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."
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."
[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.