September 13, 2005
And then there were three in CD17

Via Nate, there are now three Republican contenders for the right to challenge Rep. Chet Edwards in CD17, down from five earlier on.

Former Capitol Hill assistant and attorney Tucker Anderson, Harvard graduate and Iraq war platoon leader Van Taylor and two-time Purple Heart recipient Bentley Nettles are raising money and promising a positive, strong campaign.

The three have never held elected office, but each proclaim strong commitment to civil service and ties to the state going back at least six generations.

Potential candidates Texas A&M University assistant professor Todd Kent and former congressional candidate Fred Wood decided not to run.

With nearly four months before the filing deadline Jan. 2, other challengers can still enter the race.

Without knowing anything else about any of these guys, I'd rather see the former Capitol Hill assistant as Edwards' opponent than the other guys. All things being equal, I think the two veterans would give Edwards a tougher fight. Just my gut reaction.

Some Republicans wished for a lone candidate instead of another three-way campaign. In 2004, then state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, R-Burleson, defeated former Waco school board president Dot Snyder in a runoff after Texas A&M professor Dave McIntyre finished a strong third in the primary. Several Republicans said the primary weakened Wohlgemuth going into the general election.

“Many of us had hoped we would not have a primary battle, but it looks like that's now out of the question,” said M.A. Taylor, chairman of the McLennan County Republican Party.

“It just costs our candidates a lot of money, and lets Chet off scot-free. He gets to save his money, while we've got to spend ours,” Taylor said.

Edwards has already amassed more than $560,000 and likely won't face a Democratic challenger next spring. The Republican candidates don't have to announce their fundraising results until Oct. 15, when their first reports are due.

I don't think the eventual nominee will have any problems raising money. This is the one last office that Republicans in Texas think they should hold but don't. And of course the good thing about a contested primary is that it makes for regular news, which will help to raise these guys' name ID. Sure, they could wound each other with a nasty campaign, but that'll happen anyway in the general. If I'm a GOP chairman, that'd be low on my worry list.

Edwards has said that if Republicans couldn't defeat him in 2004, with President Bush on the ticket, they're not going to do it in 2006.

Baylor University associate political science professor Thomas Myers said with the lack of proven candidates with prior political service, it is going to be tough for the Republican Party next year.

“Chet Edwards has all of that incumbency, all of the savvy that comes with those years of service, with all of the contacts in the community and a solid record of representing his district and I don't know that having fought in the Iraqi war will have much of a chance of overcoming that,” Myers said.

“I don't see the Republican Party having much of a chance in the general election,” Myers said.

M.A. Taylor, the county GOP chairman who shares no relation with the candidate, said don't count the party out.

“Chet said if they couldn't beat me with the President on the ballot, they couldn't beat me any other way,” Taylor said. “We'll just have to see.”

I appreciate Professor Myers' optimism, and I share it to an extent, but CD17 is a really red district, and Arlene Wohlgemuth was a really baggage-laden candidate. Edwards has many strengths, and he won't leave anything on the field, but his margin is tiny. It won't take too many of the 2004 crossovers to decide that the 2006 version of Not-Edwards is palatable to sink him. This one will keep me holding my breath until the returns are in.

Side note: Edwards has opened his home to a family of Katrina evacuees.

As most evacuees in Texas are sleeping in shelters, hotels and living rooms, one family left homeless by the storm has settled comfortably into a congressional bedroom.

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, has opened his usually vacant three-bedroom in Waco home to Johnnie Marchand and her family.

Marchand left her home in Algiers, across from the Mississippi River from New Orleans, and has a son, daughter and two grandchildren. They ended up at a Baptist church in Waco, and she accepted Edward's offer to stay in his home when she met him last Saturday.

She said she had no idea at the time Edwards was a congressman.

Via Eye on Williamson.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 13, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

Baylor ChancellorRobert Sloan is reportedly eyeing getting into the race. He is a beloved local figure in Waco and if he chooses to run, he will be very difficult to defeat both in the primary and the general election.

Posted by: Aaron on September 13, 2005 3:23 PM