February 23, 2006

Tom DeLay's press conference with the Texas GOP delegation; Campbell's press availability and poll

I was in the area, but detained until right before the start of the press conference. I sprinted over, arriving more than a little out of breath, with my notebook in hand to pretend like I was a real reporter. One thing about political rallies that I'd never experienced from the other side: if you hold a notebook in your hand, no one in the crowd will talk to you.

The overarching theme for the day was Tom DeLay's power and what he has done for district 22 and Houston at large. The work DeLay had done for funding NASA was cited over and over by the Congressmen, as well as funding DeLay had secured for the Port of Houston, transportation and mobility projects, and research.

Henry Bonilla spoke first, and set an enthusiastic tone. Bonilla's claim: "[Delay has had] as big of an impact on Texas politics as LBJ." He further offered that DeLay didn't ask the Congressmen to come, but that "we asked him to come here." (I checked this out with various non-DeLay congressional sources who told me that Bonilla's office did in fact make the calls.)

Y'know what's great about being a blogger? I don't have to organize this stuff. So here are the things I wrote down in my notebook. These are some random quotes and observations.

Fort Worth's Kay Granger followed Bonilla, then Kevin Brady. Brady spoke at length on DeLay's work in funding Houston mobility, and credited DeLay with Texas' sales tax deduction. Pete Sessions was up next, followed by John Carter. Carter labeled DeLay the "best member of Congress in America." John Culberson: "The Chronicle never reports on all the magnificent work Tom and Christine have done on foster care." Then Judge Poe spoke, while Sam Johnson arrived. DeLay had a big grin on his face the whole time, and started turning pretty red somewhere around this point.

Newly elected East Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert opened with a joke, and some of the reporters even cracked a smile. Somewhere during this time, the cell phone of one of the Chronicle writers was vibrating repeatedly (and loudly, for vibrate mode). Sam Johnson from Plano spoke, and then DeLay's 1984 classmate Joe Barton spoke for a long time on DeLay's integrity ("I'll stake my reputation that he's a man of integrity"). Barton also promoted DeLay's work on port security over the years.

DeLay came on and talked about how he ran for Congress to support Reagan's tax cuts and win the Cold War, and how the issues were remarkably similar today: tax cuts and war on terror. He offered that the press conference was at University of Houston because "I take advantage of my members...may be asking for help [for UH] soon."

On the Bush administration's proposed port deal, DeLay said that it was, "not just a bad idea, it's a national security risk" and that Congress "would have an important role to play in changing this policy."

He also got in a few shots at the "liberal extremists funding Nick Lampson's campaign" and that Lampson would support "Nancy Pelosi's agenda." They then decamped to the lunch room, which was closed to the press. Apparently, that includes bloggers...I guess that's a compliment!

Tom Campbell was holding a press availibility, so I wandered around until I found them. Unfortunately for them, UH's parking is pretty crowded, so they were kinda far off from the UH Hilton, which made the media attendance sparse, at least while I was there.

Some themes and quotes from Campbell:

* Now that he's not Majority Leeader, DeLay's power is "more perceived than real."
* I can win this district in November; DeLay can't.
* While he isn't getting any public endorsements, elected officials are telling him off the record that he will have their vote.
* His polls showed him neck-and-neck with DeLay
* DeLay's recent attacks on him were good for his name ID in the district.

Campbell shared that they'd done an internal autodialer tracking poll by OneNet Info (whom I'm unfamiliar with, and I know lots of pollsters) over the last few days which showed Campbell with 47%, DeLay with 38%, and Other with 14%. He claimed that this was an improvement over some of their recent polling, though he conceded that with only 151 respondents, the margin of error was quite large (his campaign puts it at 9%, I suspect it might be even larger since Dr. Hill put the Chron's recent poll with 213 respondents at a 9% margin of error).

Some thoughts on the poll:

1. I agree with Campbell about his name ID. One of the dangers that DeLay faced when they chose to attack Campbell was that they would raise his name ID. Attacking raises name ID.

2. DeLay's camp clearly has some fear of Campbell. At the outset, they said that Campbell was a credible challenger. But not only does DeLay want to win, they don't want to eke out a small victory. The decision to attack shows that they thought attacking was worth raising his name ID.

3. Although I think Campbell's name ID is higher because of the attacks, I'm not sure I buy that it's above 40% yet. I talked with a few folks around the district, and they agreed with me.

4. A poll that offers only Campbell, DeLay, and "Other" as responses will push some Baig or Fjetland voters into Campbell's camp. Campbell conceded to me that they were pushing people to make a choice between Campbell and Delay.

5. DeLay's campaign claims that they've heard from people outside the district who were polled, and also questioned the poll's methodology as confusing.

6. I don't think Campbell is winning right now, despite what his internal polls show. I would definitely require more polling that says so before I believed that to be true. Internal polling always overstate their candidate's support; it's an axiom of politics. Though I don't question their good faith, it cuts against my intuition and my anecdotal evidence. But then, the great thing about politics is that we'll know who is wrong or right in the next few days.

Now that I've written my post, let me go see what the reporters wrote about the press conference.

UPDATE: Here's how Kristen Mack from the Chronicle wrote up the story:
Ten Republican members of the Texas congressional delegation, including a few who owe their jobs to redistricting engineered by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, came to Houston on Thursday to endorse the incumbent.

"We're not here because Tom DeLay is 'The Hammer' or because Tom DeLay is some intimidating, threatening character," said Rep. Joe Barton of Ennis, referring to DeLay's nickname as an enforcer of party discipline. "We're here because he's been a leader and a voice for positive conservative change."

UPDATE 2: Here's how Wendy Benjaminson from the AP led her story:
U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay was likened to Stonewall Jackson, Lyndon Baines Johnson and a courageous World War I officer today as members of the Texas Republican congressional delegation joined the former House majority leader to endorse his re-election.

The unusual display of GOP solidarity was remarkable for DeLay, who is aggressively campaigning for re-election to the seat he has held comfortably for 22 years. This year he faces a contested primary March 7, and if he wins, a credible candidate in Democrat Nick Lampson in November.

"He's got a contested primary; that's why we're here," said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis.

Playing reporter

Today, Tom DeLay held an early voting rally and luncheon at the UH Hilton featuring members of the Texas Republican congressional delegation. The congressmen were pretty enthusiastic. Afterwards, Tom Campbell had a press availability that I stopped by until I had to literally run to get to my next appointment.

My report will follow tonight. In the nature of blogging, hopefully it'll be a little different than your average story.

I haven't gotten a chance to play reporter since I was an assistant editor of my high school newspaper. I'm out of practice.

February 22, 2006

DeLay criticizes port deal; picks up Chamber endorsement


U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said Wednesday that President Bush is making a big mistake backing a sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.

The former Republican majority leader said the administration's approval of the deal is "pretty outrageous." DeLay made the remarks during a campaign event with Houston real estate executives.


"When it's a matter of national security, the president will be overturned," DeLay said in an account that appeared on the Web site of the Austin American-Statesman. "We will overturn it within the next few weeks."
I can't yet find coverage of this on the Houston Chronicle's website, but I wouldn't be surprised if they have their own story soon.

Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce gave DeLay an award and endorsed him.

When you're the incumbent, it's easier to make news.

Talking about money

Jonathan Kaplan -- The Hill:

Hollywood celebrities and prominent corporate executives have poured thousands of dollars into the campaign of former Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) to knock off Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Screenwriter and producer Norman Lear, director Rob Reiner, actress and singer Barbara Streisand and musician Don Henley have written checks to Lampson, according to politicalmoneyline.com, a website that tracks campaign contributions.

Reiner and Streisand kicked in $1,000, and Lear and Henley sent Lampson $4,200.


Lampson also has scooped up money from the chief executives of major corporations. Andrew Rappaport, a major investor and philanthropist, and his wife, Deborah, donated $2,100 each. Lawrence Tesler, CEO of Yahoo; Arnold Hiatt, CEO of the Stride Rite Foundation; and Richard Thalheimer, CEO of the Sharper Image; and George Zimmer, CEO of Men’s Wearhouse, wrote $1,000 checks to Lampson.

Former politicians, such as, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), have helped out as well.

Daschle directed $10,000 from his leftover campaign chest to Lampson, and Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.) and Rep. John LaFalce (D-N.Y.) each sent $1,000 checks. President Clinton's first chief of staff, Mack McClarty, gave $500.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have contributed $10,000 each from their leadership PACs, and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has donated $5,000.
Leonard Nimoy also donated to Lampson, I saw on Lampson's list. I guess Mr. Spock doesn't like DeLay.

I think it's fair to say that one of the left's big goals this election cycle is to defeat DeLay. So it's not too much of a surprise to see Hollywood donating to Lampson.

Meanwhile, DeLay's camp claims that:

60% of DeLay's money is from TX, 40% from outside
30% of Lampson's money is from TX; 70% percent from outside
I didn't check those numbers (you think I want to sit around with a spreadsheet?), but they looked about right after I flipped through the campaign finance reports.

I feel fairly confident that we will see these numbers again in a television screen nearest you.

Sometimes, I get lazy:

Ex-NOAA Gen. Counsel Tom Campbell (R) will release his third TV ad today, in which "he pledges not to go negative in the campaign, despite" the "attacks being made" on him by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX). In the ad, while Campbell acknowledges that DeLay "has done some good things" in Congress, he also argues that with DeLay's "personal and legal problems and the threat of further disclosures hanging over his head, he simply can't be effective in Washington." A Campbell consultant described the ad buy in the "tens of thousands," and noted it will be run locally on CNN and Fox.

DeLay spokesperson Shannon Flaherty "dismissed Campbell's assertions" in the ad as "resorting to Democratic attacks to just get some attention." Flaherty, on Campbell: "He has very little support here in the district and very few people know who he is."

Meanwhile, according to Flaherty, DeLay is "actively encouraging supporters to vote early," and is sending out 3 separate mailings this week to GOP voters "highlighting his anti-abortion rights record, his support for gun rights and his commitment" to the GOP philosophy of tax cuts and budget reform. Flaherty: "While [Campbell] is still trying to introduce himself to Republican primary voters in his home county, Congressman DeLay is already targeting folks who have supported him and getting them to the polls" (Preston, "Morning Grind," CNN.com, 2/21).
That's from The Hotline.

Bob Perry paid for pro-DeLay, anti-Soros ad

Samantha Levine and Kristen Mack have this in the Chronicle:

Houston homebuilder Bob Perry is the sole funding source for a $200,000 TV advertising campaign that supports Rep. Tom DeLay and criticizes Democratic financier George Soros.

Perry, a longtime Republican donor, gave the entire amount that the conservative Committee for Free Enterprise used on the 30-second spot, according to spokesman Anthony Holm. The committee, rather than Perry, is identified in the ad as the sponsor.

"Mr. Perry felt the truth needed to be told and this was the best vehicle to do so," Holm said. "Mr. Perry believes Tom DeLay has done an excellent job protecting jobs, NASA, and our borders. He spent it as the result of the several unjustified attacks on Tom DeLay."


Perry, a close friend of President Bush's top political aide, Karl Rove, has given millions to Texas GOP candidates, including DeLay.

Perry and his wife, Doylene, each contributed $5,000 late last year to DeLay's legal defense fund.


Soros spokesman Michael Vachon said, "Tom DeLay must be pretty desperate if he's trying to blame George Soros for his troubles."

The ad says Soros has bankrolled efforts to defeat DeLay and President Bush and supports "legalizing drugs, letting felons vote and keeping the death tax."
It never looks particularly good to voters when one donor paid for the entire campaign of an outside ad. But if it serves to further polarize the electorate, then it might be good for DeLay and bad for Lampson.

February 21, 2006

Early voting begins today

Tuesday is the start of early voting.

Rumor has it that Campbell's first mail piece dropped Monday or Tuesday.