Continuing with my series of reports on how Harris County candidates did this year, I'd like to focus on three State Rep candidates who clearly exceeded the baseline Democratic performance of their districts.
We'll start in HD129, where Sherrie Matula provided John Davis' first Democratic challenge since 1998, an election that Davis won with over 70% of the vote.
Matula Pct SW Avg SW Pct CW Avg CW Pct
14,379 42.31 +3,037 +7.80 +1,189 +4.76
It should be noted that this district was about as red as it was in 2004, when it was basically a two-to-one GOP area. The high Democratic score then was Kathy Stone's 35%. The baseline, which clocked in at 37.55% for county candidates, clearly inched up some, to which I'd credit Lampson and Matula, a little bit of demographics, and the overall climate. Everything Matula accomplished was done on a miniscule budget. She worked this the old fashioned way, by being everywhere and talking to everyone. In a higher turnout year, with a real campaign warchest, who knows what might happen? Among other things, Davis is rumored to be looking at SD11, where incumbent Mike Jackson is rumored to be retiring. This is a district that won't look terribly competitive based on the raw numbers, but should be treated as though it is for Matula's expected second go-round. It's definitely within range.
Cohen Pct SW Avg SW Pct CW Avg CW Pct
25,180 55.75 +5,545 +9.86 +4,743 +7.33
The thing to keep in mind with Cohen is that even with her big bucks, and even with Martha Wong's godawful campaign, she still had to be at least an above average candidate to win. HD134 is still Republican turf, even if it's less so than it once was. As I said before, of the 29 candidates who were on the ballot everywhere in HD134 (*), only six Democrats carried it (Henley, Moody, Sharp, Green, and R. Garcia being the other five; Matula's level of performance would have been more than enough to win as well). Cohen made it look easy, but don't let that fool you. She worked for it, and she earned it. Though I expect the Republicans to mount a serious challenge to her in 2008, I think this seat is hers for as long as she respects and votes the district.
And as good as Ellen Cohen was, she still wasn't the top performer in Harris County. That honor goes to Diane Trautman in HD127.
Trautman Pct SW Avg SW Pct CW Avg CW Pct
14,297 40.78 +4,200 +11.36 +3,303 +8.53
Another way of looking at it is this: Trautman lost this deep red district by 6,461 votes. There were 11,265 straight-ticket Republican ballots cast, and 5,210 straight-ticket Dem ballots, meaning that straight-ticket voting accounts for all but 406 votes of her deficit. Everybody else lost by at least 10,000 votes, meaning they lost the non-straight-party voters by at least 4000. Given that there were about 20,000 non-straight-ticket ballots, that means she ran close to even where everyone else was losing at least 60-40. Any way you approach it, what she did was just mind-boggling. Oh, and she would have won HDs 133, 134, 138, and 144 at this level of performance.
As with Matula and HD129, this is a district that has no right to be competitive. It too saw its Democratic performance tick up a bit, but given that it was at about 28% in 2004, it's hard to imagine otherwise. Still, it did increase by about four points at the county level, and I can't help but think that Trautman was a big part of that. Unlike Matula and Cohen, it's not known yet if she'll try again in 2008. Joe Crabb has also had retirement rumors surround him for awhile; given how much he's disliked, that may not be a good thing from a Democratic campaign perspective. Frankly, I could make a pretty good case for Trautman to try a different race, one that would be a bit more winnable - City Council District E leaps to mind, as Addie Wiseman is term-limited. Hell, she'd probably give Ted Poe or State Sen. Tommy Williams a good run for their money. Whatever she tries, if she does decide to have another go, she'll be formidable.
Next up: The targets for 2008.
(*) - As is my habit with these analyses, I'm excluding the four-headed Governor's race from consideration, as it's too weird to add much of value. That said, Chris Bell was the high votegetter among the gubernatorials in HD134 - he got 36.5% of the vote there to Rick Perry's 32.8%, with Strayhorn (17.3) and Friedman (13.3) much farther back.Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 04, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack