Not long ago, Terri Hodge, the ex-con, was leading a breakout discussion at table No. 3 at a meeting hall in the Cedars. The strategy talk in early January was part of a biennial get-together to discuss tactics on how to “empower Democrats in the North Texas region.” Specifically, Hodge was giving advice on the art of “Building Better Vote-by-Mail Results,” according to the day’s agenda. What this political jargon means is that the former state representative was explaining to volunteers and activists—and, as it turns out, at least one mole—how to get more votes in ways other than the party putting forth better candidates.
“Remember,” Hodge told the group, according to my mole, “the elderly and the disabled are excellent sources of mail-in ballots. Don’t overlook them.”
There is nothing untrue or illegal about this statement. Everyone deserves a vote. Just because there have long been allegations in Dallas County of Democratic operatives filing mail-in ballots without the consent or full understanding of elderly or disabled voters, that doesn’t make statements like Hodge’s suspicious. Nor does the fact she’s an ex-con, since she was convicted of tax evasion, not voter fraud. Nor does the fact that allegations of mail-in deception have long followed her. Nor does the fact that her old assistant was once indicted for “helping” a blind person fill out a ballot. The charges were dropped, after all.
Highlighting Hodge, someone with what you could at best call a checkered past, is not illegal, but it is indicative of a fundamental flaw in the Dallas County Democratic Party. The party’s inclusion of Hodge—and, worse, its blundering, cornered-animal defense of her—illustrates the party’s slavish devotion to old-school Democrats who have strutted and fretted their hours upon the stage, and from whom we should hear no more. In a post-Trump landscape, when Democrats all over the country are trying to harness progressive zeal, the Dallas County Dems still seem like a party that has no idea how to remake itself and take advantage of that enthusiasm.