Just a few quick thoughts before the 24 premiere. I'm always happy to see bad news for Tom DeLay, but this poll (survey, really - if I understand the distinction correctly, a poll would be weighted by partisan ID and other factors) was taken at a bad time for him, and there's a lot of events to be played out between now and November. I disagree with the notion that an acquittal in Travis County will be his ticket to reelection - among other things, there's still the Abramoff matter, and even an acquittal may be too late to undo some of the damage against DeLay. He's clearly toast if he gets convicted, but as long as l'affaire Abramoff is hanging over his head, he's not out of the woods.
I want to discuss Cragg Hines' column about Steve Stockman and the possible effect he could have on the race. Here's Hines:
At first glance, the presence of archconservative Stockman in the race would seem to be yet another blow to indictee DeLay's chances of hanging on for a 12th term. But if you narrow your eyes just a touch, that's not how a multicandidate race necessarily looks.
Not to bring "stalking horse" into the debate, but suffice it to say that Stockman's main target is former Rep. Nick Lampson, who has shifted his political operation a bit to the west and will be the Democratic nominee against DeLay. Stockman confirmed in a Fox News interview last week his intention "to go after Lampson like a pit bull." (The transcript was provided by a Democratic source after Fox proved unaccommodating.)
Stockman would have an improved shot with a seemingly nonviable DeLay candidacy wrapped albatross-like around the Republican Party's neck. But if DeLay, say, shifted his legal residence to his Washington-area address (or any other beyond the Texas line), the State Republican Executive Committee would likely, until the Aug. 25 cutoff, replace him. It would probably pick some GOP up-and-comer rather than urge a vote for the politically snakebit Stockman, who, if elected, could associate with the Republican House contingent and reclaim old party ties.
Stockman currently is director of the Campus Leadership Program of a right-wing outfit with headquarters in Arlington, Va., a Washington suburb. A receptionist put me through last week to Stockman's office, where I reached his voice mail and left a message that was not returned.
The CLP is a branch of the Leadership Institute, whose Web site says the group "prepares conservatives for success in politics, government and the news media." It's the brainchild of Morton C. Blackwell, a member of the Republican National Committee from Virginia.
Are you getting a whiff of something funny?
Let's back up a minute. Will Stockman, now 49, really get in the race? So far, all he's done is file a declaration of intent with the Texas secretary of state. It was a spectral enough development that Houston-area bloggers wondered whether it was "the Steve Stockman."
If DeLay is still on the ropes, May 11 is a day Republicans will await warily, fearing the presence of any non-Democratic candidate to whom conservative voters can throw an anti-DeLay vote.
Democrats are more interested in Aug. 25, which, according to the secretary of state's office, is the last day on which a candidate can withdraw and be taken off the ballot.
Those two dates could give Stockman more than three months as a candidate to slam away at Lampson and then possibly withdraw, to DeLay's benefit.
Ultimately, there are three ways Stockman can achieve his goal of pounding on Lampson in an effective way. One is via the right-wing press, including blogs. It's free, but I can't see him reaching many potential swayable Lampson voters that way. Two is by spending money on ads and mailers. If that's his intention, I still don't understand why he wouldn't just form a 527 to do it, and thus avoid any possible ballot confusion. And three is getting mainstream press attention, which his status as a former Congressman and full-time kook may allow him to do. I hope that once the novelty wears off that Stockman will be treated like the sideshow freak he is, but I've no doubt that he'll say or do whatever he has to in order to ensure that he can't be ignored.
All right, I think 24 is starting, so I'm going to end this. If Stockman can pull 11% in a poll taken in, say, March, then maybe he needs to be taken more seriously. Until then, I hope this is the last I'll feel compelled to write about him.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 15, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack