Saturday, January 29, 2005

Standing up to DeLay?

By now you may have read that Martin Frost is challenging Dean in his private conversations with DNC members arguing "that Dean would be a poor choice because he could hurt Democratic efforts to compete in less liberal areas of the country."

Then yesterday, The Note ran this bit from Texas DNC chair Charles Soechting attacking Dean on Frost's behalf:
"...Martin refused to back down against enormous odds - standing up to DeLay and Rove by refusing to retire when their illegal redistricting scheme forced him into a 65% GOP district."
He refused to retire? He ran as an Washington incumbent against a Republican challenger! That's refusing to back down? I wonder what other Democratic congressmen would have done if faced with redistricting.

In the case of Rep. Chet Edwards: run and win.

First let's read a bit about TX-17 from Edwards' site:
The 17th Congressional District of Texas is a new district, created in 2003 by the Texas Legislature. The 17th is a geographically diverse district—spanning from the suburbs of Fort Worth in the North, through the Heart of Texas in Waco and to the Bryan/College Station area in the South. The district includes all of Bosque, Brazos, Grimes, Hill, Hood, Johnson, Madison, McLennan and Somervell counties and part of Burleson, Limestone and Robertson counties.
That doesn't sound so bad. Maybe his district actually favored Democrats and he was able to campaign to an easy victory. But that's not what the GOP thought of TX-17. The National Republican Congressional Committee had this to say about Rep. Chet Edwards, his GOP opponent and his "endangered" status:
Republican state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth will face Democrat Rep. Chet Edwards in the general election to represent the people of Texas’ newly redrawn 17th District. After squeaking out two narrow victories in the 2000 and 2002 races in the former 11th District, Edwards is considered an "endangered incumbent" by Congressional Quarterly’s "Politics in America." The 17th Congressional District seat favors Republicans, which also gives Wohlgemuth a distinct advantage in the race. Republicans view this seat as a pick-up opportunity.
OK, so the GOP saw Edwards' district as favoring Republicans and Edwards as an "endangered incumbent." So I guess he would have to tone down the Democratic rhetoric since he was running in a newly redistricted area of a solidly red state. The following is from the front page of Edwards campaign website:
"I believe government should not try to solve every problem. But private enterprise and government—working together—should ensure that everyone willing to work hard and play by the rules has a fair chance for a good job, a decent home in a safe community, affordable health care, and a quality education for their children and retirement security."

This race is about giving the citizens of our area an effective voice in Congress on issues that matter to us and our families in our day to day lives: jobs, safe neighborhoods, quality schools, affordable health care and retirement security.
Now to be fair to Frost, he was facing a real uphill battle with a tough redistricting that put him at a disadvantage. Or to use the words of Tom DeLay:
"He can work hard and raise all the money he wants," Mr. DeLay said. "But that district wasn't drawn for Martin Frost."
Althought this is a precious quote, it still leaves this quote from Frost out there to contrast with Edwards' quotes above (emphasis mine):
"I am a proud Democrat, but I am just as proud to stand with President Bush whenever he is acting in the national interest. I broke with a majority of my own party to support the President's decision to send American troops to Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime. Two years ago, I was the only Democrat on the Select Committee on Homeland Security to vote to create the new Department of Homeland Security and, unlike my opponent, I supported President Bush's bipartisan 'No Child Left Behind Act' to improve public education."
In the end, Edwards beat Wohlgemuth 51% to 47% in TX-17. Frost lost to Sessions 54% to 44% in TX-32. I'm sure Frost had the harder to the two roads here. I'm sure he was the victim of political dirty tricks that may yet still be ruled illegal. I'm sure what happened to him was a travesty and removed from congress a Democrat with an excellent voting record for our side. But Edwards was a target of the NRCC too. He too was redistricted. He too was equally a target of the GOP and their noise machine (the Club for Growth spent more than $230,000 in advertising against him).

Yet Edwards won. Soechting's claim that Frost running for re-election as an example of standing up to DeLay or that Frost's campaign is an example for Democrats in a red state just doesn't hold water. In fact, it's laughable.