Though Stockman says he is running to win, most observers are watching him more for his potential as a â€œspoiler.â€ Most votes for Stockman presumably would come from DeLayâ€™s traditional conservative base, eroding the incumbentâ€™s structural advantage in a district that typically leans strongly Republican.
Stockman said the reaction to his campaign is â€œmixed,â€ but that many voters appear receptive to having an alternative to turmoil-plagued DeLay and Democrat Lampson. â€œWhile some Republicans are upset, some Democrats are upset, there are some people who are happy they have an option,â€ Stockman said.
Said Robert Stein, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston: â€œI think Steve Stockman, if heâ€™s collecting signatures, believes that either one, the congressman is going to be convicted and therefore unable to hold office, or two, that [DeLay] is weak enough in the electorate that [Stockman] might actually sneak in there in a three-way race.â€
Stockman said it was â€œwhistling past the grave a little bitâ€ and â€œnot prudentâ€ for Republicans to rally behind DeLay as their standard-bearer when the congressman has yet to go on trial on the state campaign finance charges.
Well, this makes more sense than the idea that he was running to help DeLay by acting as an anti-Lampson pit bull. Not that that was hard to do, because the running-to-help-DeLay made no sense at all. At least the concept of this idea makes sense, but only the concept. Stockman doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell if DeLay is on the ballot, and his odds are only slightly better in a two-way matchup. I say this because unlike Carole Strayhorn or Kinky Friedman, Stockman has no chance of peeling away any Democratic support, which means he’d have to take enough votes from DeLay to top the baseline Dem vote, which is about 37% going by 2004 results. Given that I fully expect Lampson to do better than Richard Morrison’s 41%, and that this would mean Stockman would require at least two thirds of the rest of the vote, you can see why I’m skeptical.
There’s also still the question of where Stockman is going to get the money to get his message out. Both Lampson and DeLay will have a barrage of ads on TV and radio, including ads run on their behalf by third parties, so unless Stockman can raise over a million dollars, I can’t see how he competes with that. Mailers ain’t gonna cut it.
Even if DeLay drops out, Stockman will need to work at getting the votes that the Hammer would have had, because he won’t get any straight-ticket GOP votes. With Strayhorn and Friedman likely to be on the ballot, this is as good a year as any for candidates to benefit from non-straight party voting, but it strikes me as a risk to depend on people doing things that they don’t normally do.
Finally, Stockman isn’t all that popular with the GOP establishment these days. Yes, as Greg notes, he did well in Fort Bend in the 1998 GOP primary for Railroad Commissioner, but since then he was involved in a nasty primary fight against Rep. John Culberson. I’m willing to bet there’s a lot of Republicans with long memories about that, especially in Harris County.
My assessment of Stockman hasn’t changed. I think he pulls about five percent, maybe a bit more if he can raise a few funds. Every vote he does get comes straight from Tom DeLay’s hide, so I certainly don’t mind if he does better than that. Under no circumstances do I see him as having a realistic chance to win this race.