February 22, 2008
Early voting and the fate of a Craddick D

Philip Martin takes a look at one of the important local primaries, between Craddick D Rep. Kevin Bailey and TPA-endorsed challenger Armando Walle in HD140.

Bailey's support is isolated to long time residents who have supported him since he was first elected, but even these voters will be in question due to Congressman Gene Green's strong support of Walle. The conventional wisdom is that low voter turnout (an anemic 1,300 voters in the 2006 Democratic primary) has been his strongest electoral asset as an office holder. Bailey's been counting on Craddick et al. for his financial support, receiving a $25,000 contribution from Texans for Lawsuit Reform in January in addition to the above mentioned Craddick money. But as Ron Wilson and Talmadge Heflin have both proven in Harris County, you can have all the money in the world and still lose for your ties to Tom Craddick.

Walle's been blockwalking since October of last year, and a strong, serious grassroots effort by his campaign to reach out to new voters and increase Hispanic turnout, combined with the gigantic turnout predicted for Harris County as the Obama and Hillary campaigns come rolling through Texas (up ninefold in the first day of early voting compared to 2006), means Kevin Bailey is in serious trouble.

2006 isn't necessarily a good comparison, due to it being a non-Presidential year, though Bailey had a primary challenger then. But even in the 2004 primary, running unopposed, Bailey got just over 1200 votes. It's not like he as a deep well of support out there.

And the early voting numbers so far portend some real potential peril for Bailey. After just two days of early voting, 322 ballots have been cast by HD140 residents on the Democratic side. That's one fourth of the entire final total for each of 2004 and 2006. On top of that, I took a scan at the names of those 322 people. By my count, 157 of them have Hispanic surnames. That's 48% of the voters there so far. I might be a tad bit concerned about that if I were Kevin Bailey.

Now, that comes with several caveats. Being Hispanic is not an assurance of a vote for Armando Walle. While Walle captured many of the local group endorsements, Bailey has the support of the AFL-CIO, so if any of those Hispanic-surname folks are union members, they may well be in Bailey's camp. And while Hillary Clinton might be drawing Hispanic voters to the polls, there's no guarantee any of them, especially the non-regular primary voters, may be going down the ballot. Some 22% of the HD140 primary voters in 2004 skipped that race; who knows how many will this time. Be that as it may, the point remains: If I were Kevin Bailey, I'd be concerned right about now. But as I'm not, I'm happy to point this out. We'll see how it goes.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 22, 2008 to Election 2008