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gerrymandered texas democrats to run in 2006 for other offices?

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/politics/2883616 Nov. 3, 2004, 10:41PM State Democrats regroup after resounding defeats Ousted incumbents look ahead
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 4 6:36 AM
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      Nov. 3, 2004, 10:41PM
      State Democrats regroup after resounding defeats
      Ousted incumbents look ahead to 2006 elections
      Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

      AUSTIN - Republicans put six Democratic congressmen
      out of work through redistricting. But, in an
      unintended consequence, the Republicans also may have
      created a pool of candidates for the Democrats to draw
      on in the 2006 statewide elections.

      Only one of of the unemployed congressmen is near
      retirement age. None was ready for their political
      career to end. And all could bring experience and
      political organization to a new set of political

      "Obviously, some of these guys are going to make great
      candidates in the future, and some will retire, but it
      does increase the pool size for potential statewide
      candidates," said Texas Democratic Party Executive
      Director Mike Lavigne.

      Texas Republican Chairwoman Tina Benkiser said the
      losses may give the Democrats a new "team," but she
      would rather take the improved position Republicans
      gained Tuesday by winning offices from Congress down
      to county courthouses. She said the GOP now holds
      about 2,000 of the 5,000 elective state and county
      offices in Texas.

      "The county officials of today are going to be our
      future state and national leaders. Our bench is very,
      very deep and continues to grow deeper," Benkiser

      GOP stronghold
      With Republicans holding every statewide office and a
      majority in the Legislature, the Democrats in recent
      years have gone into each state election with a short
      bench of potential candidates.

      During the 2002 elections, Democrats drew on
      millionaires and mayors to form the cornerstone of
      their field.

      Until the smoke started clearing from Tuesday's
      congressional elections, there was hardly a word on
      whom Democrats might run for office in 2006.

      By contrast, Republicans have been busy speculating
      whether U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Comptroller
      Carole Keeton Strayhorn will challenge Gov. Rick Perry
      in the GOP primary. And the ripple effect of those
      potential shifts have other statewide Republican
      office holders looking for their chance to move up the

      Among the soon-to-be unemployed Democratic
      congressmen, U.S. Reps. Martin Frost of Dallas and Max
      Sandlin of Marshall are being mentioned as potential
      candidates for attorney general.

      Of the five targeted Democrats, only U.S. Rep. Chet
      Edwards of Waco won re-election Tuesday. Youthful,
      handsome and a former state senator, Edwards might
      have been one of the Democrats' brighter prospects for
      statewide office if he had not returned to Washington,

      U.S. Rep. Chris Bell, D-Houston, lost in the
      Democratic primary this spring in a district
      Republicans drew to make it difficult for him to win
      re-election. Bell has created an Internet site to
      "foster new and bold leadership for the state of

      Bell said the Democrats will want to come to grips
      with the current losses before moving on with plans
      for 2006.

      "I'll certainly be talking to people about the playing
      field and what they see as the possibilities," Bell

      U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, is not ruling out
      any future race, said campaign manager Adrienne Elrod.

      U.S. Rep. Jim Turner, D-Crockett, has openly discussed
      the possibility of running for governor or the U.S.
      Senate in 2006.

      Turner said any Democrat thinking about running for
      statewide office is going to have to ask just how
      Republican is Texas, which gave President Bush about
      1.7 million more votes than Democratic nominee John
      Kerry in Tuesday's election.

      "There's got to be a little analysis. It was pretty
      clear that even some of our state legislators had a
      tough time, even here in East Texas," Turner said.
      "It's time to look at numbers and be realistic about
      where we stand."

      Devising a strategy
      Turner said no one on the Democratic ticket in 2002
      "was even able to come close" to capturing a statewide

      "Statewide, Republicans have an edge. Can you overcome
      that natural advantage a generic Republican has in the
      state of Texas?" Turner said.

      "You can overcome some of that with the right
      candidate and the right campaign, but there is a limit
      to your ability to do that based on what your
      candidate brings to the table."

      Turner said candidates such as himself who have run in
      Republican-leaning districts may have what it takes to
      run statewide.

      "You've got to have a candidate in a statewide race
      that's got an appeal across into those moderate
      Republicans," Turner said.

      U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm, D-Abilene, who also lost
      Tuesday, is mentioned as a possible Democratic
      candidate for state agriculture commissioner.

      Stenholm, 66, is the oldest of the dethroned
      Democrats. He said he is not ready to make any plans.

      "We've had a 26-year pretty good run. We've got a
      lame-duck session coming up. Got a cotton crop out in
      the field that my son's going to need a little help
      between now and Christmas doing," Stenholm said. "Then
      we'll look at it and all options down the line."

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