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Texas Elections Disappoint Progressives

By Jim Lane and Paul Hill

GW Bush improved his 2000 win in his home state by 3 percent. He won Texas with 62%, although he did not do as well in the major cities. Dallas County went for Bush by 53% in 2000, but his margin was 50-49 in 2004.

Four of the five Democratic congressmen who had been been put into difficult districts by the redistricting of 2003 went down in flames. Only Congressman Chet Edwards was able to stay in Congress, and that may have only been because his opponent was one of the most bizarre of the right-wingers here.

Despite the hopes of progressives everywhere, Congressman Tom DeLay of Sugarland took 60% of the vote. He won in spite of pending legal and ethical problems concerning the way that he maneuvered the Texas redistricting. DeLay's opponent was endorsed by the Houston Chronicle because he "…promises to place the district's interests above grasping for partisan power in Washington…"

Another powerful newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, had endorsed Democratic Congressman Martin Frost against Republican Pete Sessions in a newly-created urban district. Sessions beat Frost, the labor movement's most important North Texas candidate and the "dean" of Texas' once-powerful Democratic delegation. These and other Texas newspaper endorsements showed that the ruling class in Texas was not united around the right-wing program.

Not all of the races followed the pattern. Dallas Democrats picked up three judgeships and elected a new sheriff that was called an outsider, the first woman, the first Latina, and the first openly gay person to take the office.

Texas voter turnout set records. Progressive groups were organizing strategy meetings even before Kerry conceded. A Dallas peace group called an outdoor strategy meeting for the day after the election. The Progressive Populist Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party said they would convene a strategy session within 2 weeks. One proposed agenda point would demand paper-trail balloting in Texas.

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