The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Two Differing Views

Express-News editorial writer Bruce Davidson had this to say about Victor Morales' campaign for CD-28 this past Sunday:

Victor Morales' wife wants to move to South Texas, so he decided it was time to run for Congress again.

The two-time Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate told Express-News political editor Jaime Castillo last month that he might have launched his campaign for the 28th Congressional District post earlier, but "I didn't know that my wife wanted to move."

That's not a compelling reason for South Texas Democrats to support the Crandall schoolteacher, but it is typical Morales rationale.

Morales burst onto the Texas political scene in 1996 when he snatched the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination from two congressmen.

He captured Democratic voters' imagination as the outsider who campaigned in a little white pickup. He also capitalized on the rising clout of Hispanic voters who picked him over foes who were little known outside their own congressional districts.

Morales continued to reject establishment politics as the Democratic Senate nominee, but he also exhibited a stubborn lack of common sense and refused to debate incumbent Sen. Phil Gramm.

The schoolteacher lost that race and has since lost two more: a 1998 bid for a Dallas-area congressional seat and a 2002 bid for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination.

His fourth bid for office qualifies him as a perennial candidate.

By now he should know that he has little, if any, chance of winning with his maverick style, but he apparently enjoys the headlines and the attention.


Morales didn't care enough about South Texas to move back during the decade since he became a politician. He will have a hard time convincing voters in this part of the state that they should trust him to represent them now.

Morales knows how the game is played, but he doesn't play to win.

His style was charming when he was a first-time candidate in 1996. Now, he's just another perennial.

Compare that now, to this viewpoint from a Republican newsletter(via e-mail):

Politics within the boundaries of Harlandale and South San School Districts has been refined as a fine-tuned contact sport. It is home of the “take no prisoners,” mentality. Political careers are sometimes made and lost on the Southside, based on a perceived slight or failure to pay due homage and respect.

The Rodriguez-Cuellar grudge rematch is a perfect example. A large number of fellow Southside Democrats are outraged at Laredo Congressman Henry Cuellar for “stealing the election from Congressman Ciro Rodriguez” in a sleaze battle of non-existent, literally comatose and ineligible voters to include dead people.

They are also steamed that Cuellar votes with the Republicans on most issues to include ratification of CAFTA and most recently giving those who earn over $200 thousand a year, a tax break. In the eyes of Bexar County Democrats, Cuellar is a Republican and a bad one at that.

State Representative Richard Raymond’s early departure has demoralized the Rodriguez staff immeasurably and makes it extremely difficult for Rodriguez to overcome. He was banking on Raymond to split the vote in Laredo and force a run-off. Sorry Ms. Chapa, Victor Morales will do more than entertain; he will likely wound Rodriguez and possibly cost him the chance to regain his seat.

Now there's no doubt that Morales is going to take a decent portion of votes, but why you'd argue that he'd pull more from Rodriguez than Cuellar is puzzling. Bexar County Dems are angry because Cuellar 'knocked off' Rodriguez for no real concrete reason, other than 'missed votes' and pure, uncut, straight from Colombia ambition AND because he's a Republican in Dems clothing. And Webb County Dems aren't with Cuellar because they're somehow more ideologically in tune with him than with Rodriguez. They voted for, and will continue to vote for, Cuellar because of the thought of a hometown Congressman. It's the favorite son argument, can't blame them for that.

That also explains why Webb County turned out in much higher numbers in '04 than Dems did in southern Bexar county. Although I don't think that's going to be too much of a problem this time around. With twice as many people living in the Bexar County portion of CD-28 than in Webb County and with contested primary races happening up and down the ballot, we should expect a spike in turnout here in San Antonio. Which is a problem for Cuellar, because I don't see a spike of similar proportions happening in Webb county.

Although, as I've said before, where Morales can hurt Rodriguez are the counties to the immediate south and east of Bexar county- where Morales is from. Rodriguez picked a net gain of 2,000 votes in those areas, putting Rodriguez back on par with Cuellar. Still, I think Morales will pull from both equally, just enough to cause a run-off, but not enough to make it a strong three person race.