April 05, 2005
The more, the merrier?

Via The Stakeholder, there are now rumors of a contested Democratic primary in CD22 for next year.

Houston city council member Gordon Quan has confirmed for that he's talked with national Democratic Party leaders about running against DeLay.

Democratic activists say former Congressman Nick Lampson, who didn't return calls, is also considering campaigning for DeLay's job.

And then, there's Richard Morrison, who ran against DeLay last year. The self-described "no name" candidate won 42 percent of the vote.

"If I have primary opponents, that shows that there is true vulnerability with Mr. DeLay because, as we all know, throughout the whole history no one wanted to run against him because they assumed he was unbeatable."

I've heard the Gordon Quan rumors. I'm not exactly sure why he's such a hot idea all of a sudden, especially given that a quick search of the voter registration database shows he doesn't live in CD22. He does have some name recognition and has won three Houston citywide elections, which may or may not be useful in Fort Bend, Galveston, and Brazoria Counties. I'm a bit reluctant to bring this up, but I think one reason for Quan's name being floated is a bit of cynical calculation - there's a growing Asian-American population in this district, most notably in Fort Bend, and Quan would presumably be in a good position to capture their votes. I don't think that's nearly enough to make a difference, however.

I like Gordon Quan and I'll be happy to support him in his next race, but if I were his chief strategist, this isn't the race I'd advise him to jump into. I'm far from certain he'd win the primary. Maybe a countywide race (unfortunately for him, there's already two Democratic candidates lining up for the County Judge nomination), maybe a State Rep race (he's in Martha Wong's district), maybe even running against the Congressman who currently represents him (John Culberson - yeah, I know, in my dreams). I think there will be better races for him, in 2008 if not 2006. Bottom line, I would not make him a favorite to face DeLay, let alone beat him.

As for Lampson, I had a chance to speak to him at a grassroots activism workshop he co-sponsored in 2003, before the new Congressional map was finalized and before anyone had heard of Richard Morrison. He told me at the time, off the record, that he was considering a run against DeLay if he got screwed by re-redistricting. The new CD22 does contain some of his old turf, around NASA and in Galveston, but as we know, he chose to fight it out in the new CD02, which contains his home base of Beaumont. My guess is that this speculation is someone's "hey, wouldn't it be cool if..." scenario, and that no one has asked Lampson himself what he thinks of it.

Long as we're tossing around names, I got an email from Carl Whitmarsh's listserv yesterday from someone who's pining for Chris Bell to give up on the Governor's race (the letter writer seems to take it as a given that the GOP nominee will be Kay Bailey Hutchison, a notion which is more than sufficient in my mind to question the judgment behind it) and move into CD22 to go mano-a-mano with DeLay. There are many reasons why I think this is a bad idea, not the least of which being the implied defeatism over the Governor's race, but it ain't gonna happen so I ain't gonna worry about it.

Frankly, I think Morrison's comments here are dead on, and off the top of my head I can't think of any truly likely challengers whom I'd mark as the favorite over Morrison in a contested Democratic primary. I'm not saying such a person doesn't exist - if Lampson really is a contender, he'd have to be taken seriously - but I'm not convinced there is one by this story. I also think that not currently living in CD22 - something that's true for everyone mentioned here other than Morrison - is a big strike against any potential comer. Do we really want to let DeLay run as the "home town boy" against "outside agitators" and "meddlers from Washington"? One of DeLay's exploitable weaknesses is his lack of connection to the district. Let's please not take that issue off the table.

One more thing:

"Of course, it's a Republican district, but not as heavily Republican as it has been. DeLay had to bleed that district to help out some of his friends. So the result is that the district is only about 54 to 56 percent Republican," says KHOU political analyst Bob Stein.

Bob Stein's a smart guy, but I have no idea where he's getting that "54 to 56 percent Republican" figure from. I've noted before that the Secretary of State has the statewide split in the new CD22 as 34.1 Democratic/65.9 Republican. I've noted that DeLay ran a consistent seven percentage points behind President Bush in Fort Bend, Harris, and Galveston Counties, meaning Bush got about 62-63% overall in CD22. I haven't crunched the numbers, but based on what I've seen, I'd estimate that the other Republican statewide candidates (Carillo, Brister, Keasler) got about 60% in CD22. Given that, how can that "54 to 56 percent Republican" figure possibly be accurate? Don't get me wrong here - I hope I'm the one who's wrong, because it's much easier to make up 4 to 6 points than it is 10 to 12. But with all due respect to Dr. Stein, I want to see his data first. Given DeLay's weak showing in 2004, if CD22 really were a 55% GOP district, we'd be saluting Congressman Morrison today.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 05, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

That's why Dick Murray is the Man. Go Coogs!

Posted by: RedDog on April 5, 2005 10:33 AM

Lampson might be more apt to make a go of it in CD 14, since he can't take his beating like a man, find a private sector job and give up politics. =)

CD 14 contains most of Galveston County, has some labor union voters, and is a weaker GOP percentage than CD 22. The only portions of Galveston Co. in CD 22 are heavy GOP... no help to Nicky there.

Posted by: Chris Elam on April 5, 2005 10:59 AM

You need to check your math, Chris. Morrison carried the CD22 portion of Galveston County by over 3000 votes (they tally was 12,377 - 9,193). Kerry carried that part of Galveston as well, though by a much smaller margin (11,311 - 11,188). That means it's the CD14 part of the district which is more GOP-leaning, since Bush carried GalvCo overall.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 5, 2005 11:16 AM

You know Charles, you're right. My math was wrong in 2004. Dad gum...

Posted by: Chris Elam on April 5, 2005 11:35 AM

How interesting that folks are now coming out of the woodwork to talk about challenging DeLay. Where were these profiles in courage last year when Richard Morrison did exactly that and pulled DeLay's winning percentage down by 10 points?

Posted by: Oh, Sarah! on April 5, 2005 11:35 AM

However, in 2002 - the INCUMBENT - Nick Lampson, lost that particular area of CD 22 in question. By 100 votes (the tally was 12,545 - 12,474). Overall, he won by 6000 votes (26,917 - 32,798) in total Galveston County. Seems as though Morrison '04 enjoyed a slight advantage over Nicky '02 in that part of town. That or DeLay blew that area off too hard.

Either way, its not a mistake to call that area GOP friendly when two years ago, the incumbent Democrat LOST that portion of the county in a non-presidential year. I'll back off on the 'heavy GOP' comment, however.

Posted by: Chris Elam on April 5, 2005 12:01 PM

I'll say the same thing for Texas that I did for Pennsylvania.

Run that open (clean) primary, and let's see what happens.

I'm a Morrison supporter-sending him a little bit of money every month out of my "democracy" budget. But a well run primary raises visibility and forces candidates to hone their message. Particularly if both of 'em are on the incumbent.

I don't know that much about the intricacies of party politics in Texas so I'm talking inside baseball without any idea what any of the players stats are.

However, I do know that if you're going to develop a populist message, you need to give people a chance to see that their voices matter.

And Chris Bell should get off the damn dime about the Gov'na's race already. IMNSHO. heh.

Posted by: Boadicea on April 5, 2005 1:29 PM

While I have not seen the stats from which Stein is drawing, it is my guess that he is calculating the percentage of self-identifying Republicans among all registered voters in CD22. Not all voters register (or identify) as either Republican or Democrat, thus saying that the breakdown of CD22 is 34.1% Democrat and 65.9% (which adds neatly to 100%) does not represent all voters.

Given that Stein was likely using the ratio of self-identifying Republicans to registered voters, the 54%-56% figure makes more sense than it otherwise would.

Posted by: RiceOwl on April 5, 2005 1:46 PM

Writing to you from Galveston - we'd love to see Lampson run down in 14, but heck, we'd like to see ANYBODY run down here. It was crazy that Ron Paul had no Democratic opponent in '04.

You touched on the governor's race. This is some information to just file in the back of your brain for awhile and see if any thing comes of it down the road. I manage a bookstore here in Galveston. Two weeks ago we had a booksigning for Kinky Friedman at the Grand Opera House. In my seven years of running this bookstore, I have never UNDER ordered books for a booksigning. This time, we sold out. I had appr. 200 books and could have sold 50 more. Also, I was told that his booksigning in Houston the night before had taken 5 hours.

Yes, these were primarily Kinky fans, but Kinky's associates were clearly surprised (as I was) by the response. They had brought their campaign materials with them and between the two events run out of everything (posters, bumper stickers, etc.).

As with any third-party attempt, he's got a long uphill climb particularly with the virtual impossibility of getting on the ballot as an independent (he says he wants to be the first independent for governor on the ballot since SAM HOUSTON); however, there appears to be a core enthusiasm that is the first of many tests a candidate has to pass.

He'll be coming back to Galveston to speak at the Pachyderm Club in June. If I hear anything, I'll let you know how that goes. Reaching some Republicans is another one of those tests.

Posted by: Jay on April 5, 2005 2:04 PM

RiceOwl - The Secretary of State numbers are based on the results in the given district of the 2002 statewide elections, which is why they add neatly to 100. In the case of the new CD22, that means the vote totals in those races were 34.1% Dem, 65.9% GOP. They also give the totals for the Lt Gov race alone (as I recall, something like 37.5% Dem, 62.5% GOP), as that race was the high-water mark for Dems statewide in 2002. You may well be right about Stein, but that's where my numbers come from.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 5, 2005 4:08 PM

First off, i don't see why we feel the need to get all pissy if a district is 55-45, or 60-40, or whatever. There are points to be made for both but it's not really important, if we played every seat by the numbers Democrats may as well give up now. In 2004, Bush outpolled Kerry by almost 20,000 votes in Galveston county. Does that mean Galveston is Republican? What it means is that there are very few races that we can look at for targeting purposes.

What we all know is that DeLay is vulnerable.If he gets indicted he might even lose. All this think about what Morrison is owed is crap. Nobody is owed a nomination or a second shot or anything like that. Was Gore owed another shot? Is Kerry? They ran close races. The answer is no. If everyone wants to win as bad as they say, they need to find another candidate. The district is to conservative for Morrison. People might dislike DeLay, but he'll get enough votes to beat Richard. It's not like Richard lost 55-45, he got under 42. That's a long way to go. As we saw last year, voting against someone is rarely enough.

Posted by: j. on April 5, 2005 4:50 PM

If Stein really think it's a 54-56% district, he's wrong. I hope he was misquoted.

Posted by: Evan on April 5, 2005 9:06 PM

Jay --

I've been beating that drum for months.

Frankly, I'd rather see Lampson run for the United States Senate.

Posted by: Jm D on April 5, 2005 9:51 PM

CD14? State Rep. Craig Eiland should run against Ron Paul (and Galveston Co. Judge Jim Yarbrough should run for Eiland's state House seat).

Posted by: Zangwell Arrow on April 6, 2005 5:59 AM

Note to Oh Sarah! - You ask where any potential Democratic candidate was before DeLay looked beatable. I can tell you where Morrison was - voting in the Republican primary. Check his voting record.

I agree with j. We don't need to run a loser just because he's "earned" it by losing. There were people working against DeLay for years in the 22nd while Morrison was out voting Republican.

Posted by: Tootie on April 6, 2005 2:14 PM

Hey Tootie or Vicki, I've never voted in the republican primary in my life. Although I did consider it to vote for McCain, but I voted in the dem. primary. If you got the records post them on net. Get your facts straight and anybody who has been working hard to defeat DeLay is a friend of mine. I hope that they will contact me and offer me their support. I don't think I'm entitled to run this race again, but right now I'm the only one running. I welcome all opponents in the primary if they have the guts to run.
Fight on!
Richard Morrison

Posted by: Morrison for Congress on April 6, 2005 4:20 PM