August 16, 2004
What makes a candidate credible?

Recently, I posted about Tom DeLay's apparent change of heart regarding METRO. This led to speculation that DeLay's about-face was caused in part by Richard Morrison's aggressive campaigning on local issues such as transportation alternatives. Kevin then commented that Morrison isn't "credible", which drew some strong responses, and got me to thinking: What makes a candidate "credible" in the first place?

We can argue about whether a candidate is credible on a set of issues or not, but to me a credible candidate is one who has the resources and capability to have a shot at winning. What criteria can we use for that?

Let's start with money. Morrison has nowhere near the cash DeLay has, but he has raised over $200,000 so far, which is double what DeLay's previous opponent raised (I'm not counting the amount Tim Riley loaned to his campaign here). He's had a lot of success raising funds online, though a good portion of his cash still comes from in state and in particular in the Houston metro area. The DCCC may invest in him. He'll never match DeLay's firepower, but he's certainly not unarmed like some of DeLay's opponents have been.

Then there's polling data. We don't have much of that, but at least one poll suggests that Morrison isn't that far behind DeLay. Given that DeLay has won all his recent elections by 25-30 points, being within 10 is a pretty strong statement. He's still in a sizeable hole, of course, and will have a lot of work to do to get his name out, but at the very least Morrison is in a good position to do a fair amount better than any DeLay challenger in recent memory.

There are a number of other things in a campaign that can make a candidate look credible - professional operations, volunteer forces, etc - and my limited experience here suggests that Morrison is doing about as well as he could be. He certainly made a big splash at the State Convention a few weeks back - there were Morrison T-shirts and stickers everywhere, and the event at his hospitality suite was overflowing. These are all subjective measures, of course, and one can certainly differ in one's interpretation of them.

What clinches it for me, though, is how Tom DeLay has reacted to the Morrison campaign. We know he's opened campaign offices in the district for the first time in a long time. We know he's switched positions on teachers' retirement pay and now on METRO, both of which are issues that the Morrison campaign has highlighted. These events suggest to me that DeLay finds Richard Morrison to be a credible candidate. Who am I to argue with him about that?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 16, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

Was Steve Stockman a credible candidate in 1994?

The circumstances surrounding DeLay are very intriguing. I don't believe he'll lose, but I'm sure Jack Brooks and Tom Foley didn't think they would lose either.

The ground is shifting. We'll see how dramatic that shift is in just a couple of months.

Posted by: Joey Jo-Jo Shabadoo on August 17, 2004 1:50 AM