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Morrison gears up

I’m a bit behind Greg and Byron in noting that Richard Morrison is more or less gearing up already for a rematch with Tom DeLay in 2006. That may sound a bit extreme, getting started so soon, but it’s entirely in line with the thinking of Mustafa Tameez, one of the architects of Hubert Vo‘s upset victory this year:

If you are running for a state representative office or a local district city council or a small public office, people have to feel like—whether I am a Republican or a Democrat—I know that guy, and by my knowing that guy, I have access to government. That is how you get people to cross party lines. That takes longer. I think campaigns can’t start after Labor Day anymore. From a candidate’s standpoint, if you are going to be running for office for a state-representative type of race—you need to start a year ahead of time.

That was a big part of Morrison’s strategy in 2004, and he had a fair amount of success with it (more on that in a minute). It’s got to be a key part of a repeat engagement, and it’s got to be a bigger success this time around. Starting early makes a lot of sense in that context.

The other key feature, of course, is money. Morrison raised a fair bit of cash from small donors, but had nowhere near the dough to keep up with DeLay. This time around, as a known quantity, he ought to be able to get some bigger players to kick in. It’s hard to say how much action there will be at the Congressional level in Texas next year – surely the GOP will gun for Chet Edwards again, but beyond that it’s pretty much up to the Democrats to make something happen. With no redistricted incumbents to draw all the attention and capital, Morrison should have a shot at evening things up a bit.

Which is a big deal, as Ruy Teixeira notes, pointing to new research which claims money and not redistricting is the prime factor in creating competition in Congressional races. TX-22 is not a high-risk Republican district in the sense that it was carried comfortably by President Bush, but it is an opportunity because of Morrison’s strong overperformance relative to that.

How strongly did he overperform? I’ve compared precinct data for the DeLay/Morrison race to the Bush/Kerry race (and some other races where applicable) for three of the four counties in CD-22: Galveston, Fort Bend, and Harris (Brazoria County doesn’t have precinct level data online as far as I could tell). The numbers are pretty striking. For the Galveston County precincts contained within CD22:

Candidate Vote Total Vote Pct =============================== DeLay 9193 42.62 Morrison 12377 57.38 Bush 11188 49.73 Kerry 11311 50.27

For Fort Bend (see also here):

Candidate Vote Total Vote Pct =============================== DeLay 58444 55.88 Morrison 46151 44.12 Bush 70489 63.38 Kerry 40730 36.62

And for Harris:

Candidate Vote Total Vote Pct =============================== DeLay 64590 60.72 Morrison 41778 39.28 Bush 74427 67.47 Kerry 35884 32.53

(Spreadsheets, which include comparisons to some other candidates in Fort Bend and Harris, are here: Galveston, Fort Bend, Harris.)

Basically, Morrison outperformed John Kerry – or, if you prefer, DeLay underperformed Bush – by seven points in each county in the two-party totals. He certainly has growth potential, as DeLay’s little capitulation on the DeLay Rule is far from the end of his ethical problems, and one would hope he won’t have the distraction of multiple third-party challengers. It’s certainly possible that he’s hit a plateau, and even if not he’ll still need a lot of things to break his way, but I think he’s got as good a chance as anyone of being 2006’s version of Melissa Bean. With that in mind, if you want to help him hit the ground running, here’s where to go.

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  1. Stephen Benet says:

    In your last sentence, it’s not clear who “he” refers to, Delay or Morrison. So I’ll just choose to read it this way: “With that in mind, if you want to help Delay hit the ground, here’s where to go.”

  2. Boadicea says:

    Or, if you want to hit Delay with a baseball bat, line up behind me.

    I kid. I kid, Tommy boy. You gonna have the staff sic the Capitol Police on me?

  3. It is worth noting:

    A. Around July, a decision was made not to allow Morrison’s campagin staff (Mecury Campaigns) to conduct any business in Fort Bend County after a series of humiliating faux-pas. A pseudo-rump ogranization ( is soley responsible for the over-performance in Fort Bend. Contanct this organization and find out more. They can provide you with all sorts of neat numbers, as they are one of the most impressive and technologically sophisticated Democrat BoosterGroups/PAC’s in Texas.

    B. Richard’s people blew off Fort Bend, and spent all their time in Harris county, especially Clear Lake and Galveston, where they performed horribly. They wrote off Fort Bend entirely, and claimed the race could be won without it. (That is a direct quote from campaign manager Nathan Wilcox).

    C. Your point about “DeLay underperforming Bush” cannot be stressed enough.

  4. John Cobarruvias says:

    I think the campaign for a rookie was pretty good, not great, and not a winning one, obviously.

    It needs to be GREAT. With professional guidance. It doesn’t need a bunch of know it alls coming from alll different parts of the district. The campaign needs a lone, professional, and stategic manager with focus and with the ability to work across the district.

    Yep. There are things to work on.

    Richard has a lot going for him, but if he is the candidate, he needs professional help in the campaign stategy as well as presentation.

    My personal opinion is that he can win.