Sadler Romps, Other COPE-Backed Candidates Excel in Runoffs
Labor-backed candidates ran strongly in a July 31 runoff election that saw an already right-wing Texas Republican Party electorate declare that the GOP establishment was too moderate for its tastes.
Paul Sadler won more than three of five votes in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, and will face Tea Party darling Ted Cruz, who was outspent 3 to 1 by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst but won going away. Cruz wants to repeal health care reform and privatize Social Security.
Also victorious under the banner of the COPE endorsement: Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who becomes the heavy favorite to represent the new Congressional District 33 in Dallas and Fort Worth; Terry Canales in Texas House District 40; Nicole Collier in Texas House District 95 (Veasey’s current seat); and Philip Cortez in Texas House District 117.
Two dual-endorsed candidates advanced as well. State Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, reversed a deficit in the primary election to defeat Ciro Rodriguez in CD 23. Gallego will challenge U.S. Rep. Quico Canseco, R-San Antonio, on Nov. 6. James Cargas prevailed over Lisa Squiers in CD 7.
The COPE defeats: Denise Saenz-Blanchard lost to Filemon Vela in CD 34, another new district in which Vela will be the heavy favorite; and Jamaal Smith lost to Gene Wu in HD 137.
The fireworks were on the Republican side, where no COPE runoff endorsements occurred. Besides the 57-43 trouncing that Cruz administered to Dewhurst, several incumbents lost legislative seats to candidates who essentially ran at them from the right: long-time Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, fell to Tea Party favorite Donna Campbell by a 2-to-1 margin; Rep. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, a former Democrat, lost to Travis Clardy; Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, lost to J.D. Sheffield; and Rep. Jim Landtroop, R-Plainview, fell to Ken King.
Republicans also nominated a right-winger from the past. Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman emerged from a crowded field to take the nomination in the new CD 36.
Turnout in the Republican primary was 1.1 million voters, as opposed to just 236,000 in the Democratic primary. But the Dewhurst-Cruz contest cost $40 million by some estimates, most of it pumped into TV advertising.
“The record of COPE-endorsed candidates in the Democratic primary and runoff elections was excellent,” Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller said. “For that we can thank thousands of union activists who voted and worked hard to get others to vote on election dates that we probably won’t see again and by and large for candidates who had little in the way of resources.”
“November, though, is a different story. From the top to the bottom of the ballot, if Democrats don’t match Tea Party enthusiasm, it will be a very long night and a bleak immediate future for the state of Texas. But if we stand and fight, the labor movement has a chance to help build a better Texas.”
“We have little time to gear up for Nov. 6. Every day matters, and if you are a union activist in this state, our future depends on your willingness to do everything in your power to help elect COPE-endorsed candidates.”
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