Now that all the post-redistricting filings have been finalized, I thought I would take a look at Texas U.S. congressional races to see where either the Republican or the Democratic party has failed to field a candidate. While districts are usually drawn to protect incumbents and minimize the chances of the out-of-power party, it’s usually best to contest all possible races, for a variety of reasons:
You can’t beat something with nothing.
It helps tie down time, money and effort that could otherwise be shifted to other races.
It helps down-ballot races by drawing voters to the polls.
It offers a chance for Republicans to get their message of limited government, lower taxes and greater freedom out to people who might not otherwise hear it, and possibly make some converts in the process (the parable of the sower).
Stuff happens. Sudden, unexpected twists of fate can play out at any moment. Incumbents get caught stuffing bribe money into their freezer or consorting with prostitutes. Planes crash. And there’s always the possibility of someone being caught in bed with a dead woman or a live goat.
Unexpected opportunities arise, but you can’t take advantage of them if you don’t have a candidate in place.
With that in mind, let’s see how well Republicans and Democrats have done in finding candidates for all 36 Texas congressional races:
U.S. Congressional Races Where Democrats Failed to Field a Candidate
U.S. Representative District 2: Republican Incumbent Ted Poe
U.S. Representative District 3: Republican Incumbent Sam Johnson
U.S. Representative District 4: Republican Incumbent Ralph Hall
U.S. Representative District 13: Republican Incumbent Mac Thornberry
U.S. Representative District 17: Republican Incumbent Bill Flores (in a seat that was held by Democrat Chet Edwards until 2010!)
U.S. Representative District 19: Republican Incumbent Randy Neugebauer
U.S. Representative District 25: Open seat, formerly Lloyd Dogget’s until he moved to the newly created 35th District following redistricting. No less than 12 Republicans have filed for this seat (including former Senate candidates Michael Williams, Roger Williams, and Charles Holcomb). 56% of the newly reformulated 25th District’s residents voted for McCain in 2008; that’s solidly, but not overwhelmingly, Republican. But not one Democrat bothered to run…
So that’s seven U.S. Congressional races where Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee National Chair for Recruiting and Candidate Services Allyson Schwartz, and, well, whoever the hell it is at The Texas Democratic Party in charge of recruiting candidates, were unable to find a single person out of approximately 688,488 citizens in each of those districts to run for the United States House of Representatives. Say what you want about Alvin Greene running for Senator in South Carolina, but at least he showed up, which Texas Democrats couldn’t even manage to do in almost one-fifth of U.S. Congressional races this year.
By contrast, Republicans only fell down on the job in one congressional district:
U.S. Congressional Race Where Republicans Failed to Field a Candidate
U.S. Representative District 29: Democratic incumbent Gene Green gets a pass. In a district that went 62% for Obama, any Republican was going to have an uphill race. But given that there are five districts even more heavily Democratic (the 9th, 16th, 18th, 33rd, and 35th) where Republicans fielded a candidate, this seems like a lost opportunity, especially for a Republican Hispanic candidate in a Hispanic district headed by an old white guy. (Granted, this didn’t work for Roy Morales in 2010, but I would have preferred that Morales file again and run a token campaign over no one running at all.)
All in all this is good news for Republicans. If I were a Democrat, I’d be mad at how thoroughly the state and national party fell down on the job of recruiting candidates.
A suggestion: All six Republican incumbents who haven’t drawn an opponent should each hold a fundraiser for Republican Incumbent Francisco “Quico” Canseco, who figures to have the toughest race of any incumbent this time around.
The Texas Congressional Delegation
List of 2012 Texas Republican Congressional Candidates
List of 2012 Texas Democratic Congressional Candidates
Daily Kos redistricting breakdown that includes numbers on how each District voted in the 2008 Presidential race.