Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sundays Chron Article on Rick Noriega - A Must Read

On the eve of certain action toward establishing a Rick Noriega for US Senate exploratory committee, The Houston Chronicle published probably one of the most balanced articles on a Democratic candidate that I’ve seen in a long, long time.

It was almost like R.G. Ratcliffe bent over backwards and kissed the floor. Everyone got quoted. Even political consultants for both sides.

But what I wanted to pay attention to were the comments by Republican consultant and pollster Mike Baselice. I want to look really hard at this one because I am hoping to find out someday who Republicans want their incumbent to run against. That is, who do they think is the most vulnerable. The easiest one to defeat. This is going to be critical this time because John Cornyn’s numbers have gone south. Only his break with Bush on immigration issues keeps his approval ratings above 40%. I think I already know the answer to this, but it pays to keep checking.

Quoted from the Chron, here’s what Baselice said:

“Republican pollster Mike Baselice said it is not impossible but that Noriega will have a difficult time overcoming Watts' financial advantage in the primary.”

"’The Democratic primary is wide open, but, ultimately though, a guy with money who can tell the story on his terms ... has the advantage in a primary,’ Baselice said.”

“But he also noted that the underfunded Victor Morales won the Democratic U.S. Senate runoff in 1986 over U.S. Rep. John Bryant largely because of ethnic identity voting.”

So again, it’s about the money. Watts has money, Noriega has a surname ending in a vowel. Now don’t get me wrong, this appears to be solid observation on the part of a pollster, but isn’t it ever so nice to speak to Democrats about Watts’ money one more time, and to Republicans also?

By the way, that was a primary race in 1996 not 1986. Morales was the top vote getter in the primary, beating, three opponents, Bryant by 6%. And then in the runoff, Morales squeaked to a victory with 51.17% of the vote compared to Bryant’s 48.82%.

That was a little too close for comfort. Having a Hispanic surname only gets you so far, but it helps if you are in a low voter-turnout primary runoff I guess.

But I digress.

Sure, Watts has got the money to run a fully funded mass media campaign. Many say that is his greatest strength. No need to spend so much time in fundraising activities. He’s also got lots of people who owe him big time for his past campaign contributions. All of it goes back to Watts’ money. His main asset in the primary, his main liability in a general election.

Well that and something that I found out today. Watts once sued Anheuser-Busch. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, Watts sued beer.

Vowel . . .money. Money . . . vowel. It brings up an interesting question. One that I thought I’d never ask, but this is Texas and Texas “ain’t like other foreign countries”, like my friend Susan is fond of saying.

I wonder how many millions of dollars that little “a” is worth?

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