October 02, 2007
A Republican identifies their top targets

Burka talks to a Republican operative and gets a peek at who the Rs are looking to target next year.

I had lunch last week with a Republican friend who is very much involved in the campaign season. No, not Eppstein. Every time I write something like this people say I'm just a conduit for Eppstein. There are other smart guys out there, you know.

Anyway, my RF said a number of interesting things about the House races.

1. The three most vulnerable Ds, in his view, are Juan Garcia (very Republican district), Allen Vaught (also a Republican district and Bill Keffer is working this time), and Robbie Cook (close district, close race last time).
2. After that, he's pretty pessimistic. The other WD-40s? "Can't beat 'em. Homer, Hopson, McReynolds, Farabee."
3. He expects the Ds to field an opponent against every R in Dallas County.
4. He blames Karl Rove for the Republicans' loss of support, nationally and in Texas, and he's furious about it.

One presumes that his "vulnerable" list isn't comprehensive - surely there are a few other Ds that the GOP think they might be able to take down. Having said that, color me shocked that the name Joe Heflin didn't trip off his tongue. Heflin's a freshman in a district that's redder than Garcia's and Cook's - Vaught's district is really in a different class - and in a part of the state that the GOP owns. I have to think this is an oversight - if not, it's a pretty stunning admission of Heflin's strength as a candidate.

I don't know how much editing of his RF's remarks Burka made, but I also find it curious that only two of the Dems who have won seats since 2004 were mentioned. I can understand skipping over Travis County folks like Strama, Howard, and Bolton, but where's Paula Hightower Pierson on their priority list? What about Ellen Cohen, for whom there still isn't even a rumor of opposition, or David Leibowitz? Or Hubert Vo, who's finally running against someone not named Talmadge Heflin? Maybe he's keeping that up his sleeve, maybe it's not his style to give blue-sky scenarios, or maybe he just doesn't think any of these are within reach. Again, considering how all these districts were drawn in 2001 by Republicans for the purpose of electing Republicans, that sure says a lot to me.

One final thought, which I mentioned in a comment to this subsequent Burka post about Hillary Clinton supposedly being a downballot drag for Democrats. It seems to me that if this were really something the Rs believed, they'd back it up by finding and promising to finance a raft of State House candidates, not just against all the Dems I've named above but also against folks like Hubert Vo, Pete Gallego, Jim Dunnam, and most of the South Texas contingent. If having Hillary atop the ticket is going to be such a boon for them, why not take full advantage and challenge everyone who could remotely be considered vulnerable? Yet instead we're talking about the Dems running against every Republican in Dallas County. As someone who thinks the Democrats blew a golden chance to make bigger gains in the favorable environment that 2006 was for them, it's amusing to contemplate that the Republicans might be about to do the same thing. Or maybe it just more evidence that all the "Hillary will save us!" talk is still a load of hot air.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 02, 2007 to Election 2008

I keep hearing rumblings from Republican judges in Harris County, too. They are definitely worried they're going to be swept out on a Democratic wave election.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on October 2, 2007 9:16 AM