Texas Democrats are in position to take back the house

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Election 2008, Good Stuff, HD-52, Take Action, The Lege, Williamson County at 5:00 pm by wcnews

The traditional media in Texas is waking up to the fact that the Democrats have a great chance at taking over the Texas House in three weeks. The HD-52 race is got mentioned in the DMN recently, Texas’ battleground is older suburbs.

Democrats also are trying to make an entrée into Williamson County, where Diana Maldonado is running a serious race against Republican Bryan Daniel for the Texas House seat vacated by retiring Republican Mike Krusee.

I remember traveling through Williamson County with Democratic Senate nominee Richard Fisher in 1994, when he held an afternoon meeting at a park to recruit like-minded suburban professionals. The effort was valiant, but church picnics draw more folks.

Fourteen years later, a Democrat may win in Williamson County, which has voted solidly Republican in every presidential and Senate race for at least 16 years. The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg attributes Ms. Maldonado’s chances to the numerous professionals who retained their Democratic leanings as they fled pricey Austin north across the county line.

The HChron has this one on the Democrats taking over the Texas House, Climate is ripe for Texas House takeover.

Kelly Fero, a veteran Democratic strategist and campaign consultant, believes his party will get between five and 12 Texas House seats. Elections give voters a choice between the status quo and change, he said, “and this is as much of an election about changing the way things are as we have ever seen in our lifetime.

“The polling shows there is far greater intensity among Democrats and independents and even among moderate Republicans — both nationally and in Texas — to move in a new direction,” Fero said. “And that means they blame the party in power, so Republican incumbents are likely to take it on the chin.”

House Republicans picked up 13 seats in 2002 when the party benefited from new boundaries drawn in their favor in the redistricting process a year earlier.

Texas Democrats won five House seats in the 2006 election, which was another bad election cycle for Republicans nationally.


Democrats contend that aggressive efforts to increase voter turnout in Houston and Dallas will help their candidates in those areas.

“Democratic candidates have put themselves into a position to take advantage of a good political atmosphere,” said Matt Angle, a Democratic campaign strategist.

But Republicans can point to tort reform — which puts limits on lawsuits — school accountability and a fairly healthy state economy to separate them from the national party, said Ted Delisi, a GOP strategist.

“I think there’s a certain level of rock throwing when you are this close to the election and the economy is bad,” he said.

Legislative candidates rely less on TV campaign spots and more on personal interaction with voters, Delisi said. But he acknowledged that a highly charged presidential campaign could have an impact on down-ballot contests.

Democrat candidates had more campaign cash on hand in 14 of the top 20 House races, according to the most recent reports. But the Republican speaker and GOP-friendly groups still have millions of dollars left to finance the end of the campaign.

“There will be a big flush of money with attack messages dictated and paid for by the special interests,” Democratic strategist Ed Martin said.

But Democrats will counter, he said, with a message that “special interests have had their way with the government, and we’re paying the price.”

The grim voter mood concerns Republicans, said Royal Masset, a long-time Republican strategist and former state GOP political director.

“We know we can lose a lot of (legislative) seats, though I believe all our statewide candidates will be re-elected,” he said.

“It’s much easier to defeat an incumbent in a presidential year because the straight ticket party preference cast for president applies to most of the ballot,” Masset said. “A strong straight party vote can doom the most popular incumbents. It’s like a tidal wave. In presidential years your tidal waves are much higher and could destroy more small islands.”

Republicans shouldn’t start attacking the media, it’s not their fault. Remember what former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd’s first tell-tale sign that a campaign is in trouble.

Rule One: When a campaign starts attacking the media, things aren’t going well.

Rule Two: When a campaign says the polls are wrong, things aren’t very good.

Rule Three: When a campaign says “the only poll that counts is the one on election day” usually means a campaign is about to lose.

Now we could probably add a new one: when partisans start saying let the candidate be the candidate, it means things are off course.

The time is right and the opportunity is there. Now that we’re in position to win we must help our candidates in any way we can. It’s time to take it to our opponents and Crush their spirits.

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