Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Has Lampson been "chosen"? Is Watts anti-choice?

The two early "front-runners" for the right to challenge John Cornyn in 2008 have been generating some undesirable blog coverage of late. To wit, my friend Boadicea:

As Rep Nick Lampson continues recovering from his heart surgery, he's making plans for his political future that seem likely to leave a lot of his supporters in the district very unhappy.
The Battle for TX-22 was a hard fought one in 2006. Replacing a wounded Delay (who left the race after the primary in vain hope of allowing the RPT to name a successor) took the combined efforts of a determined candidate, the DCCC and other established Dem powers, and bloggers and other activists sowing blue seeds in a determinedly red district.
One of the frequent questions at house parties dealt with the "carpetbagger" meme the right wing was smearing Lampson with. In response candidate Lampson always said he was not running as a one off, but to be the Rep from TX-22 for many years to come.
Now incumbent Rep. Lampson seems preparing an altogether different tune, as the rumors swell that pressure is on to clear the field to anoint him as the Senate candidate against beleaguered John Cornyn (R-Box Turtle).
Not only is he preparing for different race, but apparently having exhausted his rolodex looking for a Dem to step in and run, he's now wooing a Republican, Tom Abraham, to crossover and run on the Dem ticket. What are the odds?

I attended the Texas Democratic Party's town hall last Saturday at the University of Houston, and it was obvious to me that Lampson was being anointed as the party's standard-bearer for the Senate '08.

I like Nick Lampson. A lot. I first voted for him when I lived in Jefferson County in the '80's when he ran for tax-assessor/collector. I went to high school with one of his nieces; we were in drama classes and UIL competitions together. I've known Nick for decades, and I have supported his candidacy for every office he has stood for.

But he won't be my choice for Senator.

He's run to the left and governed to the right as a Congressman, both in the 2nd as well as the 22nd. He supports the war in Iraq, opposes cutting off the funding for it, and has had observed difficulty declaring his unqualified support for women's reproductive freedom. He is beholden to the consultantocracy for their help in getting him back to Washington, and he's leaning heavily on their advice again as he plans his next promotion (look for him to announce around June 1).

Like my man David, I want the people to decide who runs, not the elites.

Which brings me to super-lawyer Mikal Watts, late of San Antonio, and even though the bipartisan Texas Shark Watch hates the guy (which usually earns a person stars in my ledger) RG Ratcliffe's entry today at the Chronic's very good Texas Politics blog has more disturbing news. Under the headline "Is Mikal Watts an anti-abortion Democrat for the US Senate?"
A Republican recently told me that San Antonio lawyer Mikal Watts was doing a poll to explore a 2008 race challenging the re-election of Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.
The poll supposedly included a question like: If you knew John Cornyn was pro-choice, would you support a pro-life Democrat for U.S. Senate?

Austin pollster Jeff Smith confirmed that he was polling for Watts, but he said what was reported by the Republican was a "distortion" of the question on the poll. However, Smith declined to describe the language used in the poll, saying it was proprietary information belonging to Watts.

That was more than a week ago. Since that time, I have left repeated messages at Watts' law offices in San Antonio and Corpus Christi to ask him about the question on his poll.

Watts has yet to call me back.

So we can only wonder whether he's the Democrat in question in the poll; whether he's personally opposed to abortion but supports a woman's right to choose whether to have one; or whether he would run as an anti-abortion candidate?
Cornyn in 2003 received a 0 percent rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League, not exactly the "pro-choice" candidate the question implies.

I'd like a straight answer to the questions Ratcliffe is asking you, Mr. Watts.

And I'd also like to see our nascent populist movement for a people's candidate gain some traction by hearing the candidate announce his candidacy.

Update (5/24, a.m.): A commenter at the Chronblog link above notes that he took the survey in question, and the question ...
...if you knew Watts was a pro-life democrat, would this make you much more likely, more likely, etc.

This makes much more sense than having Cornyn's name and 'pro-choice' mentioned together.
Update (5/24, p.m.): Markos underscores ...
Cornyn is surprisingly unpopular. We can win this one, but not with Nick Lampson.

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