November 08, 2004
Building the farm system

Kos had an interesting post a couple of days ago regarding gains made by Democrats in state legislatures around the country. As silver linings go, that one's pretty good. For one thing, state legislators should be a big part of a party's statewide bench. Off the top of my head, Governor Perry, his now-former chief of staff Mike Toomey, Tom DeLay, John Culberson, and the newly-elected Kenny Marchant are all alums of the Texas Lege. For another thing, when a state like Colorado turns both legislative chambers plus a Senate and Congressional seat Democratic, it suggests to me that perhaps it was Bush's victory there that was the anomaly.

To build on their (as yet unofficial) gain in the Lege this year, I see lots of potential in the urban counties for Democrats. Byron sees opportunities in the suburbs. I've talked about how Democrats are generally doing better in the big urban counties. Well, chew on this:

2000 election returns - Fort Bend County

George W. Bush /Dick Cheney REP 73,567 59.56%
Al Gore /Joe Lieberman DEM 47,569 38.51%

Tom DeLay REP 69,557 57.45%
Jo Ann Matranga DEM 47,692 39.39%

2004 election returns - Fort Bend County

George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney - Incumbent REP 93,554 57.38%
John F. Kerry/ John Edwards DEM 68,655 42.11%

Tom DeLay - Incumbent REP 58,399 53.21%
Richard R. Morrison DEM 46,114 42.01%

Yes, Fort Bend County, more Democratic and less Republican in 2004 than in 2000. Who saw that one coming?

UPDATE: Chris in the comments and Albert Hollan via email remind me that I overlooked Ron Paul's CD14, which does include a piece of Fort Bend County. Since Paul had no challenger, his totals don't currently show up anywhere on the Sec of State page; the only numbers I found were here. That muddies the waters quite a bit, though as Chris notes in the post linked above, the FBGOP still ought to feel that it underperformed. Hollan noted these numbers:

The 400th District Court is a single-county district. It covers all of Ft. Bend County. Here are the results:

2000 General Election---
Bradley Smith (Rep) 65,283 (57.18%)
John Cangelosi, Jr. (Dem) 48,888 (42.82%)

2004 General Election---
Cliff Vacek (Rep) 87,387 (56.57%)
Albert Hollan (Dem) 67,095 (43.43%)

This was the only local, countywide election this year in Ft. Bend County. As much as I would like to believe that we are making progress, I am sad to say that we are only keeping even.

I'm a bit more optimistic than that, since the Dem numbers are slightly better in a year where the top of the ticket declined, but there's unquestionably still a ways to go.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 08, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

Wait a minute. Am I really expected to believe that in this election, in which Kerry drew so many more than Gore did, and DeLay drew so many fewer than he did four years ago, the Democrats actually lost votes against DeLay?

If there were any reason to believe this could and would ever checked, I'd bet you real money that we'd find out something very wrong happened there.

Posted by: Avedon on November 8, 2004 1:38 PM

If there were any reason to believe this could and would ever checked, I'd bet you real money that we'd find out something very wrong happened there.

Well, in a manner of speaking something wrong did happen. The result is because of redistricting in which portions of Ft Bend were cut out of the distrct and larger portions of Harris county were added.

Posted by: Patrick on November 8, 2004 2:00 PM

Oh, right, how could I forget?

Still, it seems strange that there is so much greater difference between the percentage who voted for that seat this year than in 2000. And we lost a thousand votes, even though DeLay is being investigated and has become a much more famous creep in the intervening four years? It still seems wrong.

Posted by: Avedon on November 8, 2004 2:11 PM

The other Congressional race that included Fort Bend County was in CD09, the new district drawn to eliminate Rep. Chris Bell, who lost to Justice of the Peace Al Green in the Democratic primary. Green carried this portion of Fort Bend, much of which is actually in Houston, by a 24,000 to 6,000 vote margin over Republican Arlette Molina.

That would have been enough for Richard Morrison to have carried Fort Bend County in this race. He still would have lost, of course, since DeLay ran up a big majority in the Harris County portion of CD22, but it would have been more like a 52-45 win for DeLay.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on November 8, 2004 3:16 PM

Charles, you forget that there is a third Congressional race in Fort Bend County. Ron Paul was completely unopposed, and therefore, his race did not appear on the SOS page.

Also, it should be said that Molina was a very weak candidate, and DeLay would have done moderately better than 'Jeep' Molina in that population, just on name ID.

The areas of Fort Bend that were sloughed off to CD09 are Houston proper. These precincts are still part of the urban jungle, and I think to include this area as "suburban" is not entirely accurate.

However, nobody is denying (I've mentioned it on my own site) that this was a disappointing showing for the GOP in Fort Bend County, and some work needs to be done (for one, getting the Precinct Chairs to unify). DeLay killed some percentages.

Posted by: Chris Elam on November 8, 2004 4:05 PM

It will be interesting to see if the "farm team" can discover a "core Democratic message" than many seem to think has been absent, and which some think are causing the Democrats to lose big.

I'm not a Democrat and I rarely vote Democrat, but I think anyone who's not a hard-core right-wing zealot should be hoping for a more relevant Democratic Party in the future. Even if you're mostly small-c conservative or a moderate Republican, the best defense against the right-wing fringe of the GOP having its way with all elements of society is a principled and electable opposition. The more irrelevant the Dems become, the less we can "check" bad laws rammed through by the Republican Right.

Posted by: Tim on November 8, 2004 5:21 PM

You'll get a big ol "Amen" from me, Tim. Preach on, brother, preach on!

Posted by: Patrick on November 8, 2004 5:25 PM