Daily Archives: 04/07/2009

How The Crash Will Reshape America (Richard Florida)

(Community Matters) from the March ’09 Atlantic 

The crash of 2008 continues to reverberate loudly nationwide—destroying jobs, bankrupting businesses, and displacing homeowners. But already, it has damaged some places much more severely than others. On the other side of the crisis, America’s economic landscape will look very different than it does today. What fate will the coming years hold for New York, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas? Will the suburbs be ineffably changed? Which cities and regions can come back strong? And which will never come back at all?

It’s a long piece, and I haven’t yet had a chance to finish.  I haven’t anticipated a reordering of global economic power, though have assumed we will not share.  And, I have great faith in the resilience of the American economy – definitely remember the cries for MCC and Sematech when we feared the Japanese economy was overtaking our own.  Nonetheless, sharing power wouldn’t be a bad thing.  And, I would definitely expect domestic realignments, Austin faring well if we’re ambitious and deliberate – thus my support for Brewster for mayor over another friend, Leffingwell.  The conversation gives context to Heather’s and Bijoy’s work mentioned in the post below.

New Frames for Austin

(Community Matters) Prompted by Michael Barnes in his Out & About, of course I had to follow up and find out what Leadership Austin honcho Heather McKissick and bootstrap evangelist Bijoy Goswami are up to.  I like what they are saying and where they are going. Following MB, I won’t break their story, though it is available on line.  

Senator Sherrod Brown

(Community Matters)  Enjoyed meeting Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) yesterday during his swing through Austin.  He’s a die hard progressive who won a tough race against an incumbent Republican in a state, politically, not too different from ours today.

We had a good conversation about challenges currently faced in Washington and about how progressives need to weigh in at the White House, ensuring that the President is persuaded by our ideas – his base ideas btw.  Others attending included Jim Martson, Margo Weisz, Tim McCabe, Frank Fernandez, Geronimo Rodriguez, Rebecca Lightsey, Paul Scott, Ken Gladish, John Hildreth, Tony Martinez, Sylvia Acevedo and Wyeth Wideman.  

Jack McDonald in Washington News

(Community Matters) story from today’s On The Hill:

On The Hill

Leading The News

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Dems gun for blue gains in red state
Posted: 04/06/09 08:03 AM [ET]
Facing a narrower playing field in 2010, Democrats see an opportunity deep in the heart of Texas.

Both national and Texas Democrats are excited about Jack McDonald, a Texas businessman who appears poised to take on Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) next year.

McDonald got national Democrats’ attention last week when he announced he raised $309,000 in five weeks, even though he has yet to officially announce he is running. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quickly sought to capitalize McDonald’s early success, announcing that it plans to air radio ads in McCaul’s district this week that criticize the congressman for not supporting President Obama’s economic stimulus package.

And Texas Democrats are ready to pounce on a district that they believe is trending blue. “It’s the most Democratic of all the Texas districts that is not already held by a Democrat,” said one party insider.

McCaul was first elected to his 10th District seat in 2004. He has since won re-election fairly easily, garnering 54 percent of the vote or more in 2006 and 2008. His spokesman, Mike Rosen, declined to comment on McDonald’s challenge, saying only that McCaul “is not going to talk about politics right now. He’s focused on the economy.”

Rosen did dismiss speculation that McCaul is considering running for Texas Attorney General next year instead of defending his seat. “I can tell you definitively that he’s running for re-election,” Rosen said.

In an interview, McDonald focused on his personal story. One of seven children, he grew up in a working-class household. He was the first to go to college in his family and he went on to become a lawyer and an entrepreneur. He is currently the CEO of an information technology company and a vice chairman of the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ve really been blessed,” he said, when asked why he’s running. “I think it’s time to give back. I think more people with real-world experience need to get involved in government.”

National Democrats say McDonald’s story and fundraising, if he can keep it up, will pose problems for McCaul. One national Democrat called McDonald’s first-quarter haul “stunning.”

After picking up 54 seats in the past two cycles, Democrats are looking at a 2010 cycle with a much smaller playing field for pickups, so districts like McCaul’s, which were previously stretches for Democrats, could become top targets. And Democrats see some trends in McCaul’s district that indicate they could have a shot at it next year.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain (Ariz.) performed significantly worse in the district than President George W. Bush did in 2000 and 2004. McCain won 55 percent in the district last year while Bush carried 62 percent of the vote in 2004 and 67 percent in 2000.

McCaul, who was moderately targeted by the DCCC last year, won with almost 54 percent, less than McCain.

Democrats also point to other trends in McCaul’s district, which spans from the outskirts of Austin in Travis County southeast to Harris County, near Houston. The majority of the district’s population lies around those cities, with the Austin area being more Democratic-leaning and the Houston area more Republican. Democrats say voters outside Houston tend not to turn out in non-presidential years, which would benefit McDonald. Democrats also tout recent gains in Harris’s county-wide elections.

“The demographics are changing,” said Boyd Richie, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. “The district is becoming really similar to those that we have competed in and have had some success in.”

Texas Republicans, however, scoffed at the notion that McCaul is vulnerable or that Democrats could find success in the district. Eric Opiela, the executive director of the Texas GOP, said McCaul’s seat isn’t one his party expects to have to expend many resources to defend next year. McCaul, he said, has proven to be a savvy politician.

“I’m not worrying every day about how Michael McCaul is going to do,” he said. “I am sure Jack McDonald will be a formidable opponent. However, Michael McCaul had just as recently as this past year gone up against a formidable opponent and still won. I expect the same will happen in 2010.”

Texas Republicans also highlighted positions McDonald has already taken that they said were conservative. McDonald has a national debt counter on his campaign website, something that’s common for deficit hawks, and touts fiscal responsibility and job creation. He also highlights his commitment to family values on the website.

That positioning, the GOP sources said, shows how Republican the district really is and why it will be hard for someone without an “R” next to his or her name to win there.

Asked about those stances, McDonald said he is comfortable with the criticism because he sees himself as a post-partisan politician. His contributions came from donors across party lines, he said, a testament to his ability to appeal to Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans.

“If there is one thing that we’ve heard over and over again it’s that people don’t want to focus on party labels,” McDonald said. “They want to focus on getting people in Washington that have real-world experience.”

Richie, the party chairman, added that he believes McDonald’s business background will help him poach voters from McCaul, especially if the economy continues to be the top issue for voters.

“I think he can appeal not only to the progressive wing of our party,” he said, “but also to moderate Republicans because he’s got a really good track record with his business accomplishments and civic activity.”