Issues of race and campaign strategy cause disagreement at Dallas Democratic Chair Forum

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The three candidates for Dallas County Democratic Party Chair discussed a variety of issues at the Nov. 14 forum (Photo Credit: Joe Farkus/NDG)

By Joe Farkus, NDG Contributing Writer

With campaign season already underway, the three candidates for Dallas County Democratic Party (DCDP) Chair met at a forum hosted by the Dallas Stonewall Democrats and Dallas County Young Democrats (DCYD) at the CWA Hall Tuesday, Nov. 14. Current Chair Carol Donovan, elected in 2015, is in a fight against attorney Chris Hamilton and Lancaster-native Carolyn Ann Morris.

Issues discussed at the forum included the removal of the straight ticket option on election ballots (starting in the 2020 elections), how each candidate would deal with sexual assault and harassment within the party, opportunities for transgender Democrats, and the possibility of winning back the District Attorney’s (DA) office.

“We have an African American female Republican DA,” said Hamilton. “There are racial divisions in our party that need to be addressed. People are disillusioned in the African American community with the Democratic Party. They feel like we show up, ask for their vote, but not deliver.”

Donovan, who before serving as Chair ran unsuccessfully for Texas House District 107 and served as a precinct chair, dismissed claims of racial divisions among Dallas Democrats, pointing to personality rather than racial differences and urging voters to vote straight-ticket Democrat in next year’s election to secure a victory in the race for Dallas County DA.

“I live in the south of Dallas,” Morris, the only African American candidate in the race, told the largely white audience during a discussion about the need for diversity and tolerance in the party. “Some of you all probably have never went to the south of Dallas other than driving through to go to Waco.”

Morris has served as a DCDP precinct chair and as a Lancaster ISD school board member. She also founded the Lancaster NAACP. She currently serves as the head of a nonprofit she created, Parent2Parent Connection Advocacy, Inc. which helps parents whose children have disabilities with school.

Hamilton, who is a civil justice attorney and self-described “progressive activist”, clashed with Donovan over his strategy to expand the party’s electoral success beyond what she has attempted to accomplish thus far.

“I believe we can win every seat in Dallas County,” said Hamilton. “We have a court of appeals, that sits in Dallas…that is entirely held by Republicans and is the worst court of appeals in this state on issues for working people and criminal justice issues.”

“We can win back the Court of Appeals with just the votes that we have in Dallas County,” Hamilton continued. “There are five other counties, but if we have a five percent increase in countywide turnout – we will win every seat on that court of appeals.”

“Do the math,” Donovan later responded, “those other [counties] are going to have to get a little more blue before we can successfully put all of our candidates in the Court of Appeals.”

Donovan and Hamilton continued to clash over whether Hamilton’s plan to grow the number of elected Democrats is realistic or not, while Morris refused to engage in the heated debate and continued to make her case as the candidate with the experience and background to lead the party into the future.

With the election of DCDP Chair not until Mar. 6, 2018, many more forums and debates are expected to be scheduled.

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