Yes, Virginia, there are Democrats in Fort Bend County...It finally hit the news this week that polls show that Barack Obama is going to whip John McCain like a rented mule. Of course, the cautionary tale here is the 18 points polls showed that
Michael Dukakis was ahead of George H.W. Bush at about this same time during the 1988 presidential election.
But what we are interested in today in this column is how the expected Democratic tsunami is going to affect Republicans in Fort Bend County. For many years, the Republican party in Fort Bend County has thought they were invincible. And they pert near were.
However, the primary in March was interesting in the number of people who voted in the Republican primary versus the number who voted in the Democratic primary. You’ve not heard these numbers circulated about but almost twice as many Democrats went to the polls as Republicans.
I don’t know if the Republicans in Fort Bend consider this their dirty little secret or they are burying their heads in the sand, but 69,785 Democrats voted in the March 4 primary, while only 35,104 Republicans bothered to go to the polls.
One thing I have not heard discussed is how this Barack phenomenon will affect politics as we know them in Fort Bend. Does he have a lot of down ballot pull (ability to help other candidates further down the ballot than the presidential race)? Are we going to see a resurgence of
the Democratic party in Fort Bend?
A little historical prospective; George Molina was the last Democrat to win a county-wide race, and he was elected sheriff the same year that Republicans captured most every other job in Fort Bend.
Let’s look at some of the other races where there is a Democratic opponent. In the commissioner, Precinct one race, which was very spirited on both the Republican and Democratic ballots, the Republican candidates received a total of 8,322 votes, while the Democratic candidates
polled 11,291 votes. That’s a lot of votes in November that the Republican candidate, Greg Ordeneaux, has to make up to defeat the Democratic candidate, Richard Morrison.
Other local races that may be decided by Obama’s down ballot appeal is the race for Congressional District 22 representative, currently being served by Nick Lampson after a Byzantine Republican faux pas when Tom DeLay withdrew from the ballot too late to mount a Republican
candidate. Lampson inherited the job and this will be his first fire by ballot for this position, not counting the Republican write in. He was formerly the representative from the Beaumont area, until he was gerrymandered out of his district and before that was the tax assessor/collector, so
he’s no stranger to politics in general.
In the CD22 race, Lampson received 33,017 votes in the Democratic primary, while the Republicans slugged it out in their primary with 10 candidates that was only able to draw 25,785 votes total. Here again, a lot of votes to make up.
Two Republican judges that are running for re-election (one has served before; one was appointed and this is his first race for this position although he has run before) are Cliff Vacek and Jim Shoemake. They are being challenged by two Democrats--Milton Flick and Albert Hollan,
The Republican judges who had no primary opponents drew 24-25,000 votes. The Democratic candidates, running unopposed in the primary, drew 42,000 votes. Aren’t some of you starving lawyers kicking yourself from not running against the Republican judge who is unopposed, and all the
other justices that get on the ballot that no one ever knows? Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. This might have been your year.
One issue on the Republican ballot (and it was the last thing on the ballot) which received a ringing endorsement from Fort Bend Republicans was the referendum to require all state and national politicians to stem illegal immigration and secure our borders. That (remember--the
bottom of the ballot) received 32,082 yea votes--more than for the other county-wide races of the judges and the sheriff.
So what does all this mean? It means that at least in Fort Bend County for the first time in more than a decade, the Republican party is in trouble and what a scant year ago we thought was unthinkable, nay, the impossible--a Democratic resurgence--is now probable.
Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.