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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- Texas -- 07

Dems Fail To Stay Competitive In 3 Texas Districts

What a difference two years makes. As voters in Texas head to the polls today to vote in their 2010 primaries, Democrats find themselves struggling to put up much of a fight in three of the most competitive Republican House districts in 2008.

In the 10th District, which stretches from Austin to Houston, businessman Jack McDonald was supposed to be the Democratic challenger who could finally defeat Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the third-term Republican who won with 55 percent or less the last two elections. But McDonald's name won't appear on the 10th District primary ballot today.

After forming an exploratory committee in February 2009, McDonald raised more than $300,000 in five weeks. In April -- 19 months before the election -- the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aired a radio ad in the district for a week that attacked McCaul for his vote against the stimulus bill. The move was a clear sign of the party's faith in McDonald and its view that McCaul was vulnerable.

McDonald would go on to raise more than $1 million in 10 months. Then in late December -- two weeks before the filing deadline -- McDonald took a look at the political landscape and dropped out.

"Since forming our Exploratory Committee last February, the environment in our District has changed significantly," McDonald wrote in a farewell message on his campaign Web site.

With McDonald out this year, the fallback challenger is Ted Ankrum, a retired Naval officer and Vietnam veteran who challenged McCaul in 2006. He garnered 40 percent that year - and held McCaul to 55 percent - despite spending only $64,000. He has yet to file a fundraising report with the Federal Election Commission and likely won't receive the same national party support McDonald would have.

Continue reading "Dems Fail To Stay Competitive In 3 Texas Districts" »

A Dem Deep In The Heart Of TX

Four-term Houston Republican John Culberson is not used to strong challenges, and there's no reason he should be: After winning a runoff election in 2000 to replace retiring Rep. Bill Archer, Culberson has won easy re-elections, his lowest vote total coming in at 59% in 2006.

His Seventh District, which includes the western part of Texas' largest city, was once represented by George H.W. Bush, and gave the former president's son wide 38- and 28-point margins in 2000 and 2004, respectively. But a new poll for businessman Michael Skelly, combined with Culberson's poor fundraising numbers, has at least a few Democrats optimistic. While Skelly probably has little chance in November, some of Culberson's poll results probably say something about the state in which the GOP finds itself.

The poll, conducted 12/5-12, surveyed 600 likely voters. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, the respected Democratic firm based in Washington, tested both Skelly and Culberson.

General Election Matchup
Culberson 52
Skelly 33

The wide 19-point lead, though, looks less impressive when just 44% say they will vote to re-elect Culberson. 34% say they will vote for someone new. Once undisclosed positive messages are read about each candidate, both wind up with 44%. Still, if those positive messages are not released within the poll memo, any results they purport to show should be taken with a hefty grain of salt.

Skelly is not the average opposition candidate in a GOP-favored district: He's raised more than $460,000 through the February 13 pre-primary filing deadline. The incumbent has raised $322,000, though Culberson has consistently spent more than he has brought in, leaving him with just $82,000 in the bank.

The district's heavy crimson hue makes Skelly's battle more than uphill: He's scaling the Matterhorn with little more than an ice pick. But with so much money in the bank, the Democrat could put the incumbent Republican in an uncomfortable position.