Monday, July 30, 2012

TX Democratic Runoff Preview

Originally published in Red Racing Horses.


Tomorrow, RRH will be liveblogging the Texas primary runoffs, 1v1 contests where no candidate reached 50% in the May primary. Today we preview the Democratic contests.


The big thing you need to know about this race is that I have seen one single yard sign for former State Rep. Paul Sadler and none for Grady Yarbrough, unrelated to former Senator Ralph Yarbrough. Yarbrough is not campaigning, leaving Sadler to coast to an easy victory. Still, the race is so under-funded and low-profile that Yarbrough will still receive a healthy percentage of the vote just from having his name on the ballot; Democrats will be showing up for down-ballot races, not US Senate.


Former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, ousted by Rep. Quico Canseco (R) in 2010, faces a primary with State Rep. Pete Gallego. Gallego has support from the national Democratic establishment (and a more local nod from San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro) and substantial funding from outside groups, most notably the League of Conservation Voters. His fundraising has easily outpaced Rodriguez, outspending him 9:1 before the primary. But a deluge of negative ads hit Rodriguez before the May primary, but Rodriguez still earned 46% of the vote to Gallego's 40%. Gallego has since rehauled his campaign team, emphasizing direct voter contact and GOTV efforts with his warchest. Like former Rep. Steve Stockman (locked in a Republican runoff in TX-36), Rodriguez has won some unlikely comebacks in the past, and if he turns out his supporters to retain his edge from the first round it could happen again. The Democratic Burnt Orange Report has a good county breakdown of who won where during the first round. Areas to watch: El Paso and western Bexar County may have higher turnout due to contested downballot races.


This is a battle along both racial and geographic lines. State Rep. Marc Veasey is African American and represents Fort Worth; former State Rep. Domingo Garcia is Hispanic and represented Dallas. Garcia in particular has crititcized GM and Lockheed Martin, sacred cows of the district based in Fort Worth and Arlington respectively. Veasey earned 37% of the vote in the first round to Garcia's 23%, giving him less of a climb to reach 50% and victory. Still, Garcia has a demographic edge- 39% of voting age residents are Hispanic to 25% black. Nevertheless, Veasey has earned a number of Hispanic endorsers in Dallas and has consolidated the support of a variety of establishment endorsers over the antagonistic Garcia.


You really have to dig to hear about this race at all. Attorney Filemon Vela is something of a DINO- his wife is a Circuit Judge who won election as a Republican in 2006, and he has said he was a Republican until last year's budget battle. Nevertheless, his father was a judge appointed by Carter and his mom was a former Mayor of Brownsville, and he cites Bill White and Reps. Henry Cuellar and Gene Green as Democrats he has supported in the past. He earned 40% in a crowded primary, with former Ortiz staffer Denise Saenz-Blanchard who narrowly earned a runoff berth with 13% of the vote. Vela should easily win the primary, despite being from Corpus Christi (just outside of the district) and his Republican past.

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