February 15, 2006

"GOP voters still favor DeLay in District 22"

Kristen Mack does the primary. The title of this post is the headline:

When U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay showed up at a candidate forum in Sugar Land last week, one of his Republican primary opponents slipped to the back of the room after a short speech and another talked about the need for civility in Washington.

Then DeLay took the microphone, and his years as a fearsome political battler came to the fore as he passionately vowed to fight for the district and against Democrats, civility or no.

"You know me, you know how long and hard I have worked," DeLay said at the forum sponsored by the local chamber of commerce and Republican groups. "When I fight, we win."

The hometown crowd applauded enthusiastically.


Compared with the DeLay powerhouse, the challengers are little-known underdogs.

Anyone who took him on had to be somewhat of an outsider.

No prominent Republican would dare challenge DeLay, although many are watching to see how he fares when he goes on trial on Travis County money-laundering charges related to campaign finance.

Campbell's campaign hopes to convince voters that casting a ballot for DeLay in a primary amounts to ceding the seat to a Democrat.

Former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson is the only Democratic candidate, and will draw funding and support from across the nation from party members wanting to unseat the GOP heavyweight.

A lower-profile Republican, Campbell reasons, has a better chance of holding the district, which has a GOP voting history.

"Our challenge is to harvest the votes," said Michael Stanley, Campbell's campaign chairman. "DeLay's is to stop the bleeding."

Though he says he and DeLay agree on key issues -- Campbell backs smaller and more limited government, tax cuts and border control -- he abhors what he perceives as DeLay's ethical lapses.

"He can no longer be an effective advocate for the things that are important to us because of the baggage he has," Campbell said.

Campbell's campaign message is succinct. He has several one-liners that have become part of his stump speech:

"I believe 22 years is long enough."

"It's time to get back to the issues that are important to us."

"The public's business needs to be conducted with civility, decency and integrity."

With only a small team of campaign workers, though, Campbell is consumed with the minute details of the campaign.

It will take $400,000 to win the primary, Campbell said. He's raised $110,000 and has another $130,000 in commitments.
I love the anecdotes. Why? Because I see no evidence that DeLay will change his campaign style and be a softer DeLay. He'll campaign as outspoken as ever; just witness Mack's first couple paragraphs. And that makes for entertaining politics.

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