Rick Cofer ends bid for Travis County Democratic Party chairman


Longtime Democratic Party activist Rick Cofer announced Wednesday night that he is ending his campaign to become chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party to make room for “strong female candidates” for the post.

“I have absolutely loved running for this position, and would’ve loved to serve you in this role,” Cofer said in a statement to supporters and friends, “but the very best thing I can do for our party is to step aside for incredible women leaders.”

Cofer would not reveal the names of the replacement candidates he had in mind. But he said Wednesday night that an announcement was imminent.

Cofer’s campaign for the unpaid post had quickly followed Chairman Vincent Harding’s announcement at the end of last month that he would not seek re-election, citing in part recent family health woes. Harding said he would remain in the role until his two-year term ends in June 2018.

Local party chairs recruit candidates to run for elected office, spearhead party fundraising efforts, seek out volunteers to help with campaigns and sometimes serve as the voice of the party. On Sunday evening, for instance, Harding released a statement after the local party approved a resolution calling for greater police accountability in the city’s pending contract with the police union.

Earlier this year, Harding faced pushback within the party after he staved off an effort to pressure Austin state Rep. Dawnna Dukes to resign. At the time Dukes faced corruption charges, but prosecutors dropped those charges this week.

Cofer, an attorney at the Travis County Attorney’s Office who has been highly active in local politics, had a long list of prominent supporters that included Austin’s former mayor and current state Sen. Kirk Watson, four of the five state House Democrats who represent Travis County, District Attorney Margaret Moore, Sheriff Sally Hernandez and several Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners Court members.

Hernandez, reached Wednesday, said she was disappointed that Cofer was pulling out of the race. Hernandez said she has a lot of respect for him.

“I hate that he’s stepping down and that he’s not running because I believe that Rick would be an outstanding party chair for Travis County,” she said. “He’s been very committed to Democratic politics. He’s done so much for so many different candidates, and he’s done a lot for the party.”

Hernandez echoed Cofer in saying that she’d like to see a strong female candidate step up but also didn’t offer any names.

“Let’s do everything we can do for the future of our party,” Cofer wrote to conclude the statement. “And let’s do everything possible to elect the future progressive leaders of Texas. We can turn Texas blue, and we will do it together.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Susan Steeg faces Democratic challenger in justice of the peace race
Susan Steeg faces Democratic challenger in justice of the peace race

Handling traffic citations, eviction or debt collection cases might not sound like the sexiest job on the ballot this March, but both Democratic Precinct 3 justice of the peace candidates said the job offers a unique chance to help residents. “Most people overlook JP court,” said Sylvia Holmes, associate director at the University of Texas&rsquo...
Four Republicans compete for Williamson County commissioner seat
Four Republicans compete for Williamson County commissioner seat

Four Republicans are competing for the chance to be Williamson County’s next Precinct 4 commissioner in the primary in March. Vying to face off against Democrat Carlos Salinas in November are Russ Boles, a commercial broker; David Marek, a truck driver for Williamson County’s Road and Bridge Division; Heather Peal, a managing partner of...
Court-at-Law No. 3 judge faces Democratic challenger
Court-at-Law No. 3 judge faces Democratic challenger

As Travis County faces racial disparities in its jails, both Democratic judicial candidates for Court-at-Law No. 3 said tackling the issue will be among the biggest challenges for the winner. This summer, the civil rights organization Grassroots Leadership revealed that, according to an analysis of 2015 jail booking data, African-Americans on average...
Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance a first in Texas
Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance a first in Texas

Just before 1 a.m. Friday, the Austin City Council voted in what could be described as the most progressive labor policy for the entire state and possibly the American South. At the behest of Council Member Greg Casar, the council made Austin the first city in Texas to require private employers to provide paid sick leave, a move that quickly garnered...
City Council approves plan to replace security boxes after burglaries

The Austin City Council approved a plan Thursday to replace the locks on security boxes in apartments and commercial buildings across the city, months after police investigators said one of the master keys first responders use for emergencies was likely stolen and used in burglaries. Per the council’s direction, the overhaul is not to exceed...
More Stories