Sunday, October 05, 2014

Race of the Day- Texas U.S. Senate

30 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2012 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Safe Republican

Second term Senator John Cornyn is the Republican Whip on Capitol Hill, the second highest party leadership position in the Senate. Next year, he hopes to have a lot more fellow Republicans to whip in line.

His own race should not be much of a challenge, as Texas remains a very Republican state in which the party designation on a statewide general election ballot is paramount to victory. Despite all that though, Cornyn had to face a bevy of primary challengers who felt the reliably conservative Senator was not conservative enough for his state. While he easily won a March primary, by more than 40 points over his closest competition, and in the process captured 59 percent of the vote, negating the need for a run-off, it was still a sign of anti-establishment voting by some in the Texas GOP.

Finishing a distant second in that primary was Congressman Steve Stockman, a very conservative but iconoclastic lawmaker who did not make many friends in Washington during two "one and done" terms in the U.S. House. He was first elected in 1994 and then lost two years later. He made a comeback in 2012 and was sent back to Congress, but left after just one term to challenge Cornyn. While Stockman had a penchant for saying controversial things, he also disappeared from the campaign trail and from the public eye for stretches. Some Tea Party groups backed another candidate, Dwayne Stovall, a contractor, local School Board Member, and unsuccessful 2012 State House candidate.

Had Cornyn somehow lost his primary to one of the candidates opposing him, Democrats might have felt they had a chance of picking up a seat. However, their field of candidates did not contain any first-tier recruits. Some political figures in the party backed personal injury attorney Maxey Scherr, but she would only capture 18 percent of the primary vote en route to a third place finish. More troubling for Democrats was the second place contestant, who forced the race into a May runoff. Kesha Rogers was an African-American woman, who had been her party's nominee for Congress in the last two elections. She once again likely received many votes from black Democrats, in the very low profile primary, because of her first name, but not many may have known that she is a supporter of longtime political extremist Lyndon LaRouche. Supporters of his have pulled upsets in Democrat primaries in decades past. Rogers has been on record in calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama and the LaRouchies like to compare Obama to Hitler. That goes further (maybe just slightly) than what the ardent supporters of Steve Stockman may believe.

Texas Democrats certainly wanted to avoid embarrassment in having Rogers win the runoff and become their statewide nominee, so the establishment rallied around the first place finisher in the primary, and he went on to win the runoff with 72 percent of the vote. While over a quarter of Texas Democrats still voted for Rogers, the nomination went to David Alameel. The dentist had not fared well as a candidate in a crowded 2012 Congressional primary, but was very wealthy by virtue of founding and selling a branch of dental clinics. Alameel, a Lebanese Christian, would I assume also be the first Member of Congress to have ever been born in Israel.

Of course, there is no real chance of that happening as Cornyn is the overwhelming favorite to win a third term in the general election. Polls show him with an insurmountable lead over Alameel, although clumps of deadenders on the right are likely to cast protest votes against the incumbent. The Senator is a contender for whom might ultimately receive the most total Republican votes in the nation next month.

While Cornyn is likely to receive a lot less national attention than Ted Cruz, his homestate junior Senate colleague, he stands a very good chance of trading the Minority Whip nameplate outside his office to that of Majority Whip.

Cornyn campaign link:

Senate races predicted thus far: 12 D (7 Safe, 1 Likely, 3 Leans, 1 Tossup), 21 R 10 Safe, 4 Likely, 4 Leans, 3 Tossup) 
Overall predicted thus far: 46 D, 51 R (net Republican gain of 7)


At 12:10 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

2014 looking like Cornyn's last political campaign for statewide office.


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