile
Jerry Anson Jones: I was considering him for my fourth
Julian Delphiki II: I was thinking of Nirenberg and Collins, but I was a little concerned my BA bias was showing
Jasper Yarborough: This draft is about electability so I'm going for a pick with a massive platform, appeal to non-traditional voters, and the ability to persuade young men to do just about anything … even eat elk meat
Jasper Yarborough: A recent Texan, Mr. Joe Rogan
Julian Delphiki II: Nice pick there
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I was thinking of Rogan
Macedonio Medina: Bernie guy...
Julian Delphiki II: I don’t agree with everything Rogan says, but he’s definitely not captured by Dem or Rep special interests
Birgitte_Nirenberg: but I think both suburban women, who are the marginal and decisive voters in TX would understandably lose it with him
Birgitte_Nirenberg: and there would be a risk a ton of the Dem base would not show up.
Julian Delphiki II: Negative partisanship is a helluva drug...
Julian Delphiki II: As a #txlege guy, I’m going to finish my picks with Nicole Collier; she’s a State Rep from Tarrant County, but also UH Cougar and Aggie alum
Jasper Yarborough: strong pick
Julian Delphiki II: Personal injury attorney
Macedonio Medina: Yup
Jasper Yarborough: good speaker
Julian Delphiki II: Great speaker
Jerry Anson Jones: who doesn’t love a personal injury attorney?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Stands up for the little guy/gal.
Julian Delphiki II: Young and from a swing part of the state, also African-American woman, so would be another first
Macedonio Medina: Can you imagine Jim Adler running?
Jerry Anson Jones: oh my god y’all. McCarthy is still talking, it has been an hour
Macedonio Medina: Last pick
Macedonio Medina: This will catch you off guard but I have a story to tell that shows how she has appeal outside her base
Macedonio Medina: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, Houston TX
Julian Delphiki II: I’m listening
Macedonio Medina: So I was block walking for her in 2016, and I came across a White dude with a shirt on that said something like “Ban idiots, not guns.” This dude ranted to me about how the Dems were evil and this and that, and he saw I had literature for Sylvia, and his tone changed, was like, “Sylvia, she’s great! Always takes care of us!”
Birgitte_Nirenberg: really good constituent services?
Julian Delphiki II: Solid
Macedonio Medina: I know it’s one voter, but there are definitely more like him
Jasper Yarborough: makes sense
Julian Delphiki II: It’s idiosyncratic voters like that that win elections
Birgitte_Nirenberg: She unfortunately saw almost a 7-8% loss in margin in 2020
Macedonio Medina: She’s very rational
Jasper Yarborough: she's warm in person too and good at retail politics
Jerry Anson Jones: for a fourth pick it makes sense!
Jerry Anson Jones: So now we’re going to rate each other’s benches?
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Yes, you can't pick yourself though :) I know this group of Type A's...
Jasper Yarborough: the Garcia story sold me lol
Julian Delphiki II: Birgitte - I couldn’t get past your Turner/Castro picks
Birgitte_Nirenberg: lol, I guess I'm very old school. Donor base, name recognition, experience.
Julian Delphiki II: Candidly very establishment picks
Julian Delphiki II: A little surprising from you
Jerry Anson Jones: agreed.
Julian Delphiki II: I’m the #Neoliberalshill in this group
Birgitte_Nirenberg: I think they're politicians who have experience in winning.
Jerry Anson Jones: they have all of those because they’re at the end of their political careers…
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Turner is DEFINITELY running again for something
Julian Delphiki II: I don’t know - he’s getting up there in age
Jerry Anson Jones: for a second, I thought you were talking about me Julian
Julian Delphiki II: Oh I guess not that old - 67
Birgitte_Nirenberg: And with the votes averaged, our annual winner is Jerry Anson Jones!
Birgitte_Nirenberg: And now we leave it to you reader! Here's a Google Form link, we would love your rating on the best bench for Gubernatorial pick.
Birgitte_Nirenberg: And Jerry Anson Jones beat us all while watching Kevin McCarthy speak for an hour.
Jerry Anson Jones: AS THE WINNER: My strategy was camera-ready, non-generic Dems. In order of funding ability
Birgitte_Nirenberg: Imagine what he could do if he didn't have his full brainpower inhibited by McCarthy.
Jasper Yarborough: lol
Jerry Anson Jones: imagine what McCarthy could do with brainpower
Macedonio Medina: Este pinche güey
Birgitte_Nirenberg: McCarthy STILL talking!?
Jerry Anson Jones: Nearing 2 hours