The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Monday, July 18, 2005

Chet Edwards Gets Some Opponents

Almost. Maybe. Nate over at Common Sense has an article that I've been googling for, for quite a while now- just who is gonna challenge Chet Edwards in '06? According to Dan Genz of the Waco Tribune-Herald, we've got five potential challengers:

None of the five potential candidates lining up to challenge U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, has held public office before, but one came close.

Serving in Iraq during the ongoing conflict, Marine Capt. Van Taylor told a publication he was asked by locals in the town of Afak to become its new mayor. He declined and has since moved from the Dallas area to West in McLennan County and is considering his first campaign for Congress.

Central Texas Republicans could chose between two Iraq veterans, along with three candidates with some political experience. An early field without traditional heavyweight contenders like repeat challengers or state lawmakers has cleared the way for hopefuls with strong resumes that don't include elected office.

Area Republican party leaders met with the five men Saturday in Waco to learn their stories and gauge whether they could take on a nine-term incumbent.

"Chet Edwards is a formidable foe. I mean, it's going to take quite a personality to unseat him," said Janet Jackson, who organized the meeting as president of the Bosque County Republican Club.

"It's an exploratory meeting just to pull the district together and get the folks in front of us who are thinking about running," Jackson said.

The potential candidates come from a variety of backgrounds.

A rocket attack last year in Iraq while Bentley Nettles, 41, was preparing to take a shower gave him the second of his two Purple Hearts during an 18-year Texas National Guard career that has sent him to Afghanistan and Bosnia.

Tucker Anderson, 34, quit his job in Washington, D.C., as an aide to U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, to return to the Robertson County hometown of Calvert where he grew up and begin the first campaign of his own political career.

Fred Wood, 45, of Scurry, is selling his 56-acre ranch to move to the 17th Congressional District, preparing a campaign that may focus on his ideas for using new technology to curb illegal immigration on the Mexican border.

Texas A&M University political science instructor and longtime political consultant Todd Kent, 45, of College Station, is also considering a campaign. He has strong regional roots as the son of Brazos County Republican Party Chairman David Kent.

Ok, just to clarify because I had a hard time sifting through these names-

  • Tucker Anderson, former Legislative Director to Congressman Pete Sessions has moved back home and will be running.
  • Todd Kent, TAMU Political Science instructor and political consultant, might be running.
  • Marine Captain Van Taylor, who has moved from Dallas to West, Texas (not West Texas), is considering running.
  • Bentley Nettles, his hometown is unclear, is a 18 year veteran of the National Guard looking to run.
  • Fred Wood of Scurry is moving into the district and might focus his campaign on ideas to curb illegal immigration

First impression? Not an impressive array of names. It seems alot of Republican officeholders took a pass. Second impression? Does Tucker Anderson believe that since his old boss beat Martin Frost, he can just move back home and beat Chet? Especially since his home county (Robertson) went 70-30 for Chet in '04? Third impression? David Kent, are you the reason someone with a TAMU IP address has been googling "weaknesses of Chet Edwards campaign" and getting to this blog?

With the exception of Fred Wood, who little is said about, they all bring something unique to the table. Anderson's got congressional experience, Kent's from Bryan-College Station, and Taylor and Nettles are military men. Anderson's experience gives him a good grasp on the issues, but don't know how he could press that against the others in a primary (unless they show themselves to be woefully ignorant and out of touch) or against Edwards in the general. Kent as the hometown boy from Brazos County could play well, especially since Chet only won there by 269 votes last time around. And Taylor and Nettles could neutralize the work Edwards has done with the military through their own military experience.

But it's still entirely too early to tell. One thing these guys (by the way, where are the women?) are gonna have to do is figure out a way to either consolidate their votes geographically or raise enough money to fight in every portion of this district. Follow the former route and you risk being blown out in the other areas, follow the latter route and you risk not raising enough money and getting blown out everywhere.

Still, its nice to hear some names out there finally. In other Chet Edwards news, the man has over $560,000 in the bank. News like that is also part of the reason why Kip Averitt, Doc Anderson, and Fred Brown aren't running. Good luck to the five potential candidates, you're gonna need it.