Friday, July 16, 2010

Pati Jacobs in a Winnable Texas HD 17 Race

One of the things that results if you attended the Texas Democratic Party State Convention this year is that you get your email address on a “good guys” list. So I have been receiving email from candidates left and left.

One candidate for State Rep really impressed me at this past state convention in that everywhere you went, there was Pati Jacobs. She made appearances at all the Education caucuses. She was featured in the General Session as one of the three candidates that are going to tip the Texas State House to a Democratic majority.

So I took a deeper look today, after getting my second email from her campaign, and frankly I have become thoroughly satisfied that in Pati Jacobs we not only have a great candidate, but it also looks like she can be a winner in what otherwise looks like a Republican-leaning house district.

These are exactly the kinds of places/districts we need to win this year.

First, who is Pati Jacobs? She runs a cattle ranch in Bastrop with her brother. They raise grass-fed beef on their ranch, and she is known locally as a community leader.

Now on Jacobs’ cattle ranching, if you have never tasted grass-fed beef you have been denying yourself one of the great pleasures in life. At this juncture in my life I tend toward chicken and fish, so if I cross over and have some red meat, it has to be special.

And grass-fed beef is just the ticket when you want it special.

True story: At work we science teachers sometimes have potluck lunches to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Last year I made a big pot of Texas-style chili and used a kilo of grass-fed ground chuck that I had bought at a farmer’s market. It was a special occasion for me so I splurged a little, varying from my usual pasta salad. To this day, though, when the subject of chili comes up at lunch, my colleagues still talk about my chili as though it is all I ever made for them.

So there is another association you can make with Pati Jacobs: good Texas chili.

Jacobs’ Republican opponent is the incumbent. By habit, HD 17 voters have voted Democratic when it comes to their state rep, but vote for Dark Side candidates in all other races. So when State Rep Robby Cook decided to hang up his spurs after winning in 2004 by 5,247 votes (53.66% to 44.18%), and by 415 votes in his final term during the 2006 midterm election, the seat was open in 2008. So it came as no surprise that because of the huge turnout in the historic 2008 presidential election brought McCain/Palin voters to the polls in HD 17, the open seat went to the Republican. The numbers though, say everything.

In the 2008 election, McCain got 60.9% of HD 17 voters (37,331 votes) to Obama’s 37.5% (22,980 votes), but in the House race, now incumbent Tim Kleinschmidt got only 32,220 votes (just shy of 54%) to his Democratic opponent’s 25,528 votes (just shy of 43%).

That, friends and neighbors, represents 5,111 swing votes. Over five thousand HD 17 voters who vote for Republican national candidates, but want a Democrat to represent them in the state house.

In short, then, if even half of these five thousand voters show up in the lower turnout mid-term election HD 17 is eminently winnable by a Democrat.

Especially in a mid-term election where the Republican opponent, Tim Kleinschmidt, has been labeled by the Texas Monthly as “Furniture.”

People don’t cross over to vote FOR “Furniture,” they cross over to vote AGAINST “Furniture.”

And lastly, all of those pundits who are expecting an anti-Obama bounce in the mid-term election here have not realized, and will not realize that in Texas, this election is more of a referendum on Rick Perry, his Trans-Texas Corridor, his worldwide laughingstock of a state school board and his and his party’s $18 billion budget shortfall.

So HD 17, with Tim “Lay-Z-Boy” Kleinschmidt as the incumbent, has a big blue target painted on it. And Jacobs has just announced that her campaign is in the enviable position to boast an intake of $100,000 in the January to June TEC reporting cycle. No small thing in a rural district like HD 17. If you are as delighted as I am by the prospects in this race, a race being waged by a very smart and energetic woman, then why not drop by her ActBlue page and drop a couple of dead presidents in her campaign fund?

Because while winning is fun, funding a winner is even more so.

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