January 15, 2004
Frost, Lampson, and Sandlin

As of today, we know what the immediate plans are for Democratic incumbents Charlie Stenholm (running in CD 19 against freshman Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer), Chet Edwards (running in CD 17, most likely against State Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth), Lloyd Doggett (running in CD 25 with District Judge Leticia Hinojosa as a primary opponent), Chris Bell (running in CD 9 with Justice of the Peace Al Green as a primary opponent), and Jim Turner (not running, rumored to be gearing up for a statewide campaign in 2006). That leaves three threatened incumbents: Martin Frost, Nick Lampson, and Max Sandlin.

Frost appears to be the closest to making a final decision. According to the Associated Press, he's going to challenge Republican Rep. Pete Sessions in the 32nd CD.

"His mind is made up 99.9 percent sure," a Dallas-based Democratic political strategist, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the newspaper. "This is going to be a very tough race for him, as he's not considered a conservative Democrat. But if he runs a solid campaign and positions himself as a centrist, he's got a good shot."

Two other Democratic strategists, in Austin and Washington, D.C., also said Frost is almost sure to run in the 32nd District.

A Democratic strategist in Washington, also speaking on condition that his name not be used, said he has also heard that Frost is leaning toward the Sessions district, noting it has a substantial minority base.


Sessions, R-Dallas, and Frost serve together on the influential House Rules Committee, but rarely agree on major legislation. Both are veteran fund-raisers, with Frost raising $1.7 million in the last election while Sessions amassed $730,000.

Frost's spokesman, Jess Fassler, said the congressman will make a decision on Friday.

"He's hearing from people all over North Texas urging him to run in their districts because they know how effective he has been," Fassler said.

Hyatt hotel officials confirmed that Frost has booked a room at Union Station in downtown Dallas beginning at 2 p.m. Friday.

"Once Martin announces, I'll be very happy to talk about it," Sessions said.

Sessions won the then-new 32nd in 2002 with 67% of the vote, after moving from the 5th CD, where he won in 2000 with 54%. Byron thinks Frost has a shot, while the Quorum Report says "CD32 contains a concentrated Jewish population with a long history of financial and political support for Martin Frost." All I know is that this ought to be one of the most (if not the most) expensive Congressional campaigns this year.

Nick Lampson has been rumored to run against Tom DeLay in the 22nd CD, and he's been reportedly thinking about the new 2nd CD, former home of Jim Turner. Now the Baytown Sun suggests a third possibility: CD 14, currently held by Ron Paul.

In the newly drawn 14th District, which now includes the eastern third of Baytown (including the Chambers County portion), only incumbent Ron Paul has filed so far. The Surfside Republican and one-time Libertarian Party presidential candidate has held the seat since 1997.

No Democrats have yet filed for the district, although there has been speculation that U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, may do so. The new 14th District includes much of the area covered by Lampsonís former 9th District. A representative of Lampsonís office did not return a phone call Tuesday.

Greg thought back in October that CD 14 is not insurmountable for the Democrats, and I think a Lampson candidacy would be a strong challenge to him. Hard to say, and Paul isn't anywhere near the top of my Least Liked GOP Incumbents list, but I'd take it if it happened.

As for Max Sandlin...Haven't heard a thing. There was some talk before the court ruling that Sandlin might take on Ralph Hall - this was also given as a reason for Hall's party-switch. We'll see what he does.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 15, 2004 to Killer D's | TrackBack

The 14th is still a 60-40 GOP district, so it'll be worth watching whether or not Lampson can get any traction in the counties to the south. Picking up John Sharp's endorsement might help, too. Not sure precisely where his old State Senate district was, but it was based around Victoria.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on January 15, 2004 12:54 PM