November 03, 2004
And onward we go

All right, enough time in the funk for me. Let's look back at a few of the things that went well, a few places where we need to do (much) better, and a few opportunities for 2006.

First things first, I'm really thrilled about Chet Edwards. I wish he had more company, but if I had to pick the most egregious of the Endangered Five's opponents, it would've been tough, but Arlene Wohlgemuth would have come out on top. She was the perfect opponent for Chet - a true wingnut, disliked in Waco for her stance regarding pollution in the lake there, and presenting a big target on her back for sponsoring the legislation that kicked 150,000 children off of CHIP. Edwards hung that around her neck like the millstone it deserved to be, and I think it really hurt her. He earned his victory. Of course, he'll continue to be vulnerable in 2006. That's still a GOP-friendly district, and maybe next time the Republicans will run someone who isn't so scary against him. At least by then he'll have the usual incumbent's advantage and will be tougher to beat. He'll be under the gun, though, make no mistake about it.

I'd like to see all of his outgoing colleagues run for office again in 2006. Not for their old seats - if they didn't win them this time, they won't win them as challengers, so they may as well let someone else give it a try. I'd like to see at least three of them take a shot at the State Senate, say Lampson versus Tommy Williams, Sandlin versus either Kevin Eltife or Todd Staples, and Frost versus John Carona. Stenholm would make a great Ag Commish candidate, but if he prefers a more local race he could take on Robert Duncan. I wouldn't say any of them would be favored, but if the Democrats are going to make a serious push statewide in 2006, they need as many serious candidates on the ballot as they can get.

The State House offers some interesting possibilities. Assuming all results remain as they currently are, there were more Democrats elected with less than 60% of the vote than there were Republicans by a 17-11 margin, but all of those closely-elected Democrats did it while up against a homeboy President who racked up 61% of the vote statewide; for their Republican counterparts, their close victories came with that gale force as a wind to their backs. Who do you think will be in the stronger position in 2006 when the conditions aren't quite so extreme?

And take note of Sarah's comment here Hubert Vo's victory, even if it eventually gets overturned on instant replay, should send a pretty loud message to both Democrats and Republicans in Harris County. Allen Blakemore's words may prove more prophetic than he thinks. Moldy Joe Nixon in particular ought to be concerned. I'll take a look at some of the other possibilities in my next entry, when I examine some county data.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 03, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

Hmmm... I dunno Charles. There was a lot of ticket-splitting going on this year. I don't deny 2006 will be more interesting, but let's let the dust settle a little bit longer.

Posted by: Chris Elam on November 3, 2004 9:42 PM

Re: Ticket-splitting. I think people will get used to it. People may get exercised over gay marriage and vote for Bush and the Republicans, but they also want things like CHIP, class-size limits, the unadulterated teaching of evolution and geology in public school, those little things that Republicans oppose. To some degree it involves an educational process that the things that Republicans do in the state house hurt many of their constituents. There are also technical problems, it's a little more difficult to split a ticket on the eslate than using the old punchcard system.

Charles: thanks for noting my comment. I should mention I worked on Hubert's campaign. I forgot to mention it in the original comment. It's a bit of a nail-biter but I am happy either way (obviously happier if Hubert has won).

In speaking with voters at the polling places, I was very pleased to see the number of supporters. People would come up to me and say, "I hope he wins" "I'm a teacher and I know how important this is". I had one man come up to me after he voted to say that he was angered by the aggressive direct mail campaign. In fact, several voters were turned off by the negative pieces (and by the fact that they were sent almost daily).

I think there is the potential a similar reaction in other races (although Heflin is more polarizing than most). I do live in Joe Nixon's district. I suspect there are quite a few voters who would be interested in seeing an alternative. It's an issue of not giving the Republicans a free pass & providing the voters with options.

I'd like to see a decent candidate in the SBOE race (that would be 2008). Terri Leo has such strong Republican party insider support, I used to think she could be beaten in the primary and I no longer believe that is possible.

Posted by: Sarah Berel-Harrop on November 4, 2004 1:07 AM