Good morning Austin:
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, Garry Brown of Austin announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018.
It was a simple affair on Brown’s front lawn in Milwood. A podium. About 30 folding chairs and as many people.
Here’s the whole show.
But first, about that game last night.
This, below, clearly seemed, in retrospect to be the karmic turning point of the game, though when it happened, it seemed both comical and even ugly, with the potential to become even uglier.
From the Houston Chronicle:
When FOX cameras caught an Astros fan ripping a Dodgers home run ball out of another’s fan hands and throwing it back onto the field, it seemed for sure there would be a fight in the stands — or at the very least two people who wouldn’t be talking to each other for a long time.
Yeah. I kept wanting the cameras to check back in on them.
Instead, just an inning later, they were laughing about it.
It helps that Sarah Head and Kirk Head are in-laws and that Sarah has a sense of humor.
Well, that explains why the two men looked very much alike even if they were temperamentally different and apparently had a different code of baseball, or in-law, ethics.
When Yasiel Puig hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning that cut the Astros’ Game 5 lead to 12-11, Sarah wound up with the ball. She briefly celebrated her prize. Very briefly. Kirk reached around his brother and snatched the ball out of Sarah’s hands and threw it back on the field.
It’s a Minute Maid Park tradition that all home runs from the visiting team get thrown back.
Sarah told the Chronicle she knew the tradition but would have liked to have thrown it back herself. But Kirk said the stakes were too high, and who knew how the baseball gods would view even a moment’s hesitation.
Kirk said he didn’t have the patience to wait on Sarah, especially with his Astros in the process of blowing a three-run lead.
“It’s bad karma to keep it,” Kirk said. “You’ve got to throw it back. I was just making sure she did.”
Back to Garry Brown’s announcement, which was a very homey affair.
Three friends introduced Brown.
First up was Angela Rodriguez-Mayers, who has been friends with Brown since their University of Texas days, where they were both involved with Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity.
Rodriguez-Mayers said that Brown was for a while president of the UT chapter and that “he kept a bunch of mostly immature but well-meaning and well-intentioned people focused on the important stuff, which was helping people.”
Next up was Eileen Ladd.
Ladd recalled the Robert Fulghum book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
“All I need to know about Garry Brown, I learned in pre-school,” said Ladd, noting that Brown had been her children’s pre-school teacher, where he earned her deepest trust and excelled at “teaching kids to play well with each other, put their toys away and behave.”
Last up as Kellie Sauls, who many years ago taught with Brown, and, she said, learned from him.
“From the first time I met Garry he was a force,” Sauls said. The children, “loved him, they listened to him, they respected him.”
Then came Brown.
“I know most you are here to see if I’m really going to do it,” he said to appreciative laughter.
Them he made his pitch:
Texas by its very name means friend. Unfortunately, Absent Abbott and his Republican faction of so-called leaders have made this state hostile to almost everyone. They hate children, people who are sick, women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and working and middle class families.
You can watch the video to hear the litany of Brown’s grievances, including the fact that the state’s leadership seemed, “so infatuated with who takes a leak in a bathroom.”
“This is just the tip of the iceberg, which by the way is melting faster and faster because they hate the Earth too,” Brown said.
“And this is the Texas Miracle we keep hearing about?” Brown said. “There is only one thing to call this: Bullshit.”
Absent Abbott is allowing this to happen while he is involved in a one-sided pissing contest with the state of California. Really? Just check his Twitter account.
He bashes California at least once a week and meanwhile California is like, “What’s this rain on my leg?”
Well- educated citizens don”t believe crazy ideas like some of those jack-asses you hear on television, in the state Legislature, or even in the White House.
Brown called for better funding education, Medicaid expansion and preserving local control.
Of Abbott, he said, “He dislikes Big Government when it involves the Fed, but he himself practices it eery day. And now he’s begging the Feds to send us money for the Harvey recovery work. This isn’t just irony, folks, it’s hypocritical bullcrap.”
“I didn’t make the decision to run for governor lightly,” Brown said.
Brown said he will keep his day job, that he can’t afford not to. He is a renter and he is also supporting his mother, sister and nephew.
“I moved them all in with me to take care of them,” he said.
Then he offered what I thought was his most arresting image.
“Texas GOP leaders have been in power so long they believe we all have Stockholm Syndrome.”
Stockholm Syndrome refers to, Feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.
From Business Insider, a quick explanation of the original of the name:
Forty years ago, a guy wearing “toy-store glasses,” blush, and a thick brown wig burst into a bank in Stockholm and took four employees hostage, according to an epic 1974 New Yorker article, titled “Bank Drama.” The captives bonded with him during the six-day standoff, at one point offering to leave the bank with him and his accomplice so their captors could flee unharmed.
Television stations broadcasted updates from the standoff day and night. Everybody in Sweden was captivated by the drama, and they were especially intrigued by the victims’ apparent sympathy and compliance with their captors.
Swedish psychiatrist Nils Bejerot later coined the term “Stockholm Syndrome” to describe so-called captor bonding.
Same deal in Dog Day Afternoon, about victims, and the broader public, identifying with Sonny, played by Al Pacino, who ties to rob a bank in Brooklyn to pay for his boyfriend’s sex change.
It may not be a perfect metaphor for the Republican takeover of Texas politics, but you get the idea, and to follow it to its logical conclusion, here from Max D. Gray at OneHowTo.com, How to Treat Stockholm Syndrome.
Gray offers seven “steps to follow. Here are the four that I think Brown should be most mindful of as he attempts to snap Texans out of their empathy with what he views as their political captors.
2. Do not insist. People with Stockholm syndrome fail to see the complexity of the situation. Do not try to convince them of what may happen or try to force them to change their mind. Just talk to them and calmly explain your point of view. You need to avoid pushing them further away from you in order to help them.’
3. Show them affection. Try to show your love and support. You must convey trust so that they do not see you as an enemy.
5. Keep calm. Often, this situation generates a feeling of helplessness. The important thing is to remain calm to avoid pushing the person away. Staying calm is the greatest help you can give. Be patient, they will listen to you if you convey trust and understanding.
7. Listen. If they feel they can trust you, they will talk about their situation. When this happens, you should control your feelings. Don’t show you’re angry or infuriated if the person with Stockholm syndrome defends or identifies with the abusers. Listen to them, and when you think it’s necessary, give your opinion. However, be careful about the way you do it and how you say it, so as to avoid them becoming defensive.
Brown offered another metaphor:
“Most of us know you must turn over the soil periodically to kept soil fertile. After twenty-plus years of Republican government. It’s time to turn over the soil.”
He finished on an optimistic note.
Now, I want you to imagine where you’ll be, Nov. 6, 2018, at about 11 p.m. at around the time that it is reported that Hell has frozen over and Texas has elected a Democratic governor.
It’s a pretty good feeling.
I need your support and ask that you help me make sure that Hell freezes over.
That was it.
I spoke to Brown afterward.
He was born in Corpus Christi, grew up mostly in Louisiana – in Gretna, just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, and Lafayette. He finished high school in McAllen. He went to UT and finished up with an English degree from UTSA.
He has lived most of the time since then – with three departures and returns – in Austin, most recently returning in 2006.
“I love this place,” he said.
He is executive assistant to Williamson County Commissioner Terry Cook, who last year became the first Democrat elected to the Commissioners Court since 1994, which is also the last year Texas Democrats elected anyone statewide.
Brown said Cook OK”d his running for governor while keeping his job, which, he said, he will continue to thoroughly execute.
I told her if she said, “no,” I wouldn’t be doing this but she understands why I’m doing this. And I promised her that, whatever was going on, I’d always be back for Tuesday morning Commissioners Court meetings.
Before that I was working for Constable Sally Hernandez I was community outreach director for her before she became sheriff. I love Sally.
Before that I worked for Commissioner Karen Huber and when we lost our re-electionn I was going through the seven stages of grief and Sally called me out of the blue a couple of days later and said, “Garry, you don’t have to worry about, you have a job.”
Has Brown run for office before?
“Yes, County Commissioner, Precinct Two, three years ago.”
He came in third, behind winner Brigid Shea and distant runner-up Roland Jung.
The Burnt Orange Report endorsement of Brown in that race offers a sense of his politics and background.
Burnt Orange Report endorses Garry Brown for Precinct 2 Travis County Commissioner owing to his experience in county government and long history as a Democratic activist.
In the other open-seat election for a position on the Travis County Commissioners’ Court, politicos have engaged in a large debate as to whether we should elect an experienced wonk or a long-time party activist. In Precinct 2, we don’t need that argument: Garry Brown is both. Brown offers strong credentials both as a partisan Democrat and an experienced Travis County employee, and that combination compels us to recommend a vote for him in the upcoming primary.
Brown currently serves as the Public Relations Director for Travis County Constable Sally Hernandez, and beforehand he spent four years as Chief of Staff to County Commissioner Karen Huber. That knowledge of county government will allow Brown to hit the ground running on the Commissioners Court, which can benefit from that infusion of energy. Brown’s progressive history-he has worked for Lloyd Doggett, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Travis County Democratic Party-leaves us confident that he will be part of the movement towards a better, bolder County government.
“There’s 60 to 65 percent of registered voters in this state that don’t vote,” Brown said.
He said they need an unconventional, straight-talking candidate to shake them out of their apathy.
“I’m the different kind of candidate. I’m calling people out for what’s happening in this state,” he said.
“Look, there’s no illusions of grandeur here, but I think there are opportunities, and I think I have the right message. Hopefully, with the strong language that I plan to use across the state, hopefully that will resonate with some people.”
You know, after the regular session, I was just really upset at what happened.
I just posted out there, “You know if it just doesn’t get any better, I’m going to run for governor.And people were like,”Garry, Oh my God, you should do it.”
It really started out as half a joke. And then when the special session happened, and no big-name Democrat was stepping up, I was like, “Someone’s got to call these people out. Let’s do something different for a change.
I mean, God love our past candidates but I just don’t think we can engage in bureaucratic-speak anymore. You know, “What they’re doing is wrong. They’r’e not nice people.”
No, that doesn’t energize anybody, and you know Democrats have gone middle-of-the-road so long, and look where it’s gotten us.
I pointed out that Tom Wakely, one of his rivals for the Democratic nomination for governor, wasn’t exactly a rhetorical shrinking violets.
I wrote about Wakely in a recent First Reading: `Berniecrat with a Panama hat,’ Tom Wakely launches campaign against `neofascist’ Greg Abbott.
(I devoted an earlier First Reading – Democrat Jeffrey Payne launches his `outside the box’ candidacy for governor – to a third candidate in the race, a Dallas businessman who has promised to devote a lot more money to this campaign than either Wakely or Brown are likely to be able to come up with.)
Brown’s nickname for Abbott is Absent Abbott.
We didn’t see Greg Abbott at all except when he went on Facebook Live to sign SB4 (the law banning sanctuary cities.) Are you kidding me? That was just one of the nails in the coffin for me. And then he cedes all leadership to Dan Patrick. He takes everything Dan Patrick says and tries to form a special session around those things. It’s just – GOLLLLLY – unbelievable.”
Brown said he had a cordial meeting with folks at the Texas Democratic Party.
It was a nice meeting and they totally understood where I was coming from. I was told that there are still a couple of people that they’re talking and it looks like … the same thing you’ve been hearing for the last three or four months. And I said, that’s great, and if somebody like Castro decides to jump in, then I’m good (and would get out).
Brown said he understood why a current Democratic officeholder might not want to give it up to challenge Abbott and his $41 million campaign kitty. That’s another reason, he said, his candidacy makes sense.
This way, I don’t have anything to lose and I can call them out and take one for the team. There’s nobody out there calling them out in such strong language that I’m seeing. l would love to see that.”
Dave Carney is Abbott’s chief political strategist.
And @randrewwhite, is Andrew White, the son of former Texas Gov. Mark White, who died in August.
Andrew White said last week that he is strongly considering seeking the Democratic nomination for governor as a pragmatic, independent-minded, conservative Democrat.
But, aside from being the son of a former governor, White is otherwise a political – and Twitter – neophyte.