Gilberto Hinojosa isn’t the only 2023 Bum Steer! Read about our Bum Steer of the Year, Austin, and the other runners-up: Louie Gohmert, Herschel Walker, and Floperation Lone Star. Also, check out our Best Things in Texas list for examples of some of this year’s uplifting moments.

Gilberto Hinojosa

Brownsville, Texas

Energetic Texas Democratic Chair seeking new opportunities in legislative affairs, punditry, and/or life coaching. My superpowers are envisioning profound success, reflecting on total failure, assigning blame, and expressing I’m-rubber-you’re-glue-level deflection.

Relevant Experience

Texas Democratic party chair, 2012–present 

• Before the 2022 midterms, elected 67 Democratic members to Texas Legislature (42 percent increase); flipped Harris, Fort Bend, Bexar counties to Democrats; flipped enough seats that Democrats control half of the courts
of appeal; increased Democrat turnout by 30 percent . . . without ever winning a statewide race, but still! 

• Came “really close” with Beto in 2018 

• Turned Texas into what I like to call the “biggest battleground state

• Have spread more inexplicably positive vibes about Democratic election chances than anyone in the long and colorful history of Texas politics

• Coined the endlessly useful talking point “Turning Texas blue is not an event, it’s a process” 

• Somehow was first elected chair in 2012 even though I actually said to a reporter, “Because somebody needs to do it” when I was asked why I was running 

• Said this with a straight face in September 2020: “Texas will go to Joe Biden”

• Commissioned a 29-page report to see just what the heck went wrong with Texas’s Democratic party in 2020 and discovered the culprit to be the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented us (but not the GOP) from doing enough door-to-door canvasing. It’s true!

• Realized you can scapegoat the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for anything (“If we lose this election, it’s completely on them”)

• Received a letter from 38 Democratic party executive committee members in November 2020 after we didn’t gain any seats in the Texas House that said, “From messaging to organizing, political data to simple administration, the Texas Democratic Party has dropped the ball and it is becoming more and more apparent every day that our senior leadership is refusing to take responsibility or, more importantly, the actions necessary to resolve the many shortfalls of our party this election cycle,” and I just let it roll off my back

• Keep getting reelected!


• Media appearances

• Thinking outside the (ballot) box

• Finger-pointing

• “People guy” 

• Wrapping up conference calls with a folksy quip

• Maintaining a truly amazing mustache

• Manipulating statistics (small sample sizes, adding up percentages, attributing correlation to causation, et cetera)

• Nailing just the right amount of knickknacks in Zoom backgrounds

• Knowing which photo ops demand rolled-up sleeves and a casually loosened necktie

• Ordering exactly the right menu item at lunch

• Displaying a can-do attitude amid never-ending electoral decimation and widespread hopelessness among Democratic voters

• Microsoft Excel

This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Employee of the Year.” Subscribe today.