Gilberto Hinojosa was overwhelmingly chosen to lead the Party in the predominantly Republican state.
By Chris Tomlinson, The Associated Press
-- Texas Democrats elected the first Hispanic to the state chairman's
position Saturday, a move indicating that the party aims to play a
greater role in the Republican-dominated state.
On the final day
of the state convention in Houston, delegates overwhelmingly chose
Gilberto Hinojosa to lead the party for the next two years. Hinojosa is a
former judge, county party leader and member of the Democratic National
Committee. He is replacing Boyd Richie, who has led the party since
Fort Worth Democrat Wendy Davis, a state senator whose
district is considered vulnerable, was among the other party leaders who
addressed the convention Saturday. She challenged delegates to spread
the word that big changes are needed in Austin.
"The agenda of those in control of the Texas Capitol today is one without vision," Davis declared.
are not concerned with the Texas of tomorrow -- whether our children
are prepared for college, whether our workforce is healthy, whether our
young people are equipped to compete for jobs, or whether employers will
stay in Texas or new employers will even want to bring jobs to Texas.
for those in charge in Austin, theirs is an agenda driven by
ideological extremists who want to pull the ladder of opportunity and
prosperity up behind them," she added.
"Theirs is an agenda that will bring this great state to its knees."
a native of Mission in South Texas, takes over a party that has not won
a statewide election since 1994 and does not control either chamber of
the Legislature. But the state's evolving demographics favor Democrats,
with non-Hispanic whites now making up less than 50 percent of the
In the 2010 election, more than 85 percent of minorities voted Democratic.
as a party need to realize that there are more of us than there are of
them," Hinojosa said. "We believe that everyone in this great state
deserves an equal chance ... and we can only do that if we win
Hinojosa, 59, said Democrats need to believe that
they can win elections and stop allowing Republicans to define them as
unpatriotic. He said Republicans were the ones who carried out
un-American policies by cutting funding for public education and women's
healthcare and by opposing civil-rights protections for all sexual
Fort Worth state Rep.
Marc Veasey, who is in a runoff for a Democratic nomination to Congress,
welcomed Hinojosa as someone who has experience working at the national
level and organizing the grass roots of the party.
is historic and besides that, Gilberto is a good guy," Veasey said. "He
is a coalition builder; he gets along with a broad group of people."
Hinojosa has promised to change the math on Texas elections.
the May 29 primaries, twice as many Republicans cast ballots as
Democrats, but, overall, fewer than 20 percent of registered voters
showed up. Turnout among Texas Hispanics has never matched that in other
states with significant Latino populations.
"There is no
independent issue out there that has caused this to happen," Hinojosa
said. "They are not going to go out and vote for anybody if they are not
engaged, no matter how dynamic of a leader you've got running. ... As a
party, we have to engage them and offer strong candidates."
was the first in his family to attend college, at the University of
Texas-Pan American, and graduated from Georgetown University Law School.
Democrats also approved a platform that for the first time explicitly
calls for equal marriage rights. Same-sex marriage is banned by a state
Earlier in the convention, Democrats
representing Texas in Congress spoke and tried to rally the party base
ahead of the November elections.
Rep. Al Green of Houston called
for equal rights based on sexual orientation, a $10-an-hour minimum wage
and equal pay for women.
Staff writer John Gravois contributed to this report.