I was forwarded an email about a fundraiser for Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill earlier today. I could whine about Texas being everybody's donor state, but this happens all the time around the country. Besides, McCaskill is a strong candidate with a real shot at knocking off the incumbent Republican Jim Talent; Rasmussen has her leading by three points, with the rolling three month average tied at 43-43. This is a seat the Dems need if they want to take back the Senate, or at least narrow the gap. So I'm not bothered by that.
What does bug me is seeing the names Ben and Melanie Barnes at the top of the host list. If you search for the Barneses on the TEC contributions page, you'll see that they've given a lot of money to fellow Democrats over the past several years. They've also contributed over $70,000 to one Carole Keeton Strayhorn since December of 2002, with the most recent donation being $10K on December 28, 2005. Which makes me ask why, in a year where the incumbent Republican Governor is polling at 40% and less everywhere you look, are they not supporting Chris Bell?
Now maybe they just don't like Bell. If so, that's their choice. What I suspect, though, given that Barnes had been rumored to be playing footsie with Kay Bailey Hutchison a year ago, is that he's bought into the idea that only another Republican can take down Rick Perry. You can slice the math however you want, but we all know that Strayhorn can't beat Perry without significant Democratic support - I've lost the link, but I believe Royal Masset calculated it at 30%. But with Perry polling within hailing frequency of Gene Kelly/Marty Akins numbers, why would the Democrats want to go anywhere else? When do we think we'll next get a shot at the Governor's mansion against someone who polls like Perry? Do you think Governor Combs or Governor Dewhurst will have such anemic re-elect figures in 2014? Cause I sure don't.
You don't have to tell me that the Democrats are in a down cycle in Texas. What I'm telling you is that the surest way to exacerbate that cycle is to abandon the most winnable race we've seen since 1998 because you've swallowed the idea that there's no point in trying to win it with your own team. You want to see obituaries for the state Democratic Party? Watch what gets written on November 8 if Bell finishes third or (God forbid) fourth.
It's not just about this year, either. What happens in November will determine to a large extent whether or not Democrats run a real, properly-funded challenge against John Cornyn in 2008. Cornyn's approval rate is nothing to write home about, and he's generated a fair amount of campaign material in his first term for whoever does challenge him. If Bell wins or even comes close, I'd expect to see potential opponents for Cornyn lining up quickly. If not, well, we can always hope for KBH to retire in 2012, right?
It's a simple choice, really. Stand and fight, or run and hide. I don't know why Ben Barnes has chosen the former everywhere else but Texas. It's just a shame that he has.
UPDATE: You can add Tony Sanchez to the list of runners and hiders. All I can say is "ugh".Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 15, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack