Facing South is my new favorite blog.
This post (by correctly explaining how Karl Rove’s recent GOP strategy PowerPoint (.pdf) violated the Hatch Act by being presented on federal property) intrigued me. Then I got sucked in by the observation that, in 2008, every southern state save Florida will hold a Senatorial election. Although Rove believes Texas will remain “uncompetitive,” this morning’s edition of The Dallas Morning News and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of DailyKos think that this “could get interesting.”
Democratic challenger Mikal Watts, an ultra-wealthy former trial attorney from San Antonio AND a former Longhorn great (Kedar will be excited), says he “doesn’t enter races that [he can’t] win.” That’s interesting to me, because he also doesn’t enter races he can win. He has zero political experience, and will have to count on an optimistic DNC to get serious. That shouldn’t be a problem, though, because he banked $1.2 million for Dean at an April fundraiser. The DMN further notes that Watts’ $4 million dollar donation to his own exploratory committee (good job closing that finance loophole, Mr. McCain) has matched the entire warchest of Cornyn. I am amused (as is Sarah White in her recent letter to Mikal Watts) by the enormity of this number.
The real question becomes how much money one needs to get elected in Texas, where state-wide Democrats sport a promising 0% victory rate since 1994. Those of us acquainted with Texas politics have grown frustrated with a state that blindly re-elects incumbents over better-qualified challengers. Hutchinson took down 69% of the vote against Radnofsky last cycle, and that isn’t the kind of number that’s likely to earn a second look from DNC strategists. Gary is really more of a congressional expert than I am, but maybe (just maybe) we should be more optimistic about Watts.
First of all, I can’t figure out why he thinks he’s a Democrat (and this is good). He uses the RNC line “decided by the states” on gay marriage, and calls himself “pro-life with three exceptions [rape, incest, and the life of the mother].” I don’t think his brilliant idea about “[needing] to get out of the war” is really that much of a partisan issue anymore, and I can’t find any more policy positions. BurntOrangeReport took Texas’s temperature on Watts this morning, and incited copious comments about the legitimacy of his candidacy. My opinion? He doesn’t have a Wikipedia page – so don’t get your hopes up. Unfortunately, Sean McConeghy at Republican Senate seems to share my sentiments.
Watts seems to be banking on anti-Cornyn sentiment as the major cornerstone of his alleged electability, but this is the kind of dangerous mentality that won’t excite national consultants. Still, a slight window of opportunity might exist. SurveyUSA finds 42% of Texans (and 50% of Hispanics) disapprove of Cornyn, which is far more than the 35% who disapproved of Hutchinson last November.
Ultimately, the tone of the 2008 congressional elections will largely depend on how excited voters are to vote for President (take their pulse at our Election Tracker). After all, people love to pull a straight ticket. Oh, also? He’ll have to beat Rick Noriega for the Democratic nomination – and a lot of people (notably including myself and TexasLiberal in this post) think that could be quite a task.