Buzz Kill: Jack McDonald Pulls Out of Congressional Race

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Texas Democrats, still flying high after Bill White’s switch to the governor’s race, got some buzz-blunting news on Tuesday about their most promising congressional challenger for 2010. Jack McDonald, the tech-biz whiz who’d been raising beaucoup bucks since February for a race against Michael McCaul, the right-wingnut 10th District Republican, issued a statement (see below) saying that he was pulling out of the race—without any real explanation.  In the context of Democratic politics, McDonald qualified as a major hottie—and not just because of his Ken Doll-ish good looks. In a tough but increasingly friendly district (stretching from northwest Harris County to part of Austin) that went 55 percent for John McCain in the last election—down from 67 for W. in 2004—McDonald looked like a candidate from central casting. His business record and genial, moderate demeanor and politics would have made a happy contrast with the unhinged ideologue he’d have been challenging. And McDonald had already shown serious fundraising chops: He’d raised nearly $1 million, more than McCaul. National Democrats were paying attention to the race and seeing it as one of the party’s few chances to take a Republican seat in what’s bound to be a tough mid-term for the majority party. A blogger for Swing State Project  summed up the news from a Democratic perspective: “Well, here’s a fresh dose of suck.” McDonald hasn’t commented on his reasons for withdrawing. Swing State points out that it could be business-related: McDonald’s the former CEO of Austin-based tech-consulting firm Perficient Inc., and now chairs its board. Last month the NASDAQ-listed company reported a nasty decline in profits. With the Jan. 4 filing date fast approaching, Democrats are left to hope that somebody viable leaps into the race, and fast. But the chances that they’ll find somebody who can run the kind of campaign McDonald seemed poised to mount are mighty slim indeed. McDonald is no progressive, but he could have been just the ticket for Dems in the 10th. And might be again, come 2012. Here’s McDonald’s statement:”In February, after receiving strong encouragement from friends and supporters throughout Texas to consider running for United States Congress, we formed an Exploratory Committee to evaluate the race.”My wife, Carla, and I have been humbled by the broad and deep kindness and support we’ve received over the last 10 months from fellow Texans, including business, community and political leaders, Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike.”However, after careful consideration, and with the January 4 filing deadline approaching, I have decided against filing to enter the race. This was a difficult decision for me and one I did not make lightly. I approached the decision in the same way I have approached my business decisions over the years – in an informed, realistic and fiscally-responsible way. In the next few weeks, we will be offering to return to our supporters the generous contributions made to our committee.”For Carla and me, the last 10 months have provided some of the best and most enriching moments of our lives. It has been deeply gratifying to have had so many wonderful people from throughout the district and state share with us their hopes and concerns. We will always be grateful for the many wonderful new friends we have made over the last 10 months and the deeper bonds we have forged with our long-time friends.”As we look ahead, I remain more committed than ever to public service, to the need for more people in government who can put aside partisanship to do what’s right for Texas and America and to my work with the State of Texas’ Emerging Technology Fund and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce to create more good jobs in the state.”Thank you very much for your support and friendship over the last 10 months. It has meant the world to Carla and me. I wish you a joy-filled holiday and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010.”