Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Primarying Craddick D’s. What Is The Prognosis?

Vince posted an interesting opinion on the part of Professor Jerry Polinard, at the University of Texas Pan American excerpted from here. Here is a quote:

“I don’t think that support of Craddick has strong negative consequences for any of the Valley Craddick Ds, particularly because they have been able to use their influence to bring goodies home to the district.”

For those, and other reasons, I think it is safe to say that four of the fifteen Craddick D’s are secure in their districts. Even if a primary challenge is mounted against Norma Chavez, Kino Flores, Ryan Guillen or Aaron Peña, they are doomed to failure. In fact, after looking at some data, I think it is safe to say that of the fifteen Craddick D’s nominated for primary challenges, primary challenges to only a mere five of them stand a good chance of a successful outcome.

Here is a summary of each of the eleven remaining Craddick Ds vis-à-vis the possibility of a successful primary challenge.

Kevin Bailey, Houston, District 140: Was unopposed in November. A primary contest is possible here. In 2006 his primary opponent got 30% of the vote. The district is 71% Hispanic although only 52% are registered. A primary challenge is doable but his opponent needs to be Hispanic – his ’06 primary opponent had an Hispanic surname.
Joe Deshotel, Port Arthur, District 22: Won 90.75% of the vote against a Libertarian-opponent.. He was unopposed in the ’06 primary. A primary challenge is possible but success is nowhere near assured. The district is just over 56% African-American. Deshotel has served 5 terms, he has a strong union backing. On the other hand, successful bills that he has authored do not bring much to his district. A possible exception is HB 3634 gives his local waterway and navigation district the power to collect fees to offset security costs.
Dawnna Dukes, Austin, District 46: Polled 85% to a Libertarian opponent. She was unopposed in the primary. A primary contest is doable, and rumor has it that she will have at least one opponent next March. Demographically, the district is very evenly divided, while Hispanics outnumber all other groups, they don’t vote proportionate to their numbers. Arguing in her favor, her two successful bills do appear to benefit some of her constituents. They both deal with making it easier for people to obtain health and unemployment benefits.
Helen Giddings, De Soto (Dallas Area), District 109: Polled 90% against a Libertarian opponent. She was opposed in the ‘06 primary but 90% voted for her. She is highly respected. The district is just over 50% African-American. She has served in the House since 1993. Opposing her in a primary will be difficult; Giddings is fairly successful in getting her bills passed. She is one of the leaders in this group with eleven sent to the governor for signing.
Harold Dutton, Houston, District 142: Polled 94% against a Libertarian opponent. He was unopposed in the ’06 primary, had mild opposition in ’04, and no primary opposition in ’02.. Like Giddings, Dutton has been in office for a long time. He has been criticized for some bizarre legislation (spanking). A prolific introducer of legislation, Dutton was successful in 12 of his bills in the recent session. A majority of these bills had to do with child protection and child custody issues. His support of children’s issues (except for maybe the spanking thing) makes him a nice guy. I’d say the prognosis is poor in a primary challenge here.
Tracy O. King, Eagle Pass, District 80: Got 100% in his unopposed race, he was also unopposed in the ’06 primary. King has served several terms in the House. His district is overwhelmingly Hispanic and the district does hug the Rio Grande Valley. Among his successful bills, one grants hunting rights to the Kickapoo Indian tribe, another allocates startup funds for rural rail development and yet another annexes the Bermuda Reservoir to a water improvement district within his district. I see King as highly vulnerable in a primary challenge. His opponent does need to be Hispanic. He faced an opponent (Hispanic) in the ’04 primary, who garnered 39%. In ’02 Timo Garza unseated him in a primary runoff, although King won the seat back the next term after Garza got into an ethics problem.
Eddie Lucio III, Brownsville, District 27: Received 64% of the vote in an election opposed by a Republican (23%) A primary challenge here is possible. In the ’06 primary Lucio barely won with a 51% victory against 3 challengers. Lucio has been opposed and was nearly toppled in 2006. He was unopposed in the ’04 and ’02 primaries. What is needed is a single Hispanic opponent. There is a reason Lucio denounced Craddick at the end of the session and this is it. Lucio stands alone among his Rio Grande Valley delegation, of losing his seat in a primary challenge.
Ruth Jones McClendon, San Antonio, District 120: Received 85% of the vote against a Libertarian opponent. She was unopposed in the ’06 primary. She is well-established with 5 terms in the House. Her district has diverse demographics, dominated by Hispanics but Hispanics in her district vote disproportionately low to their numbers. Her opponent in the ’04 primary, an Hispanic, got 16% of the vote. McClendon’s HB 2514 might be viewed as being of direct benefit to her constituents in San Antonio. Her HB 2751, while decreasing benefits and increasing contributions, guarantees that San Antonio’s Fire and Police Healthcare Fund will remain solvent past projected 2023 bankruptcy. McClendon looks out for her constituents. I just don’t see any primary contest resulting in an unseating taking place here.
Robert Puente, San Antonio, District 119: Got 100% of the vote in his unopposed race; he was also unopposed in the ‘06 primary as he was in ’04 and ’02. His Hispanic primary opponent in ’00 got less than 30% of the vote. This district is overwhelmingly Hispanic and they come out and vote.. He authored successful bills HB 3 and HB 4, both water conservation bills. Indeed, much of Puente’s legislation is concerned with water-related issues. Puente looks well-entrenched to me.
Patrick Rose, Austin, District 45: Got 60% of the vote in November. He was opposed by a Republican who garnered 36% of the vote. In the primary, he was unopposed. Rose stands the most to lose, and the Democratic Party stands the most to lose by opposing him in a primary. Unseating him will almost certainly return District 45 to Republicans. Rose has gotten a steadily greater percentage of the vote as time has gone by – Republicans vote for him because he is Rose and they see him as a conservative. To primary Patrick Rose is to kiss District 45 goodbye.
Sylvester Turner, Houston, District 139: Got an unopposed 100% of the vote in November and was unopposed in the ’06, ’04,’02 and ‘00 primaries. Turner has the biggest target painted on him, due to his Craddick-like behavior near the end of the session. Rumor has it that two individuals will challenge him in the March primary. Turner is an 8 term house member, his district is over 50% black and overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. Prognosis – a primary challenge would be difficult. He authored HB 109 which restored CHIP to over 130,000 children. He has openly broken with Craddick in his declaration for candidacy for House Speaker in the next session. Does this get him off the hook? It depends on how many of his constituents see him in action with replays of him holding the Speaker’s gavel. My thought: not many will.

Now there could be things that I have ignored or overlooked. That has happened before. But from where I sit, I just don’t see much in the way of positive outcome here. My belief is that the DINOs have all been rooted out and what we have left are people who, like the Rio Grande Valley delegation, are those who are simply out looking after the best interests of their constituents.


Anonymous said...

Eddie Lucio III was a freshman this past session. You are perhaps confusing his record with that of his father, Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.

Hal said...

Absolutely and my mistake. Eddie's father (Jr) had no primary opponents. Eddie III had 3 and they nearly knocked him off the ballot.

So it goes even worse for Lucio, I'm afraid. Eddie III has no strong winning record at all. Happily, being a state Rep is not (supposed to be) a profitable thing. So Eddie III should do OK in the private sector no matter what.