The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

South Bexar County Election Analysis

From a three-person race to a two-person race back to a three-person race, CD-28 is only the starting point for what should be a full slate of primary battles in southern portion of Bexar County. Let's break down what each and every one means.

CD-28

The crown jewel of this area. This race could quite possibly be one of the best primary elections on both sides of the aisle in 2006. In one corner is current Congressman Henry Cuellar, having won office only after miraculously 'finding' an extra several hundred votes to swing the 2004 Dem primary his way. Cuellar's given Webb County their first hometown congressman in quite a while, and it seems to be paying off. Originally opposed by nearly every local pol in Laredo, Cuellar has begun to sway some of them to his side- most notably Laredo mayor Betty White. But that was only after State Rep. Richard Raymond got out of the race.

Bexar County has twice as many people living in CD-28 than Webb County does, but Webb County turns out at a much higher rate. And now with Victor Morales in the race, how does this affect the race and where does Morales pull his votes from? Matt has had some thoughts on the matter, and I disagree with him slightly. Raymond's departure allows for Cuellar to consolidate his Webb County base, essentially putting him on par with Rodriguez now. This also opens up an opportunity for Rodriguez to persuade some of Raymond's big-money backers who definitely don't see the need to have a Cuellar in this Dem of a seat (Bonilla's seat? Definitely.) to now side with him. And with turnout expected to jump in the Bexar County portion of CD-28, I'd give the edge to Ciro in a two-man race.

But this isn't a two-man race. Morales should pull from both equally in both Webb and Bexar Counties, but the one place he could hurt Rodriguez more than Cuellar are the counties to the south and east of Bexar County where his family resides. These group of counties gave Rodriguez an extra 2,000+ votes that was able to put him on par with Cuellar in 2004. Morales could also hurt both candidates with the vet vote. And Matt's right, Morales will aggressively go after those not in the average voter file. But that's an extremely risky strategy, one that didn't necessarily pay off for Morales in '02. But this race could just very well hinge on how much impact three other races in CD-28 have.

SD-19

This race is going to get ugly and it's going to get ugly quick. SD-19 helps out Rodriguez' chances in CD-28 by nearly mirroring it in Bexar County and not overlapping it anywhere else. Is there enough animus on the ground against Madla to knock him off? Increased turnout in South Bexar here only serves to strengthen the emphasis it will have both in SD-18 and CD-28. Out of the 21,000+ 2004 general election votes cast in HD-118 that were also in SD-19, over 15,500 went to Uresti. There were over 33,000 cast for Madla as he ran unopposed in the 2002 Dem primary, with 11,500 coming from Bexar. Not a bad place to start. As I've said before, the vast majority of the primary votes in SD-19 will come within a four-hour drive of San Antonio. In a district this sprawled out, this can only help Uresti.

HD-118

At this point and time there are two Dems in this race. Although as Matt says, neither look to be the candidate. At least not right now. Driving up turnout in Uresti's old haunts only furthers his goal of knocking off Madla and helping Rodriguez fight Cuellar. Ricketts should have some name ID in the area, although not much. As for Farias, the amount of votes he's used to carrying in his old school board seat won't be nearly enough to qualify as a base. He'll have to move quickly and start grabbing support from all over the Harlandale area to become formidable. Until this field is set, there's nothing more that I can say.

Finally, the newly contested Governor's primary should also start to drive up interest. Although the amount of interest and competitiveness we see here will most likely be a function of how quickly and how well Gammage gets his act together. Call me skeptical right now. At the very least here in San Antonio, Chris Bell, with the endorsements of Congressman Charlie Gonzalez and County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, seems to be making the right moves to move Bexar County solidly into his column.