November 11, 2006
The CD23 runoff

Hard to believe, but there's still an election of consequence for 2006 going on in Texas (*). I'm speaking of the runoff in CD23, where Rep. Henry Bonilla failed to crack 50% of the vote against a big slate of challengers. Here's how that race broke down:

Candidate Party Votes Pct
August G. "Augie" Beltran DEM 2,650 2.14%
Rick Bolanos DEM 2,563 2.07%
Henry Bonilla - Incumbent REP 60,147 48.60%
Adrian DeLeon DEM 2,198 1.78%
Lukin Gilliland DEM 13,725 11.09%
Ciro D. Rodriguez DEM 24,593 19.87%
Craig T. Stephens IND 3,344 2.70%
Albert Uresti DEM 14,529 11.74%

Basically, that's Bonilla 48.6, Not Bonilla 51.4, with the Democratic Not Bonillas totalling 48.7. Let's just say this one might come down to who gets their voters out.

According to Stace, who's going to be out there doing some work for runoff candidate Ciro Rodriguez, four of the five other Dems in this race plus the Independent have endorsed Ciro for the runoff.

Earlier Thursday, in the backroom of a South Side restaurant, three of the six onetime Democratic contenders and a stand-in for independent candidate Craig T. Stephens pledged their support to Rodriguez, who won 20 percent of the vote to Bonilla's 49 percent.

Among them was Alamo Heights businessman Lukin Gilliland Jr. He loaned himself $700,000 for the campaign and spent more than $1 million on the effort, but came away with only 11 percent of the votes.

"I have always, with the exception of this special election, supported Ciro," Gilliland said. Then he deadpanned: "I thought I was a better fit in this special election - apparently I was wrong."

He's donating his North Side campaign headquarters to Rodriguez, but the longtime Democratic fundraiser said they hadn't discussed whether he'd call potential contributors for Rodriguez.

Democrats Adrian DeLeon of Carrizo Springs and Rick Bolaños of El Paso also endorsed Rodriguez. Bolaños dropped out of the race last month, then threw his support behind Gilliland, calling him the candidate with the financial wherewithal to unseat Bonilla.

Rodriguez said Democrat August "Augie" Beltran also endorsed him but couldn't attend the news conference, emceed by Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio. Beltran couldn't be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Democrat Albert Uresti, a retired San Antonio district fire chief and brother of state senator-elect Carlos Uresti, was the only challenger of Bonilla's not to back Rodriguez.

"We're going to talk to our supporters and see what they want to do," said Uresti, who won nearly 12 percent, garnering about 800 more votes than Gilliland.

I can understand Uresti's reluctance. Ciro has not had a very good track record in recent elections, and he starts out considerably in the hole in terms of finances. There's also the unspoken implication that if Ciro fails to knock of Bonilla this year, someone else might be able to do it in 2008, with a full calendar and a proven blue district to work with. Various local Republicans faced that same dilemma in CD22 this year, but they managed to put up a pretty united front behind Shelley Sekula Gibbs when all was said and done. I don't expect it to last much longer now, but they held it together through Election Day, and that's what matters. They had more time to do that, which I suppose could be a blessing or a curse. The CD23 folks don't have that luxury.

I believe this race is winnable, and I hope that Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC have a little spare change left over to invest in it. It's basically a free shot, so why not make the effort? We'll see what happens.

(*) - Actually, there's two, as a special election for HD29 to replace the late Rep. Glenda Dawson is also on the agenda. Governor Perry hasn't set a date for either of these elections yet, so we don't know who will be in this race. But I do expect it to be reasonably high profile as well, especially given House Speaker Tom Craddick's more perilous situation.

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

Ciro needs all of our help to beat Bonilla and his 3 million dollar war chest funded by the big pharmacuetical companies and other corporate donors. Let's make this a combination of grassroots and netroots efforts to help kick Bonilla to the curb.

Posted by: Texicano on November 12, 2006 11:17 AM