October 13, 2005
GOP targets for the State House: HD03 and HD41

We're finally starting to see some GOP challenger action in the State House. The Quorum Report gives a two-sided look at HD03, which was one of the closest races from last year:

Former Franklin County GOP chairman Kirby Hollingsworth is planning another bid for House District 3, which will be his second attempt to unseat state Rep. Mark Homer (D-Paris).

Hollingsworth, 39, was defeated in the last election cycle by 218 votes in a race that attracted 48,444 voters from six counties. He said in 2004, he was considered an underdog and many folks in Austin – including the moneyed political action committees and GOP leaders – didn’t expect his campaign to come so close to edging out Homer. This time, he said, he’s got the 2004 legacy of grassroots support and he doesn’t feel like an underdog. He anticipates more Austin support in 2006.

"If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, ‘We just really didn’t know you had that great of a chance. But if you’ll run again, we’ll do everything we can to help’," Hollingsworth said he’s been told.

Equal time is then given:

State Rep. Mark Homer (D-Paris) in 2004 faced a ballot topped by Republican President George W. Bush and newly-minted GOP member Congressman Ralph Hall. Despite some straight-ticket GOP voting, Homer retained his seat, but it was a tight 218-vote margin over opponent Kirby Hollingsworth.

That year, the statewide voting index in House District 3 favored Republicans 71.7 percent over Democrats at 28.3 percent. But, in the 2002 race for lieutenant governor – often considered a solid benchmark of a region’s preferences – Democrat John Sharp carried the district 51.6 percent over current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at 48.4 percent.

The State House member pages finally have district election analyses from 2004 now - here's how it looks in HD03. If the statewide GOP index looks a bit high to you, it's because they appear to be including vote totals from all races, regardless of whether or not there was a candidate from each party on the ballot. This strikes me as less than useful, given that there were four statewide races in every district which featured no Democrat. If you do the math for the contested races in HD03 (which is what I've always done every time I've looked at a district), you get 145,444 R to 87,982 D, or 62.3% R to 37.7% D.

The key question is whether the 2004 result, with President Bush at the top of the ticket and practically zero statewide campaigning done by any Democrat, represents a highwater mark or the new reality. If it's the former, Homer is probably safe; if not, he's very vulnerable. I subscribe to the highwater theory, but that's more a guess than anything else. 2006 will definitely put that notion to the test.

Oh, and by the way, Homer ran unopposed in 2002. Think that might have cost Kirby Hollingsworth a few votes in 2004, since he was probably not as well-known in the district as he otherwise might have been? There are many reasons why some of us keep harping on that Run Everywhere concept.

Elsewhere, Rio Grande Valley Politics writes about HD41, where first-term Democrat Veronica Gonzales has several potential opponents lining up against her.

Although the 41st is currently held by a democrat, the House seat was redrawn to pack in voters from the affluent north McAllen and Sharyland areas. In the 2004 presidential race between Bush and Kerry, Bush won the 41st with 56.6% of the vote. The overall statewide ballots cast were 52% republican and 47% democrat. In 2002, the overall statewide ballots cast in the 41st were reversed; democrats took 52% of the vote while republicans took 47%.

Once again - highwater mark or new norm? Here's the election analysis for HD41. As before, disregard their statewide indices; counting only contested races, it's 79,498 R to 75,067 D in votes, or 51.4% R to 48.6% D (I'm not sure what method RGVP is using). Notice also that Gonzales, like her predecessor Roberto Gutierrez in 2002, ran unopposed last year.

QR mentions a couple of other races as well, and I'm sure we'll keep hearing about more of them as Filing Season approaches, so stay tuned. If I haven't made it clear already, this is going to be an interesting year.

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

The GOP is smart to target Veronica Gonzalez, one of the best reps in the House and a future contender for statewide office.

Posted by: Marie on October 13, 2005 2:43 PM