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March 09, 2004

Texas Congressional Preview

By Byron LaMasters

Today, more congressional races will be effectively decided than any other day until the November election. Over the next few hours, I'll preview all of the 32 congressional races in Texas, and what will be decided in today's primaries. The returns will be available here begining at 7 PM CST.

Here we go (candidate lists via the Secretary of State, I = Incumbent):

CD 1: Democrat Max Sandlin (I) vs. Republicans Wayne Christian, Louis Gohmert, John Graves, Emily Mathews, Larry Thornton Administration or Lyle Thorstenson.

Max Sandlin is the incumbent who has won by relatively solid margins in east Texas since his first election in 1996. While popular among independent voters in northeast Texas, Sandlin lost many counties such as Bowie (Texarkana) where he was popular, and the heavily Republican Smith and Gregg Counties (Tyler and Longview) were added to the district. The district went from 60% GOP index (voting age population) to 65% in redistricting. Sandlin will face the victor of the GOP primary, most likely either 2002 nominee John Graves or State Representative Wayne Christian.

CD 2: Democrat Nick Lampson (I) vs. Andrew J. Bolton, George Fastuca, Mark Henry, Clint Moore, John Nickell or Ted Poe.

Nick Lampson faces a new district for re-election. While he retains Democratic stronghold Jefferson County (Beaumont), he lost Chambers and Galveston County (which were favorable to Lampson). Lampson faces more conservative, suburban Harris county voters in his bid for re-election. Lampson considered a challenge to Tom DeLay in the redrawn 22nd district, but decided to take his chances in the 2nd. The GOP performance index in the district (formerly the 9th) has gone from 54% (VAP) to 62%, and Lampson will be forced to introduce himself to many new voters less inclined to vote for a Democrat. The top Republican in the race seems to be Judge Ted Poe, but I could be wrong.

CD 3: Republicans Sam Johnson (I) or Brian Rubarts vs. No Democrat.

Rep. Sam Johnson faces token opposition in this heavily Republican suburban north Dallas / Plano seat.

CD 4: Democrats Jerry D. Ashford, Jr. or Jim Nickerson vs. Republicans Ralph Hall (I), Mike Mosher or Mike Murphy

Party-switching Ralph Hall is likely to win re-election as a Republican in this heavily Republican district north and east of Dallas. Even so, Hall could have himself a bit of trouble in the Republican primary. His Republican opponent Mike Murphy after Hall stated some rather erratic views in front of the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board, "Mr. Hall said the United States should station armed National Guard troops on the border with Mexico, withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq, and encourage Japan to re-arm to police much of Asia. He also suggested that the U.S. military should have leveled Baghdad to show the Iraqis that they truly were whipped." Still, Ralph Hall, who has been endorsed by President Bush has the advantage. The victor of the Republican primary should have no trouble winning this November.

CD 5: Republican Jeb Hensarling (I) vs. Democrat Bill Bernstein.

District 5 has changed significantly with redistricting, but Jeb Hensarling should have no trouble winning re-election against Bill Bernstein. The district has a 65% Republican VAP.

CD 6: Republican Joe Barton (I) vs. Democrat Morris Meyer.

District 6 has changed a little bit, including all of the city of Arlington and many of Martin Frost's current constituents. For awhile, Martin Frost considered running against Joe Barton, but felt like he had a better chance running in the 32nd in north and west Dallas. Morris Meyer is a good candidate for the Democratic Party, running a grassroots and online campaign (his use of BlogAds has been impressive), but he certainly has a tough, uphill battle to oust an entrenched Republican opponent on GOP turf.

CD 7: Republicans John Culberson(I) or Sam Texas vs. John Martinez.

John Culberson should have no trouble defeating perrenial candidate Sam Texas or Democratic challenger John Martinez in his suburban west Harris County district

CD 8: Republican Kevin Brady (I) vs. Democrat James "Jim" Wright

District 8 remains centered in heavily Republican suburban Montgomery County. Kevin Brady will face token opposition from Democrat James "Jim" Wright (presumed no relation to former Speaker Jim Wright).

CD 9: Democrats Chris Bell (I), Al Green or Republicans Beverly A. Spencer vs. A.R. Hassan or Arlette Molina.

Congressman Chris Bell has a tough re-election challenge in the new Black plurality 9th district in Houston. Al Green is a longtime Justice of the Peace in Houston and has significant support among the Black community. This race could go either way.

CD 10: Republicans John Devine, Teresa Doggett Taylor, Pat Elliott, John Kelley, Michael T. McCaul, Dave Phillips Attorney, Ben Streusand or Brad Tashenberg vs. No Democrat.

District 10 used to be contained entirely within Travis County and represented by Lloyd Doggett. It has historically been a central Texas district previously represented by Lyndon B. Johnson and Jake Pickle. After redistricting it stretches from central Austin to Katy, TX (Houston suburb). It has a 66% Republican VAP index. Former Austin mayor Gus Garcia considered running as a Democrat for this seat, but ultimately declined. Current district 10 represenative Lloyd Doggett is running for re-election in the 25th district. Thus, the congressman for district 10 will be picked in an April run-off between the top two vote-getters today. The Austin Chronicle best summarizes the candidates:

To get some idea of the available choices, Michael McCaul – former "counterterrorism" prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office for Texas, who is apparently running on his father's WWII war record – may be the "moderate" of the bunch. You've got a mortgage banker (Ben Streusand) promising to abolish the IRS, a corporate attorney (Dave Phillips) running to represent the energy industry, an anti-choice judge (John Devine) who thinks he's the second coming of Moses – and Teresa Doggett ("Up With People") Taylor.

CD 11: Republicans Mike Conaway or Bill Lester vs. Democrat Wayne Raasch.

This district was drawn to please Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick. It gives the Midland-Odessa area the dominate population center of a congressional district. The favorite in both the primary and the general election is Mike Conaway, a friend of president Bush, and narrow loser to Randy Neugebauer in the special election in district 19 last year.

CD 12: Republican Kay Granger (I) vs. Democrat Felix Alvarado.

Redistricting has shifted district 12 to the west taking in several counties west of Fort Worth, however the base of the district remains in west Fort Worth and Kay Granger as congresswoman and former mayor of Fort Worth should have an easy re-election.

CD 13: Republican Mac Thornberry (I) vs. No Democrat.

CD 14: Republican Ron Paul (I) vs. No Democrat.

CD 15: Democrat Rubén Hinojosa (I) vs. Republicans Alexander Hamilton, Paul B. Haring or Michael D. Thamm.

On paper the 15th Congressional district should be competetive. After redistricting the district barely has a 50% Democratic Index for the Voting Age Population (however overall, it rises to 55%). The new district winds from Hidalgo County on the border to Bastrop County, just east of Austin. While it has a significant Hispanic majority, it takes in many rural White counties as well. It may be competetive in the fall, but Hinojosa's seniority gives him a strong advantage.

CD 16: Democrat Silvestre Reyes (I) vs. Republicans David Brigham or Bobby Ortiz.

Being surrounded on three sides by Mexico and New Mexico, it's hard to do to much to El Paso in redistricting. Silvestre Reyes ought to win re-election easily.

CD 17: Democrat Chet Edwards (I) vs. Republicans Dave McIntyre, Dot Snyder or Arlene Wohlgemuth.

Chet Edwards will have the fight of his life against the winner of the Republicans primary. Conservative champion Arlene Wohlgemuth is the favorite, but Waco Republicans will probably favor Dot Snyer, who was recruited to run before redistricting. In the general, Edwards will run well in Waco, but Ford Hood, the city of Temple, Coryell and Bell counties - where Edwards is popular - have been removed. The new district runs to the north into the heavily Republican Fort Worth suburbs (where Wohlgemuth hails from).

CD 18: Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee (I) vs. No Republican.

CD 19: Republican Randy Neugebauer (I) vs. Democrat Charles W. Stenholm (I).

Redistricting has forced these two incumbents to run against one another in a west Texas district. Both candidates will surely be well funded, but Neugebauer will certain have the advantage. Not only will Charlie Stenholm need to introduce himself to the heavily Republican voters of Lubbock, but Stenholm has only narrowly fended his last couple of lackluster Republican challengers. Neugebauer will be formidable.

CD 20: Democrat Charles A. Gonzalez vs. Republican Roger Scott vs. Independent Becky Whetstone.

Charlie Gonzalez should have little trouble winning re-election, but his former wife's (Whetstone's) Independent candidacy should make this race interesting.

CD 21: Republican Lamar Smith (I) vs. Democrat Rhett R. Smith.

Lamar Smith has some new Austin constituents, but he should have relatively little difficulty winning in this 67% Republican district.

CD 22: Republican Tom DeLay (I) vs. Democrats Richard R. Morrison or Erik Saenz.

As is typical, Democrats are in a contest for the priveledge of taking on Tom DeLay, the architect of the redistricting mess. Richard Morrison has courted bloggers as well, and you can check out an interview he had with Off the Kuff, here.

CD 23: Republican Henry Bonilla vs. Democrats Joe Sullivan or Virgil W. Yanta.

Henry Bonilla had a tough challenge in 2002 by Democrat Henry Cuellar. In fact, on election night before many of the San Antonio returns came in, it looked as if Cuellar had pulled off an upset. Redistricting, however, made this district significantly safer for Bonilla by cutting Webb County (heavily Democratic Laredo) in half, and throwing the eastern half into district 28.

CD 24: Republicans Bill Dunn, Kenny Marchant, Cynthia Newman or Terry Waldrum vs. Democrat Gary R. Page.

State Representative Kenny Marchant is the Republican consensus choice for this new DFW midcities district. He should win the primary and general election easily over former Green, now Democrat Gary Page.

CD 25: Democrats Lloyd Doggett (I) or Leticia Hinojosa vs. Republicans Regner A. Capener Minister or Rebecca Armendariz Klein.

Lloyd Doggett and Leticia Hinojosa are in a tough fight for the Democratic nomination. In fact, this race is really two races. In Austin, where Doggett is expected to win big (although State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos has endorsed Hinojosa) and in the valley where Hinojosa is running strong. Many Doggett supporters were worried about the high early vote turnout in the valley, but Austin had a very large early vote turnout in the final day of early voting. On the Republican side, the Republican establishment is backing Armendariz Klein, but this district is solidly Democratic.

CD 26: Republican Michael C. Burgess (I) vs. Democrat Lico Reyes.

Despite dipping into Fort Worth to take in parts of Martin Frost's 24th district, this Denton County based district remains safe for Michael Burgess.

CD 27: Democrat Solomon P. Ortiz (D) vs. Republicans Jesus A. Caquias or William (Willie) Vaden.

On paper this district looks competetive. The DPI is in the low 50s. However, it's unlikely that Solomon Ortiz, with his senority would be in much trouble.

CD 28: Democrats Ciro D. Rodriguez (I) or Henry Cuellar vs. Chris Bellamy, Francisco "Quico" Canseco, James (Jim) F. Hopson or Gabriel (Gabe) Perales, Jr.

The race between Ciro Rodriguez and Henry Cuellar has been intense during the Democratic primay. Cuellar is former Democratic state representative from Laredo, he endorsed George W. Bush in 2000, then served as a Secretary of State under Rick Perry before resigning to run for Congress against (and almost defeat) Henry Bonilla. Rodriguez has perhaps the most liberal voting record of any Texas Hispanic Congressman. A strong early vote out of Laredo has given Rodriguez a lot to worry about, and this race should be close. Either Rodriguez or Cuellar would have little trouble winning in November.

CD 29: Democrat Gene Green (I) vs. No Republican.

Despite representing a heavily Hispanic district in Houston, Gene Green, an Anglo Democrat has no opposition from either party.

CD 30: Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson (I) vs. No Republican.

CD 31: Republican John R. Carter (I), Wes Riddle or Dirk Armbrust vs. Democrat Jon Porter.

Rep. John Carter has a primary challenge in his newly configured district, but he remains the strong favorite in both the primary and the general.

CD 32: Democrat Martin Frost (I) vs. Republican Pete Sessions (I).

Perhaps ground zero of the redistricting battle will be in north Dallas this fall. While the district includes the heavily Republican Park Cities and North Dallas, Martin Frost is quick to mention that the district is also half minority (about 35% Hispanic, 10% Black, 5% Asian). Due to the partisan balance of the district, Pete Sessions is the favorite, but the election will be very expensive and hard fought.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at March 9, 2004 05:48 PM | TrackBack

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