December 10, 2003
Fuzzy math

Richard Morrison's website now has my interview linked from his news page. There are a couple of other articles about him and his campaign, but something in this story caught my eye.

“We’ll be mounting an aggressive re-election campaign as always,” Jonathan Grella said. “Congressman DeLay clearly has been an advocate for his district for several years and is clearly in a position to deliver on its priorities.”

Grella said a Democrat will have a tough time beating DeLay. In 2002, Republican challenger Michael Fjetland drew just 20 percent of the vote in the primary, but still took more votes than Tim Riley, who won the Democratic primary that year.

Oh, really?

November 2002 results:

Vote Total %
Tom DeLay REP* 100,024 63.12%
Tim Riley DEM* 55,570 35.07%

March 2002 Republican primary results:

Vote Total %
TOM DELAY 22,179 79.79%
MIKE FJETLAND 5,619 20.21%

Don't know if the error is Jonathan Grella's or the reporters, but jeez, how hard is it to check that?

One other item to keep in mind:

But this is what he's up against: As of Sept. 30, DeLay had already raised $810,000 for his 2004 campaign. If he had to, he could easily surpass the $1.2 million he spent to beat lightly regarded Democrat Tim Riley in 2002, when DeLay won with 63 percent.

So, you know. Help if you can.

UPDATE: Byron and RiceGrad have both pointed out in the comments that the comparison was between Fjetland's and Riley's primary totals, not primary-to-general as I had read it. Fair enough, though given the generally lousy turnout for primaries I still think it's not a useful comparison. Nonetheless, I should have read that more carefully. Thanks for the correction.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 10, 2003 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

It's been a few years since I've lived in Texas, so remind me - are the primaries open? I mean, does one have to be a registered as a party member to vote, or is it just show up & pick a party ballot?

Posted by: Dave on December 10, 2003 11:56 PM

Well, I hate to stand up for a DeLay staffer *cringe*, but from the wording of it, I would assume that he was referring to the fact that Fjetland won more votes in the GOP primary than Riley won in the Democratic primary last year:

U. S. Representative District 22
TIM RILEY DEM 4,606 51.62%
Race Total 8,922

Riley's 4606 votes was fewer than Fjetland's 5619 votes.

Posted by: ByronUT on December 11, 2003 2:15 AM

You may be right, Byron. I know I didn't read it that way, but your interpretation does make more sense. It's an apples-to-oranges comparison either way.

Dave, the answer is yes, Texas is an open primary state. You can vote in any one primary, with the caveat that you can only vote in a primary runoff if you voted in that primary's general election (or didn't vote in a primary at all). I know where you're going with that, and I doubt it would work - DeLay would run in the general election as an independent and likely still win easily. But yes, you could vote against him in the GOP primary if you want.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 11, 2003 7:59 AM

Doh! Byron beat me to it.

Grella has a valid point -- 20% of the GOP primary vote is more than a majority of the Dem primary vote. He was just trying to point out how strongly the district leans Republican (though it's not completely fair, as I believe the 25th district had more GOP primary voters in 2002, whereas it's definitely a Democratic district)

Posted by: Another Rice Grad on December 11, 2003 8:22 AM

... and of course, that point underscores my own advice that for any Dem to have a prayer in a district like this, they had best be ready to get some Republicans to vote for them ... be they Morrison Republicans, or Lampson Republicans, or whatever. Just ask Charlie Stenholm, Chet Edwards, or Jim Turner.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on December 11, 2003 9:22 AM