In what has to be regarded as (1) a monumental upset and (2) a huge defeat for President Bush in the heart of Texas, Democrat Ciro Rodriguez is on his way to defeating Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla in the 23rd congressional district.
The 8:50 p.m. totals:
Rodriguez – 30,408 (56.84%)
Bonilla – 23,089 (43.16%)
The race was over when the early vote came in with Rodriguez winning, 16,896 to 14,419. Republicans almost always lead in the early vote.
More than half of the precincts are in (148 of 267). Unless most of the outstanding vote is on the North Side of San Antonio, this deal is done.
Rodriguez was given up for dead when Bonilla just missed winning without a runoff in the November 7 special election and Rodriguez had only 20% of the vote. Bonilla had $2 million to spend and Rodriguez was in debt. The truth is that Rodriguez, whose soon to be retired nickname is Zero, didn’t win the race; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did. They provided the money and the strategy and Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, Bonilla ran a bad race with offensive ads trying to link Rodriguez to terrorists.
Among the lessons in this race (and in congressional races on November 7) is that money isn’t everything. The entire San Antonio power structure was for Bonilla. It didn’t matter. As I said in a post earlier today, intensity trumps money. Republicans are still busy blaming each other for losing control of Congress and for supporting/opposing Bush/Baker on Iraq. This is a dispirited party right now, even in Texas.