November 24, 2006
Cuellar for Senate?

The Hotline offers up an intriguing new possibility for the 2008 Senate race against John "Box Turtle" Cornyn.


Despite Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's (R) resounding '06 win, one TX Dem insider says Dems are hopeful that a strong challenger to Sen. John Cornyn (R) will still emerge. The Dem claims Cornyn "has significantly lower approval rating" than Hutchison and that Gov. Rick Perry's (R) plurality win shows the TX GOP base is only 40% of voters. However the Dem concedes that a credible challenger would have to start raising money right now for what could be a $12M campaign.

Already mentioned as possibilities are '98/'02 LG nominee/ex-Comp. John Sharp (D) and Houston Mayor Bill White (D), but ex-Rep. Jim Turner (D) still has over $1M CoH left over. There are "rumblings" about Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-28) running, and '02 nominee/ex-Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk's (D) name gets batted around occasionally too (Hotline reporting, 11/21).


I feel like John Sharp's day has come and gone, but we'll leave that discussion for the future. I see Mayor White as a 2010 gubernatorial candidate, not a Senate candidate - like most CEO types, I think he's more comfortable in an executive role. Who knows about Turner and Kirk? I think they get mentioned because someone has to.

But Cuellar, now there's a name I hadn't heard before. I'm not going to claim I'm a big fan, but along the same lines as what I wrote when CD23 was redrawn, the simple fact of the matter is that Cuellar would be a huge step up from Cornyn. Further, the guy has shown he can win elections, and he'll drive turnout in South Texas, where Dems will need a lot of votes to compete. They certainly love him in Webb County, where his total exceeded the next highest Dem's by almost 1000 votes. He's not my first choice, but I think he'd give Cornyn a hell of a race.

For that reason, I reject Kos' assertion that a Cuellar candidacy would be a sign of "real trouble" for the Dems. If nothing else, seeing anotherviable candidate on the usual list of same-old-same-olds is cause for celebration in and of itself. And if, as Greg notes, Cuellar's desire to run stateside prompts him to help his erstwhile friend Ciro Rodriguez in the CD23 runoff, so much the better.

Oh, and the reason that "Democrats claim" Cornyn has significantly lower approval ratings" than Hutchison is because it's true. Compare for yourself.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 24, 2006 to Election 2008 | TrackBack
Comments

My first reaction (upon reading your headline) was similar to yours. CD28 can do better than Cuellar, but he may be just right (ahem) for a Texas statewide race like the U.S. Senate.

If he runs for Congress again, he'll probably face another challenge - and this time he'll have an even tougher fight on his hands. But for now, at least, a conservative like Cuellar is probably the only kind of Democrat who can win a statewide race in Texas.

In fact, we liberals may have even done him a favor by challenging him and inoculating him somewhat against the Rovian "He's a Democrat; therefore, he's too liberal" attacks Texas Democrats can normally expect.

The big question would be: who should we vote for in case of, say, a Turner/Cuellar primary? Most Dems would probably prefer a moderate conservative like Turner to the staunchly conservative Cuellar. But most of the state probably feels otherwise.

Should we hold our noses and vote for Cuellar, for a greater chance of defeating Cornyn? (Only in Texas could someone like Jim Turner be seen as a Nader-like spoiler!)

Posted by: Mathwiz on November 24, 2006 2:38 PM

Sorry, Mathwiz, but you better crunch the numbers again on CD 28. Cuellar is basically going to be there as long as he wants.

I am glad to see that Kos is against a Cuellar Senate run, since Kos' endorsement is the kiss of death. I can't see Cuellar running, though. It would be a big gamble for Cuellar and there is still too much bad blood out there from the primaries. He still has to cut his teeth as a Congressman before taking a shot at the Senate. But, as you say, Kuff, Cuellar has proven he can campaign and win. I bet he would win the primary, but I am not sure he could take the general election. Unitl the odds look better for a statewide Democrat, I can't see a sitting Congressman rushing to get into a Senate race.

Posted by: Chito on November 24, 2006 10:01 PM

Sorry, Mathwiz, but you better crunch the numbers again on CD 28. Cuellar is basically going to be there as long as he wants.

Chito--Seriously, what are your numbers in a hypothetical match up between Cuellar and Raymond in 2008? Keep in mind that Republicans in Guadalupe and Wilson will be far less likely to vote in a Democratic primary, like they have been doing, when their vote could decide the Republican presidential nominee.

I am glad to see that Kos is against a Cuellar Senate run, since Kos' endorsement is the kiss of death.

Yes, I'm sure Jim Webb, John Tester, Claire McCaskell, Stephanie Herseth, Ben Chandler, and Barrack Obama surely feel dead after Kos threw his support behind them.

I can't see Cuellar running, though. It would be a big gamble for Cuellar and there is still too much bad blood out there from the primaries.

We finally agree on something.

But, as you say, Kuff, Cuellar has proven he can campaign and win.

Sure in a district that was drawn for him, Cuellar has proven he can win. Whoppee!

Posted by: blank on November 25, 2006 4:53 PM

Cornyn is high on my "must remove" list. He was one of the bad boys on the torture issue, and is a total Bush lapdog. Personally, I'd like to see Lampson flush ol' Cornyn down the political toilet. You know, like a Texas troubleshooter. First, take down Delay, then go after Cornyn. What a hero he would be.

Posted by: [email protected] on November 27, 2006 4:56 PM

Cuellar has run 4 times in three congressional districts, winning three and barely losing the fourth. That track record speaks for itself. Raymond is an excellent public speaker and a very good politician...definitely Cuellar's most serious threat. He would be a great statewide Democratic candidate. But Raymond tested the waters against Cuellar in 2006 and decided against a run. Raymond has the support of key individuals in Webb County, but I just don't think his support is as deep as Cuellar's...he doesn't have the roots in CD 28 that Cuellar does. As for Republican voters, they are a non-factor in South Texas Democratic primaries, despite what the Daily Kos posters believe.

Posted by: Chito on November 28, 2006 9:34 AM

Kos really dissappoints me when it comes to his understanding of the Southern political landscape. Cuellar would be a great statewide candidate and so would Lampson. A Democratic statewide elected official is not going to look or act like a Dem in other states, but we have to start somewhere. And, as a long shot, I must mention that there is one member of congress that is simply loaded, he knows how to raise money and he has had previous statewide campaign experience...Lloyd Doggett

Posted by: Ben on December 15, 2006 12:42 PM