April 11, 2005
The targets

Is it too early to start talking about which Republican state reps the Democrats may be going after in 2006? Politico doesn't think so. Here's his list, grouped and ordered a bit differently, with my comments:

State Rep. Joe Nixon
State Rep. Martha Wong
State Rep. Robert Talton

I think it's fair to say that Moldy Joe Nixon is the #1 target in Harris County for the Democrats next year. He barely got a majority of the vote running against an independent candidate last year, and his district is rapidly trending away from the Republicans - compare with the 2002 partisan index and you'll see what I mean. Add on the fact that Nixon keeps generating campaign material for us, and this is a race the Democrats have to feel is a must win next year.

Martha Wong won the second closest state rep race in Harris County last year. She just voted to pass the anti-gay marriage HJR6 out of committee, so she's just pissed off a big part of her constituency. Candidate recruitment is ongoing here, and that will be key.

Robert Talton is a bit of a dark horse. Like Joe Nixon, he ran unopposed by a Democrat last year, and also like Joe Nixon was on an underwhelming number of ballots cast, though in his case the partisan index did not decline noticeably from 2002. A good candidate could make a race of this, but I'd call it a longshot. If the Dems do well here, we're doing very well in Harris County and probably statewide, too.

Not mentioned but worth noting: Two-term Rep Dwayne Bohac, who improved on his 2002 numbers last year, and Fort Bend's Charlie Howard, against whom Richard Morrison is recruiting an opponent. Neither is likely to be endangered, but as always, I like seeing Republicans get contested.

State Rep. Todd Baxter
State Rep. Ray Allen
State Rep. Tony Goolsby
State Rep. Roy Blake Jr.
State Rep. Bill Zedler

Arranged in order of closeness, all five of these folks had tight races in 2004. If that's the criteria, I can't say why they're on the list and Toby Goodman, John Otto, Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, Doc Anderson, Scott Campbell, and Linda Harper-Brown aren't.

State Rep. Gene Seaman

As noted before, Seaman did poorly in 2002, then drew a free pass in 2004. I'm glad to hear he's being targeted this year, I just wish we hadn't sat out a cycle.

State Rep. Kent Grusendorf
State Rep. David Swinford
State Rep. Geanie Morrison
State Rep. Warren Chisum

Going after some committee chairs here - Grusendorf is the Public Education chair and author of the much-maligned HB2, Morrison chairs Higher Education and thus can be dinged for tuition deregulation (she was also a player in redistricting), and Swinford oversees State Affairs, which is now considering HB16, or as Pink Dome puts it, the Separation of Church and Pharmacist bill. I guess these races can be used to a certain extent as proxies for the Governor's race next year. None of these people are in particularly swingy districts - only Grusendorf at 63% was even remotely challenged - so there'd have to be some symbolic value in these races. As for Chisum, he's basically a piece of homophobic furniture, also ensconsed in a safe district. I'd love to see him join his fellow dinosaurs in ExtinctionLand, but I'm not going to bet on it. I can't say I see the value of going after him as opposed to, say, Toby Goodman or Dwayne Bohac.

Finally, I should note that in my post where I argued that Democrats should be on the attack because they don't have that much turf to defend, I overlooked a couple of Dem incumbents who won squeakers last year: Stephen Frost, Mark Homer, Chuck Hopson, Jim McReynolds, and Robby Cook. I'd rather see their positions fortified than see resources go into a windmill-chaser like Chisum. This is of course the position that Red Dog has been advocating vis a vis Richard Morrison. I agree in principle, I just draw the line someplace else.

One last thing - if the Dems manage to run the table on these thirteen targets while holding onto all their own seats, they'd regain the majority by a 76-74 count. That won't happen, and for reasons cited above the playing field needs to be bigger than just these races. Nonetheless, thirteen is the magic number.

UPDATE: Apparently, State Affairs also has an anti-stem cell research bill before it. That makes more sense.

UPDATE: Byron adds on.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 11, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

I've already had a push poll type of call concerning Joe Nixon. I wish I could remember the candidate who was conducting the poll, but they were testing some attack messages from the right with registered Republican voters.

I wouldn't be surprised if Nixon falls in the primary.

Posted by: Patrick on April 11, 2005 5:09 PM

Good update, Kuff. I doubt we'll win the majority back until after the 2010 redistricting cycle (I get the feeling that demographics and the inevitable tendency for incumbents to put themselves before party interests may hurt the GOP when the re-map comes down the pipe).

Still, where there's a will, there's a way!

Posted by: Jim D on April 11, 2005 5:12 PM

The Red Dog loves this bite from Kuff. Given the close proximity of the Nixon/Wong/Talton mix, the Red Dog advocates a coordinated internship program giving resources to folks that can/should/will win. Tune into Texas Young Democrats for more on this.

13 is the magic number, and if we can do three in Houston, that leaves us 9 to make up in 06, 08, and 10. The Red Dog likes the odds IF WE GET CANDIDATES THAT WILL WORK HARD.

Keep barking it up for the future of Texas, Kuff!

Posted by: Red Dog on April 11, 2005 7:22 PM