January 06, 2006
Filing news: Republican missed opportunities

Having looked at Democratic missed opportunities in the State House filings yesterday, it's time to take a look and see where the Republicans dropped the ball. I'm going by the candidate filings page on the state GOP website, which is still missing just about all candidates from Harris County but as far as I can tell is otherwise complete. If I'm mistaken in any of this, please let me know.

One thing to keep in mind is that there are just not as many seats for the Republicans to target. Why should there be? They've already won just about every seat they wanted - that's the point of being the map-drawer. By my count, and according to the Kronberg spreadsheet, while there were 40 GOP-held seats in which John Sharp scored at least 40% of the vote in 2002, there were only 24 Dem-held seats where Dewhurst scored 40% or better. As we saw yesterday, of those 40 seats, Democrats have challengers in 28 of them, leaving 12 uncontested, with five of those twelve being realistic opportunities and the others being at best longshots.

Overall, only 16 Dem-held seats have GOP challengers - 13 incumbents and 3 open seats. Those seats are:

Dist Incumbent 2004 % DD%
03 Mark Homer 50.2 48
11 Chuck Hopson 52.7 52
17 Robby Cook 54.8 50
35 Y Gonzalez Toureilles 50.9 40
38 Open (Solis) 100.0 36
45 Patrick Rose 54.6 48
50 Mark Strama 50.5 48
69 David Farabee 53.0 59
85 Open (Laney) 58.8 52
111 Yvonne Davis 100.0 29
117 David Leibowitz 50.7 45
118 Open (Uresti) 56.8 43
125 Joaquin Castro 100.0 43
137 Scott Hochberg 56.6 48
143 Ana Hernandez 100.0 30
149 Hubert Vo 50.1 55

As before "2004%" is the vote percentage the incumbent got in 2004 and "DD %" is Dewhurst's 2002 percentage in that district. Just about all of these are races you'd want to be in if you're the GOP - only Yvonne Davis is a real outlier. HD38 is open and Ana Hernandez has only held HD143 since December; as Stace has noted, both GOP challengers there are party-switchers who lost (badly) to Hernandez in the free-form special election.

This also confirms my suspicion that the claim of 15 challenged incumbents isn't quite right. It's only 13 - add that to the three open seats and the 87 Republican-held districts, and you get the specified total of 103 GOP candidates. Given the spottiness of the GOP filings page, it's understandable that there could be a little confusion.

So then. Which seats did the GOP leave at the table?

Dist Incumbent 2004 % DD% GB% SW%
01 Stephen Frost 52.8 48 62 54
21 Allan Ritter 100.0 51 63 55
23 Craig Eiland 100.0 45 50 44
33 Vilma Luna 100.0 41 54 46
34 Abel Herrero 55.0 43 55 48
41 Veronica Gonzales 100.0 46 57 51
57 Jim Dunnam 58.4 43 56 47
74 Pete Gallego 100.0 40 61 52
79 Joe Pickett 66.6 42 47 41
124 Jose Menendez 100.0 41 51 45

As above, "2004%" is the vote percentage the incumbent got in 2004, DD% is Dewhurst's 2002 percentage, GB% is Bush's 2004 total, and SW% is an average of the percentages gotten by the other three GOP statewide candidates.

Again, some of these are better opportunities than others. Eiland, Pickett, and Menendez would qualify as stretches, with Luna and teh freshman Herrero being not far behind. Note the great disparity in some of these districts between the share of the vote gotten by GWB and that achieved by the other three Republican statewides. This is a big part of the reason why I believe 2004 represented more of a highwater mark for the GOP, especially in heavily Hispanic parts of the state, than it did a new plateau. I don't think you can adequately judge the partisan index of any House or Senate district by Bush's 2004 percentage alone.

I've already discussed Frost, Ritter, Gonzales, and Dunnam, so I'll just add that seeing Pete Gallego here was a bit of a surprise. Given the fairly strong Republican performance in HD74, and given than Gallego, like Dunnam, is a member of the House Democratic leadership, you'd think there'd be an extra incentive for the state GOP to target him. Confident as I am that he'd have withstood such a challenge, I'm glad he avoided it, as this will allow him to concentrate on getting his colleagues reelected and maybe helping a few challengers.

So there you have it. I think that about exhausts the subject of House filings for me, unless there's something you think I still need to look at. Hope this was useful for you.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 06, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack