Tag Archives: Pete Gallego

House Democratic Leadership Sees
No Path to Majority in 2016

Feb. 15, 2016 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released its early primary and secondary target lists for the 2016 campaign, which is a rather curious grouping. It is already clear that the House Democratic leadership sees no path to the majority in this election, at least during this campaign period.

With the Republican advantage at 247 (once former Speaker John Boehner’s western Ohio seat is filled in special election) to 188, the Democrats would need a net gain of 30 seats just to obtain a one-seat majority. The fact that their primary and secondary target list includes only 24 races suggests that they are nowhere close to putting enough seats in play to seriously challenge the Republican leadership structure.

On the primary list of 16 candidates, two seats are already under Democratic control, CA-24, the Santa Barbara seat of the retiring Rep. Lois Capps, and the FL-18 district of Rep. Patrick Murphy who is running for the Senate. Therefore, what they believe are prime opportunity races number just 14.

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The Texas Lineup

Dec. 17, 2015 — Candidate filing closed in Texas last week and at least a partial list of those running for the US House has been published. Since the state parties administer the candidate filing process, it will be a few days before the entire docket is made official for both Republicans and Democrats.

There is no US Senate race in this election cycle, but all 36 House seats will be on the ballot. Few districts are seriously contested, but the two open seats and one serious general election challenge will attract some political attention.

In the sprawling 23rd District that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, freshman Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) will face a re-match with the man he unseated 50-48 percent in 2014, former Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine). Two years earlier, Gallego defeated then-Rep. Quico Canseco (R) 50-45 percent. With the presidential turnout likely favoring Gallego here, expect another very close campaign in this swing CD.

All but retiring representatives Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX-15) and Randy Neugebauer (R-TX-19) are seeking re-election. Thirteen Republicans and five Democrats have drawn primary opposition, but most of the challenges are not serious, nor have the potential of becoming so.

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Déjà vu All Over Again
In Three House Races

April 6, 2015 — Familiarity is already returning to at least three congressional races. Two will be in the form of 2016 re-matches from last November, while a new special election appears to be a walk in the park for a recognizable family member.

TX-23

Last week, former Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) announced that he will seek a re-match with freshman Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes) next year in the Texas swing congressional district that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso.

After this seat was created in a special redistricting during the 1960s, the six TX-23 incumbents prior to Hurd winning in November were all eventually defeated for re-election. This is quite noteworthy when compared to a nationwide electorate that routinely re-elects almost all of its congressmen. Typically, well over 90 percent of House members who seek re-election win.
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A Minnesota Challenger Emerges; Texas House Update

Yesterday, national and Minnesota Republicans recruited an individual who has the potential of becoming a strong and interesting challenger to the state’s western district 12-term incumbent, Rep. Collin Peterson (D).

State Sen. Torrey Westrom (R) was first elected to the legislature in 1996, moving from the House to the Senate in 2012 after chairing two committees. Westrom is native to the district, growing up on a dairy farm, and tragically lost his eyesight in an agriculture-related accident when he was 14 years old. Despite his disability, Sen. Westrom became a lawyer, married, is father to three children, and has won nine state legislative elections.

The potential race against Rep. Peterson – and retirement rumors continue to swirl around the 69-year old congressman – can become competitive. One of only eight seats in the country to vote for Mitt Romney (53.9 percent) and elect a Democrat to the House, MN-7 ranks as the fourth-most Republican seat to be represented by a member of the opposite party.
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Michaud Still Up in Maine; DoJ Moves on Texas

Eliot Cutler

Eliot Cutler

The Maine Education Association commissioned a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll (July 11-16; 400 registered Maine voters) and found Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) to be leading the three-way contest for governor. According to the GQR data, Michaud has a 40-31-26 percent advantage over Gov. Paul LePage (R) and Independent attorney Eliot Cutler.

The poll comes on the heels of Gov. LePage being embroiled in a budget controversy, which came to a head in late June. Though the survey gives Michaud a clear lead, Cutler’s strength suggests that the same three-way configuration that elected LePage in 2010 could again present itself. In that election, LePage won a 38-36-19 percent victory over Cutler and Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell, then a state senator.

At this point, Michaud has filed a 2014 gubernatorial exploratory committee, while both Cutler and the governor have made public their intention to run. The Democrats clearly want Cutler out of the race, but there is no suggestion that the Independent will withdraw. Based upon his strong 2010 finish and Maine’s penchant for looking favorably upon independent candidates – former Gov. Angus King was elected to the Senate in 2012 on the Independent line, for example – it will be difficult for the Democratic leadership to make it worthwhile for Cutler to exit.

Isolating Michaud and LePage in a secondary GQR ballot test question underscores just how detrimental the Cutler candidacy is to the Maine Democrats. If the Independent attorney were not in the race, GQR scores the race a whopping 61-34 percent in Michaud’s favor.

Right now, Rep. Michaud appears to be in a favorable position to unseat Gov. LePage, even in a three-way scenario, but things can change dramatically with so much time remaining in the campaign cycle. It remains to be seen if these are the kind of numbers that will convince Michaud to relinquish his safe House seat in order to pursue the statewide run.
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Canseco Mulling Comeback in Texas

Rep. Quico Canseco (R-TX-23), who lost 46-50 percent to Democratic state Rep. Pete Gallego in November, says he is considering making a comeback in 2014. The 23rd District is a marginal seat that has flipped between the two parties since 2004. The district stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso.

The 23rd is likely to be one of the 2013 redistricting focal points that must be addressed. Because the courts have not approved a permanent Texas map, work either in the state legislature or the jurisdictional judicial panel must occur next year. Now that the seat has a Democratic incumbent, expect more members of this party to be added. It is likely that, at the end of the new redistricting process, Representative-elect Gallego will have a more favorable district from which to seek re-election, particularly if the San Antonio three-judge panel finds itself drawing the new map.

The Early Targets

Even this early in an election cycle, some obvious 2014 targets are evident. In the Senate, majority Democrats must protect 20 seats versus 13 for Republicans. The GOP will need to convert six Democratic states in order to re-capture the majority for the first time since 2006.

In the House, it’s much too early to tell how the cycle will even begin to unfold, but the 2012 winners who scored at or below 50 percent normally find themselves in vulnerable situations two years later. There are 20 winners who scored a bare majority or less in their win last month.

Here’s how we see things lining up:

The Senate

Already, there appear to be four potential toss-up campaigns on the horizon at the very beginning of the election cycle.

Two states already have announced challengers to Democratic incumbents that many believe are headed for retirement despite the senators themselves saying they are planning a re-election campaign.

West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) officially announced that she will challenge five-term Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) in the next election. With West Virginia now trending deep red and Rockefeller launching verbal attacks against the state’s dominant coal industry, this race must be cast as an early toss-up. Should Rockefeller — who will be 77 years old at the time of the next election — not seek another term, Capito will be considered the early favorite.

Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) also has announced that he will run for the Senate in 2014. He will challenge three-term Sen. Tim Johnson (D). Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD-AL), who was just re-elected to a second term, also has not ruled out a Senate run, meaning that she would first have to challenge Rounds in the Republican primary. Publicly, she is not closing the door on any 2014 option. A Johnson-Rounds campaign would also have to be rated as an early toss-up. The senator would be favored against Rep. Noem.

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D) stands for a second term after defeating veteran Sen. Ted Stevens (R) by a slim 48-47 percent count in 2008. Stevens was fighting a Justice Department legal onslaught that fell apart on the prosecutors but only after Stevens had already lost to Begich. As you know, the senator was later killed in an airplane crash. This campaign will be interesting. A strong challenger such as Gov. Sean Parnell (R), could make this a very tight campaign.

Considering that North Carolina was only one of two states that switched from supporting Pres. Barack Obama in 2008 to Mitt Romney last month, freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D) will seek a second term and be rated in a toss-up campaign from Day One. There is no clear challenger on the horizon, but whomever the Republicans choose will be a serious contender.

The 2014 election cycle will be a long one, but count on these four Senate races grabbing a major share of the political attention for the next two years.

The House

Here’s a look at the 20 winners in 2012 who are right at or a bit below the 50 percent mark who could be vulnerable:

Below 50 percent

  • Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) – 47% (open seat)
  • Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9) – 48% (open seat)
  • John Tierney (D-MA-6) – 48% (incumbent)
  • Dan Benishek (R-MI-1) – 48% (incumbent)
  • Dan Maffei (D-NY-24) – 48% (challenger)
  • Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) – 49% (open seat)
  • Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) – 49% (incumbent)
  • Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2) – 49% (open seat)
  • Jim Matheson (D-UT-4) – 49% (incumbent)

At 50%

  • Ron Barber (D-AZ-2) – (incumbent)
  • Scott Peters (D-CA-52) – (challenger)
  • * Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) – (challenger)
  • Dan Schneider (D-IL-10) – (challenger)
  • Joe Heck (R-NV-3) – (incumbent)
  • Steven Horsford (D-NV-4) – (open seat)
  • Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1) – (challenger)
  • Annie Kuster (D-NH-2) – (challenger)
  • Bill Owens (D-NY-21) – (incumbent)
  • Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7) – (incumbent)
  • * Pete Gallego (D-TX-23) – (challenger)

* Italics: Seat will likely be re-drawn in 2013 redistricting.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Cruz Wins in Texas; Other Results

Ted Cruz


All the pre-election signs were predicting a Ted Cruz upset victory over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and the prognostications proved true in the Texas run-off vote last night. Cruz, identified as the clear conservative standard bearer with strong Tea Party support, racked up an impressive 56-44 percent win. Dewhurst has won three previous lieutenant governor statewide elections and another as lands commissioner. It was a crushing loss for for the wealthy lieutenant governor who spent $25+ million on the Senate race, about $17 million of which was self-contributed.

Cruz, the former Texas solicitor general, will now face former state representative Paul Sadler, who easily won the Democratic run-off. The new Republican nominee is the prohibitive favorite to capture the seat in November, winning the right to succeed retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R).

Turnout for the Texas run-off exceeded 1.1 million voters, about half of whom took advantage of the state’s early voting procedure. The state has a notoriously low primary and run-off history, but the raw number of ballots cast in yesterday’s election is among the highest ever recorded.

The run-off effectively produced a number of new congressmen who now will face only token opposition in the general election. In the new 25th District, former Secretary of State Roger Williams notched a 58-42 percent win to secure the GOP nomination and effectively win the seat.

In the Democratic 33rd District, Ft. Worth state Rep. Marc Veasey nipped former state representative and Dallas City Councilman Domingo Garcia in a battle of the two major Metroplex cities. Ft. Worth has the larger share of the district and each city voted overwhelmingly for their hometown candidate. Mr. Veasey effectively won a ticket to the House last night as the 33rd District is clearly a Democratic seat.

Traveling south to the Rio Grande Valley, the newly created 34th CD yielded a victory to Democratic attorney Filemon Vela. The presumptive congressman is from a prominent Brownsville family that sent his father to a federal judgeship and mother to the mayor’s office. He scored an easy 67-33 percent win. Like Veasey mentioned above, Vela will be coming to Washington as part of the new 113th Congress next January.

In new District 36, former one-term representative Steve Stockman, raising virtually no money for his run-off, nonetheless scored a win over financial advisor Steve Takach. With little in the way of general election competition, Mr. Stockman will win the general election and have a seat that he can hold, unlike the one he won back in 1994 where he lasted only one term.

In two run-offs that will yield competitive general elections, state Rep. Randy Weber easily defeated Pearland City Councilwoman Felicia Harris and now will face former Rep. Nick Lampson (D) in a seat that should favor the new Republican nominee. In the San Antonio to El Paso seat (District 23), Democratic state Rep. Pete Gallego successfully dispelled former US Rep. Ciro Rodriguez and will now face freshman GOP Rep. Quico Canseco. The 23rd is the only marginal seat in the Lone Star State.

Georgia Notes:

No real surprises came from the Georgia primary. All congressional incumbents of both parties were easily renominated in their respective elections.

In the new 9th District, the seat awarded Georgia in reapportionment, a Republican run-off will occur in what will be a safe GOP seat. State Rep. Doug Collins and radio talk show host Martha Zoller came within a point of each other, meaning the Aug. 28 run-off election will be a knock-down, drag-out brawl.

Another run-off will be held in District 12 for the right to challenge Rep. John Barrow (D) in an Augusta-based district where almost half of the territory is new to the incumbent. State Rep. Lee Anderson and businessman Rick Allen are the secondary election participants. Allen just nipped retired Navy officer Wright McLeod by under 600 votes to secure the second and final run-off position.

Dewhurst | Cruz

Texas Run-off Tomorrow

Dewhurst | Cruz

Voters go to the polls in Texas tomorrow to choose US Senate as well as several congressional nominees. The big Senate battle is on the Republican side, where three-term Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst fights to save his political credibility against former state solicitor general Ted Cruz. In the May 29 primary, Dewhurst placed first with 44.7 percent of the vote versus Cruz’s 34.1 percent.

The primary results place Dewhurst in a gray area as to whether he can develop a winning run-off coalition in a two-way race. Most often, a well-known candidate who fails to secure a majority of his own party’s vote in the primary election loses the subsequent run-off because the majority opposition only has one choice. Turnout and the candidate who has the most energized base tend to be the determining factors.

Internal polls released from both camps show their own candidate leading in the high single-digit range. The Cruz polling was conducted just among May 29 primary voters while the Dewhurst samples are from a likely voter model. The methodology difference lends more credence to the Cruz polls. The chances of seeing an upset win here are at least 50/50.

On the Democrat side, former state Rep. Paul Sadler and retired educator Grady Yarbrough battle for a ticket to the general election. Realistically, the winner of the Dewhurst-Cruz contest easily defeats the Dem winner in November, so tomorrow’s GOP run-off is likely race-determining.

On the congressional level, run-off voters in several districts will effectively choose House members. In the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, the 33rd Congressional District is one of four new seats awarded the state. A Democratic battle between Ft. Worth state Rep. Marc Veasey and former state representative and Dallas City Councilman Domingo Garcia is peaking. The race has become a rivalry contest between the two Metroplex cities. With more of the Ft. Worth area included in the new 33rd and placing first with a 37-25 percent margin, Veasey is viewed to be the favorite tomorrow. The Democrat winner claims the seat in November.

In the Rio Grande Valley, the new 34th Congressional District is anchored in the city of Brownsville and travels along the Gulf of Mexico coastline. Filemon Vela will likely win the Democratic nomination tomorrow against former congressional aide Denise Saenz Blanchard. Vela, an attorney, is the son of ex-federal judge Filemon B. Vela and former Brownsville mayor Blanca Sanchez Vela. His wife, a Republican, is a sitting district judge. Vela placed first in May with 40 percent of the vote against only 13 percent for Blanchard. The large spread suggests Vela is in strong run-off and general election position.

For the Republicans, in the district stretching from the southern tip of Tarrant County (Ft. Worth) into western Travis County (Austin), former Secretary of State Roger Williams, assuming that financial wherewithal is a determining factor, is poised to score a run-off victory against Tea Party activist and college professor Wes Riddle. Williams is projected to outspend Riddle by an 8:1 margin, but the latter should have a grassroots advantage. In a low turnout election, that could be significant but it is unlikely he can overcome Williams’ many advantages.

In the state’s fourth new district, the 36th CD to the north and east of Houston, first-place finisher Mark Takach, a financial advisor who placed just 350 votes ahead of former Rep. Steve Stockman in the primary, face each other tomorrow. The outcome here is difficult to predict. Takach is an unknown and Stockman served only one term back in 1995-97 in an adjoining area. The winner, however, becomes the prohibitive favorite for November.

In the open 14th District, the seat veteran congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul is vacating, two strong Republicans, state Rep. Randy Weber and Pearland City Councilwoman Felicia Harris, are fighting for the right to face ex-Rep. Nick Lampson (D) in the general election. The district clearly favors Republicans, but Lampson represented the Beaumont-Galveston region for four terms until his defeat in the redistricted 2nd CD that took him out of his regional base.

From the expansive district that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso, another defeated congressman, Ciro Rodriguez, is attempting yet another comeback. He placed first in the May 29 Democrat primary and now faces state Rep. Pete Gallego in tomorrow’s run-off. The Democrat establishment is clearly behind Gallego, who most believe will be the stronger opponent to freshman Republican Rep. Quico Canseco, but the San Antonio base still appears to be a Rodriguez asset. The general election will be a toss-up in what is Texas’ only real marginal congressional district.