WASHINGTON -- While most congressional candidates remain focused on November's elections, Austin's Michael McCaul is preparing a different campaign -- one he hopes will yield a leadership role among House Republicans when the 109th Congress convenes in January.
With no Democrat to face in November beyond a potential write-in candidate, McCaul has been free to spread his name around Washington, meeting House Speaker Dennis Hastert, White House political strategist Karl Rove and other Republicans serving in Congress.
"He's already a-moving and a-shaking," said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, McCaul's former boss at the Texas attorney general's office. "He's able to start building his staff (and) get to meet and know the powers-that-be."
"It's given me a tremendous advantage," said McCaul, a former federal prosecutor. "I'd like to have one of those leadership positions."
That said, it's worth mentioning again why the failure to field a non-write-in candidate is a damning indictment of the state Democratic Party:
McCaul, 42, also plans to tread another well-worn path to power: money.
He will campaign for other Republicans and hold an Austin fund-raiser for Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, who thanks to redistricting is embroiled in a nationally prominent race with 13-term Democratic Rep. Martin Frost of Dallas.
"I'll be focusing my time now on helping the other Republican candidates get elected. Besides being the right thing to do, it puts me in good stead with leadership," McCaul said.
McCaul -- already thinking about re-election in 2006 -- hopes to whittle away at his $1.6 million campaign debt (financed by his half of a $3 million home he owns with his wife, Linda). After a fund-raiser in Washington and another today at former Austin Mayor Roy Butler's house, he expects to have raised about $100,000 toward that goal. Other events are planned in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas.