Winners and Losers
Whose stock rose, whose fell, on November 7:
Rose: Fred Baron. Other trial lawyers lavished millions on the Chris Bell and Carole Keetonm Strayhorn campaigns and came away with nothing to show for it. Baron created and funded ($1.7 million) the Texas Democratic Trust, and Dallas Democrats leveraged the money into a sweep of every contested courthouse race and, as a bonus, defeated Republican legislator Bill Keffer.
Rose: Chet Edwards. Despite having the highest percentage of Republican voters of any Democratic congressman, Edwards pounded Republican Van Taylor by 58%-40%, winning his ninth term. With the Democrats taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives, he stands to become chairman of the Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs subcommittee of the House Appropriations committee. This is good news for Edwards home town, Waco, where the V.A. hospital has been targeted for possible closure, and for nearby Fort Hood.
Rose: The WD-40s. Republicans targeted a group of white conservative Democratic legislators of middle age (Mark Homer of Paris, Chuck Hobson of Jacksonville, Jim McReynolds of Lufkin, Robby Cook of Eagle Lake, and David Farabee of Wichita Falls) and didn’t win a single race.
Rose: The Texas House of Representatives. Many members on both sides of the aisle dreaded the possible return to the House of Tamadge Heflin, an old-fashioned bully as chairman of the Appropriations committee in 2003 before he was defeated in ’04 by Democrat Hubert Vo. Heflin tried to get his seat back this fall, but Vo beat him again–easing concern that Speaker Craddick might defrock Heflin’s well liked successor, Jim Pitts, and restore Heflin to his old job.
Fell: Houston Democrats, who failed to capitalize on an opportunity to make inroads in the Harris County courthouse at the same time that Dallas County Democrats were triumphant. A Democrat named Jim Sharp did break through to win one appellate judgeship. Maybe the voters thought he was John Sharp.
Fell: Tom Craddick, who saw the Republican majority in the Texas House of Representatives reduced by five seats, from 86-64 to 80-69, with a special election looming for the seat that became vacant with the death of Glenda Dawson (R-Pearland).
Fell: Rick Perry, who didn’t reach his target of 40% of the vote. Here’s the joke that’s going around: What do Rick Perry and Tony Sanchez have in common? 39%.
Fell: James Leininger. The biggest Republican donor poured millions of dollars into GOP legislative races. The result: a shutout. No Democratic incumbents lost. No open seats were won by Republicans.