September 13, 2004
Chron on Stenholm vs Neugebauer

The Chron's weekly Let's Check In On The Congressional Elections Report takes a look at Charlie Stenholm versus Randy Neugebauer in CD19. A few things of interest:

"This redistricting can do nothing but hurt the agricultural interests of this part of the state," said Don Etheridge, a professor of agriculture and applied economics at Texas Tech University.

Last year's redistricting has Neugebauer and Stenholm facing off in the reconfigured 19th Congressional District, which takes in parts of the Panhandle and High Plains, zigzagging from Abilene to Lubbock.

"I don't know of anybody who likes this redistricting," said Steve Stovall, a real estate agent from Abilene who says he usually votes Republican but who is working for Stenholm. "It's something people in Austin forced on us."

Not mentioned in this article at all is the role Speaker Tom Craddick played in forcing through a plan that anchored a seat in Midland, which in turn forced Lubbock and Abilene together, which is how Stenholm and Neugebauer got paired. Maybe this isn't the place to rehash old history, but to say that "people in Austin" forced this map on the affected parties is not telling the whole story.

As head of the Conservative Democratic Forum in the 1980s, Stenholm was a key ally of President Reagan, and he takes pride in bucking the leadership of both parties. He was one of the few Democrats who voted to impeach President Clinton, and, as a supporter of balanced budgets, he has been an outspoken critic of President Bush's tax cuts.

Stenholm said he and other conservative Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition provided the president the winning margin in more than 40 key votes over the past four years. "But that doesn't count with Tom DeLay," he said, referring to the House majority leader, who engineered last year's redistricting in Texas. "If you're not with him 100 percent of the time and you're a Democrat, you're expendable."

Neugebauer, 54, was president of the Texas Association of Builders when he emerged from a field of 17 candidates in a special congressional election in June 2003.

"My opponent comes to the district and talks conservative," he said last week. "Not only do I talk conservative, I vote conservative."

I've touched on this point before, and it's worth coming back to again. I believe that the key for Stenholm is to reinforce the message that while it may be the Republican position that deficits don't matter, it's certainly not the conservative one. You want big deficits and a Congressman who'll be a rubber stamp for them, then vote for Neugebauer. You want fiscal responsibility, vote for Stenholm. It would have been nice to get a better feel from this article if this is something like the message Stenholm is putting out.

[Michael McDonald, a voting and redistricting expert at the Brookings Institution] said Stenholm and the four other Texas Democrats who are facing long odds represent the center in an increasingly polarized House. "Southern moderate and conservative Democrats are a vanishing breed," he said.

Just once in an article on the endangered Texas incumbents I want to see one of these experts note that the Northern moderate and liberal Republican is at least as endangered a species as the moderate/conservative Southern Democrat. Just once, that's all I ask.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 13, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack