Despite Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R) resounding ’06 win, one TX Dem insider says Dems are hopeful that a strong challenger to Sen. John Cornyn (R) will still emerge. The Dem claims Cornyn “has significantly lower approval rating” than Hutchison and that Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) plurality win shows the TX GOP base is only 40% of voters. However the Dem concedes that a credible challenger would have to start raising money right now for what could be a $12M campaign.
Already mentioned as possibilities are ’98/’02 LG nominee/ex-Comp. John Sharp (D) and Houston Mayor Bill White (D), but ex-Rep. Jim Turner (D) still has over $1M CoH left over. There are “rumblings” about Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-28) running, and ’02 nominee/ex-Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk’s (D) name gets batted around occasionally too (Hotline reporting, 11/21).
I feel like John Sharp’s day has come and gone, but we’ll leave that discussion for the future. I see Mayor White as a 2010 gubernatorial candidate, not a Senate candidate – like most CEO types, I think he’s more comfortable in an executive role. Who knows about Turner and Kirk? I think they get mentioned because someone has to.
But Cuellar, now there’s a name I hadn’t heard before. I’m not going to claim I’m a big fan, but along the same lines as what I wrote when CD23 was redrawn, the simple fact of the matter is that Cuellar would be a huge step up from Cornyn. Further, the guy has shown he can win elections, and he’ll drive turnout in South Texas, where Dems will need a lot of votes to compete. They certainly love him in Webb County, where his total exceeded the next highest Dem’s by almost 1000 votes. He’s not my first choice, but I think he’d give Cornyn a hell of a race.
For that reason, I reject Kos‘ assertion that a Cuellar candidacy would be a sign of “real trouble” for the Dems. If nothing else, seeing anotherviable candidate on the usual list of same-old-same-olds is cause for celebration in and of itself. And if, as Greg notes, Cuellar’s desire to run stateside prompts him to help his erstwhile friend Ciro Rodriguez in the CD23 runoff, so much the better.