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Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, is keeping her hand in the political game. She is hosting a fundraiser Monday for Ciro Rodriguez, the D’s challenger to Republican Henry Bonilla in Congressional District 23. The invitation includes mention of “special guest” Nick Lampson and “honorary hosts” Chris Bell, Maria Luisa Alvarado, and most of the Democratic statewide ticket. Radnofsky may be looking at running for the Senate again in 08, this time against John Cornyn. But she (and Chris Bell in 2010) may find that the signs of life the party showed this year will lead some better known candidates to make a run.
The problem in District 23, unfortunately for the Ds, is the candidate. This guy previously served in Congress for four terms, and he’s running in a district that stretches all the way to El Paso, and he’s still going door to door in San Antonio as if he were running for school board. How about raising money? Oh, no, that’s not fit work for a man of the people. How about bringing in campaign professionals? Oh, no, that would mean that Ciro’s wife, Carolina, could no longer wield what the San Antonio Express-News called “tremendous authority.” In a conference call early this week, Texas Democratic members of Congress tried to persuade Rodrigues to turn his campaign over to professionals, who know how to raise money, use direct mail, and do TV spots. A fundraiser from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee showed up, only to have Rodriguez tell the Express-News, “The last thing I want to see is a phone line.” National Democratic strategists have to decide whether to go all out for a candidate who is living up to his nickname — “Zero” –from his days in the Texas Legislature. That’s also his campaign bank account balance (actually, $20,000, which might as well be zero). Democrats hold a small numerical advantage in the district, but Bonilla barely missed winning on November 7 without a runoff. The only way the Democrats are going to win this race is if the national party takes over, spends the big bucks, goes negative against Bonilla, and–here’s the most important thing–buys Ciro a pair of tennis shoes so he can keep on blockwalking and stay out of the way.