February 18, 2004
Congressional happenings

Crossposted from Polstate, here are some news and notes from the various Congressional races around here to keep you going until the next race of national interest.

Rep. Charlie Stenholm and Rep. Randy Neugebauer are touring the new CD19 to make themselves better known to its residents. An RNCC-sponsored poll released last week had Neugebauer leading this race by 11 points (49-38), but both men had good favorable ratings, with Stenholm doing slightly better.

In CD 25, Republican candidate Rebecca Armendariz Klein has chosen her opponent by kicking off her formal campaign with an attack against Rep. Lloyd Doggett.

Klein touted her fluency in Spanish and said her conservative values will resonate with the district's voters, 70 percent of whom are Hispanic.

She blasted Doggett, without naming him, as an example of "career politicians who only know how to oppose everything, who make great promises during the campaign season" only to forget about their constituents after winning the election.

Doggett decided to run in the newly formed District 25 after the Republican-led Texas Legislature redistricted him out of the Austin-centered district he has represented for a decade.

On Tuesday, Doggett said he and Klein were in agreement about at least one thing.

"I am referring to her statement that she is tired of the 'empty extremist rhetoric of career politicians who put partisanship over the interest of our communities,'" Doggett said. "Her statement is a fitting description of House Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his effort to divide communities across Texas."

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, who authored and pushed through the redrawn map of the state's 32 congressional districts, introduced Klein here.

During a weeklong federal court trial last year, King testified that map drawers tailored the 350-mile-long district specifically so a Hispanic Democrat would win that race and to offset criticism that the plan was designed to kill the careers of seven longtime Anglo Democrats, including Doggett.

Klein said she will raise and spend about $2 million in the general election and about $150,000 for the primary.

With so many races promising to be loud and expensive, this one has dark-horse promise for being the loudest and dirtiest.

I haven't found a newspaper cite, but Sen. John Cornyn has endorsed Mike McCaul in the crowded 10th CD race. There's no Democrat running in this Austin-to-Houston district, so the GOP primary winner will take the seat. A press release announcing this can be found here (Word doc).

The Star Telegram looks at the GOP primary in the 17th CD, where Arlene Wohlgemuth, who abandoned her state House seat to run here even before the federal court upheld the new boundaries, is getting a spirited challenge from Dot Snyder for the right to run against Rep. Chet Edwards.

The new 170-mile-long district stretches southeast from Hood and Johnson counties and includes several cities, Baylor University and Texas A&M. It includes about a third of the old district, including Waco, but not Fort Hood in Killeen, where Edwards had strong support.

The race is tight between Wohlgemuth and Snyder, who has raised the most money so far - more than $281,000 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Wohlgemuth had nearly $68,500, and McIntyre, who has never run for public office, reported about $23,600.

When campaigning, Wohlgemuth touts her work on the Appropriations Committee in the last legislative session when she authored the sweeping reform of the state's health and human services, streamlining 12 agencies into five, tightening up Medicaid and saving the state more than $1.1 billion.

"People don't have to just accept what I'm telling them; they can look at my record," she said.

But Wohlgemuth may best be known for the Memorial Day Massacre in 1997, when she used a procedural move to kill 52 bills - some pushed by then-Gov. Bush - scheduled for House debate. She was angry that a proposal she supported, requiring parental notification before abortions, had been defeated on procedural grounds.

Wohlgemuth said she does not believe those actions or her reputation as a conservative will hurt her.

"The vast majority of people understand why I did what I did and admire the fact that I was willing to stand up for principle," Wohlgemuth said.

Snyder points to her experience in education. As a Waco school board member, she wrote a policy ending social promotion, a program that withstood a court challenge. Bush, when governor, later visited Waco to discuss the policy and used it as a model for his "No Child Left Behind" initiative, she said. Snyder also led efforts to have abstinence taught as part of sex education curriculum.

"I'm a very positive person, someone who solves problems with tough people hammering out solutions," she said. "My history is working with a variety of people to accomplish things."

She also counts Bush and the first lady among her friends. Snyder's husband, Dr. Ned Snyder III, a gastroenterologist, was in the same fraternity with Bush at Yale. The two remained friendly and play golf when the president visits his Crawford ranch.

A picture of the two couples is used in one of Snyder's television ads, but she said she is not using her family's relationship with the Bushes to get elected.

"I wouldn't want to abuse the friendship," Snyder said. "I talk about a president that I respect and admire."

Edwards is well-funded and should have a decent shot at keeping his seat. Elsewhere, Wohlgemuth recently visited Texas A&M, which is in the 17th CD, but didn't impress everyone while there.

Finally, the sure-to-be epic battle between Rep. Martin Frost and Rep. Pete Sessions is already being fought on several fronts, including the House Rules Committee, of which both men are members, and fundraising. It's been mentioned elsewhere, but one group supporting Martin Frost is his co-religionists.

Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) is seen as being in the most trouble.

Because of redistricting in Texas, Frost will need to face off against incumbent Rep. Jeff (sic) Sessions (R-Texas) in a redrawn district made up of mostly Sessions’ constituents.

Frost, who is Jewish, recently raised $100,000 in Jewish money at a Houston fund-raiser. He is seen as a leader on Israel issues and is the former chairman of the Democratic Caucus.

One political analyst said Frost has some chance in the new district, because it is more than 50 percent minority voters, and Frost is a proficient fund-raiser.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 18, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack