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Pruneda, Morris encourage supporters to be respectful amid post-primary division within Democrats

Pruneda, Morris encourage supporters to be respectful amid post-primary division within Democrats

Pruneda, Morris encourage supporters to be respectful amid post-primary division within Democrats
March 21
15:04 2018

Democrats had their highest voter turnout in more than 20 years in the 2018 Texas primaries but Republicans still came out ahead. Democrats had almost 1 million votes while Republicans saw 1.5 million, according to the Texas Tribune.

Denton Democrats saw a similar pattern, but some party members say division and negativity entered the party after primary election results.

“After the primary election there was a lot of division, and I’m ready to move forward,” political science senior Mia Muric said.

The election saw Democrat Beto O’Rourke beat his opponents to head toward a faceoff against Ted Cruz for a U.S. Senate seat. The gubernatorial race between Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houston businessman Andrew White resulted in a runoff.

Locally, Angie Cadena won the Democratic party chair seat with 75 percent of the vote. President of UNT democrats Jordan Villarreal said that was an “astronomical” number for Cadena.

Some of the more contested races involved those around the UNT area. Linsey Fagan won against Will Fisher in the Congressional District TX-26 race while Andrew Morris and Mat Pruneda are headed to a runoff for Texas House District 64.

“I was kind of shocked for the congressional results,” Villarreal said. “I thought it was going another way. I also didn’t expect to go to a runoff for the Texas house district race. I did not see that as one of the possibilities. That surprised me.”

Villarreal and Muric support both candidates in the Texas House 64 runoff. Morris and Pruneda have similar solutions to many legislative issues.

“I think they are both really great candidates and really great people,” Muric said.

Villarreal agreed but said he thinks Pruneda is more passionate and has a better fighting style. Either way, Villarreal said he thinks this race has the best chance for a democratic win.

Both of the candidates met to discuss the “increase in negativity, assertions, accusations and innuendo in the recent weeks,” according to a post on the candidates’ respective Facebook pages.

The post called for positive messaging for both campaigns. It also urged people to let the candidates know privately if they see anything counter to the post.

“Together, we want all our campaign staff, supporters and volunteers to work for our respective campaigns rather than against someone else’s: we want campaigns built on positive messaging that seeks to help all our constituents,” the post stated.

It ended by saying the only opponent that matters is Lynn Stucky, the Republican incumbent for District 64.

Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, professor and chair of the political science department at UNT, says the Denton Democratic candidates have no chance against their Republican opponents. The Democrats can, though, build momentum for a possible win in 2020. 

Eshbaugh-Soha says Morris and Pruneda’s message is a long-term strategy to help engage Democratic voters in the future.

“It’s not about tearing each other down, it’s not about having a fight related to a victory that is unlikely,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “It’s really a long term strategy and I think  it can only help to have a positive forward-thinking message as a way to demonstrate an alternative, engage people and have a substantive discussion.”

The TX-26 results brought some disagreements among the party. Muric cited a debate where Fagan said lawyers are corrupt. Muric says Fagan was implying that Fisher, who is an attorney from Flower Mound, is corrupt.

“There was a lot of division over that because you are calling another Democratic candidate corrupt,” Muric said.

Fagan said she was making the point that everyday citizens should take office.

Muric said she wished the message was presented in a more articulate way. She also said she thought Fisher had a better chance of beating Michael Burgess in the general election.

“I think Linsey is going to have a hard time with the GOP strategies that are out there,” Muric said.

Muric said she will still support Fagan and that she thinks Fagan could have a chance when the November election comes around.

Villarreal said Fisher supporters have to find new avenues to express their passions. It might not be through Fagan’s campaign but through other local democratic races. Villarreal is optimistic about Fagan.

“I think Linsey Fagan will do a phenomenal job as a candidate for TX-26,” Villarreal said. “Even as someone who did not vote for her in the primary, I am looking forward to voting for her in the general. She is someone who is passionate, unapologetic progressive and a voice for change.”

When asked about division and infighting among the democratic party, Villarreal chuckled and said it is relatively small. He said he’s more impressed by the growth of Denton’s democratic party, saying it was almost nonexistent a few years ago.

“A lot of progress needs to be made but we can’t oversimplify the fact that a lot of progress has been made within the Denton County Democratic Party.”

Eshbaugh-Soha says it is natural to have tension amongst political parties. Some groups try to send the message that they are the face of the democratic party and they are the reason the party will win, Eshbaugh says.

“In the primary especially we tend to see negative ads because there is really no difference in policy so you attack the other person to try to win,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “That’s not necessarily a good strategy for a party that is trying to build and motivate the electorate to support them over the long term”

Muric said the party is in a transition period and wants more accountability for party members. She said precinct chairs do not show up to meetings and party officers do not know Robert’s Rules.

Muric said there are a lot of organizational issues within the party but that is a learning curve that can be overcome.

“I don’t really see the massive division that some people are saying,” Villarreal said. “I think its symbolic on some ends. People want to see the Democratic Party divided but for the most part, we are ready to go into November with a great slate of candidates and a vision for a progressive future for Texas.”

The runoff elections will be held on May 22 and the general midterm election is on November 6.

Featured Image: Mat Pruneda, left, and Andrew Morris, right, shake hands after a debate on Jan. 25. Both are democratic candidates for Texas House District 64, a race which is going to a runoff election. Julian Esparza

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Devin Rardin

Devin Rardin

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1 Comment

  1. United We Stand
    United We Stand March 21, 21:12

    Thank you Andrew and Mat!

    Reply to this comment

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