Garnder Selby considers the state of the Senate race in Texas.
Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of The Cook Political Report, says: “Given how poor the national political climate is for Republicans, it’s hard to completely write off any Democrat.”
Still, she says, “this is an uphill climb. It is notoriously difficult for candidates of either party to get well-known in a state with 19 media markets, 32 congressional districts and at least 7.4 million general election voters.”
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, “spent $5.7 million in her barely contested race in 2006, and Cornyn spent about $10 million in 2002, and he had already been elected statewide,” Duffy says. “Cornyn’s (poll) numbers aren’t stellar … but he will be tough to beat.”
Duffy plans to keep watching.
“What national Democrats want to see is how much money he can raise,” she says. “They have no intention of pouring money into the state if Noriega can’t raise a fairly sizable chunk.”
At the end of March, Noriega’s campaign had $330,000 in campaign cash on hand, a sliver of Cornyn’s $8.7 million.
Historical note: No Democrat has won a Texas U.S. Senate race since 1988. Maybe it’s fair to speculate that Noriega is warming up to seek statewide office in 2010.
Yet he has time to gain traction if he raises enough money and smartly defines himself while raising doubts about Cornyn.
In a sign of optimism, or naïveté, Noriega raised his post-primary fundraising goal from $5 million to $10 million. He’s hired a fundraising chief who once corralled cash for Ann Richards. He’s also brought aboard a Web marketing firm credited with helping Sen. James Webb of Virginia win a seat in 2006.
A look at his campaign kitty after the quarter ending June 30 should show if he’s on track to give Cornyn a scare.
Selby has more on that $10 million goal here. I have to say, I wish Noriega were a lot farther along towards that goal than he is now. It’s not from lack of effort that he doesn’t have more cash, and it’s not from lack of excitement about his candidacy, as his ActBlue totals will attest. I think it’s a combination of too much focus on the Presidential primary and too little faith – still! – among the big money types here that a statewide win is a real possibility. It always seemed, back in 2006, that the grand plan (read: the reason why none of them were supporting statewide candidates that year) was to try to win things back in 2010. I suppose nothing has really changed since then. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe Noriega’s second quarter numbers will tell a different story – I sure hope so.
In the meantime, I note in Selby’s story that Larry LaRocco, the Democratic candidate for Senate from Idaho, was in Austin for a fundraiser. LaRocco is well regarded by the national netroots, and thanks to outgoing Sen. Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, that seat is competitive in a way it would never otherwise be. But know this: Anyone at that event who calls himself a Texas Democrat and who hasn’t contributed to Rick Noriega is someone who needs to check his priorities. It’s long past time for us Democrats here to put funding our own candidates’ races ahead of everyone else’s.
On that note, I want to say that I’m glad to hear that CD10 candidate Larry Joe Doherty has been added to the Blue Majority PAC candidate list. The Blue Majority folks – Howie Klein, FireDogLake and others – have been good about seeing Texas as an opportunity for Democratic gains; they have also been generous in supporting Rick Noriega, and I thank them for that. I had endorsed Dan Grant in the CD10 primary, but now that November is what matters, I’m happy to help out Larry Joe Doherty, and I hope you will as well. LJD’s chat with the FireDogLake folks is here, so take a look and get to know him if you haven’t already.
Finally, to get back to the Senate race for a minute, last week a couple of our blogging colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are doing their thing for John Cornyn apparently noticed that Rick Noriega is of Mexican ancestry. Hilarity ensued. See BOR and Dos Centavos for more.