Page 6


BACKYARD BRAWLS: HD3 CAIN VS. HOMER Pfl-oo th9, Turns out you don’t need a time machine to look into the past. Just travel up to House District 3 in East Texas, where one middle-aged, white Democrat defends his seat against a middle-aged, white Republican in a place that hasn’t changed much since we joined the Union. Politicos have a macabre obsession with this perennially supercompetitive race. Never mind that it’s like watching television reruns. Each election season, an ambitious Republican decides to challenge state Rep. Mark Homer, a conservative Democrat from Paris who represents one of the most Republican districts held by a Democrat. This year the challenger is Erwin Cain, whose name sounds like something out of the 19th century. Expect to hear ominous voices say this is the year to take out Homer. The district favors Republicans in statewide and national races by more than 20 percent. Cain has $100,000 more than Homer on hand. He has the obligatory attractive kids with perfect teeth. His website has captions like “Family Man” and “Church”in case voters weren’t getting that this guy is really goddamn wholesome. Homer has a Cher-like resiliencehe’s the political version of those cockroaches that survived when a meteor killed the dinosaurs. Though conservative, white Democrats over 40collectively known as the WD40shave lost to Republicans across the state, Homer has hung on since he first won in 1999. He’s won as a local businessman who owns 18 Sonic drive-ins, and he’s established himself beyond the Democratic label. He’s proved himself to be up for a challenge, but he’s never been challenged by a competitor this serious in a year this tough for Democrats. Expect to be up late on election night if you want to see who wins. ABBY RAPOPORT Read about other competitive races at texasobserverorg TH11111111111 THE VALLEY Texas where Anglos still dominate. It’s a small pocket, just 1,600 residents. The island, a gleaming desert of white sand between the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre, is sprinkled with high-rise condominiums, hotels, eateries and watering holes, and gated communities. In off-season October on a Sunday night, there were few residents or tourists. At Mooncussers, there was no question to whom this event was targeted. Upwards of 500 area locals, mostly college students ranging from button-down lawyer wannabes to heavily tattooed, addicted-to-ink types \(including one with five 8-inch spikes atop his head, each bleached blond at the thump -thump -thump administered by DJ Gabriel Castle on a deck next to the water. Kids undulated in unison in a crowd that included none of the Valley’s old-school political regulars. Among the two photographers from area newspapers were four 20-somethings wearing convincing “press credential” cards around their necks that read: “Social Media” and recording things with tiny cameras and smart phones. The scene awakened in me an earlier conversation with Uribe, who told me he’d been astonished that he posted a piece about Gov. Rick Perry’s failed policies on Facebook and sent out an e-mail blast providing a link to contribute, and received $1,200 within 24 hours. “That stuff works,” he said. “I wish I had discovered it months ago.” In another state, another Democratic Party, he would have. At Mooncussers, workers and volunteers with Organizing for America, Voto Latino, and at least three College Democrats’ groups were working the crowds with clipboards, registration applications and volunteer sign-up forms. “We’ve registered more than 200 here,” said Leti Leo of La Joya, holding up a thick stack of registration applications. “And I don’t have to twist anyone’s arm; they’re coming up because they want to get registered.” Voter sign-ups have also been brisk among the estimated 36,000 students at University of Texas campuses at Brownsville and Pan American in Edinburg, Leo said. Same with the Brownsville Community College and the various campuses of South Texas College. “At South Texas, I know they’ve gotten over 2,000, and a lot of the teachers at the high schools are doing the same kind of thing,” she said. Francisco Rodriguez, president of UT Brownsville’s Young Democrats, said, “I think we’ve created a good buzz with the youth. A lot of what we’ve done is new media stuff, something we picked up from the Obama campaign. It just caught on.” Will the Democratic groups’ voter drives unleash the long-untapped potential of South Texas voters? Will the presence of Latinos high on the ballot make the difference? “I do think that with Linda and Hector on the top of the ballot, there will definitely be a bump down there,” Aldrete said. The question is how big that bump will be. El Carlos Guerra, who lives in San Antonio, is a retired colunntistlitr the San Antonio Express-News. “My point is that I don’t have another persona; I will tell you what I think and I’m not going to change it to please people.” 20 ,! THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG