Whether the currents that turned Dallas County blue in 2006 become a rip tide back to the GOP bears watching today. Courthouse candidates such as District Attorney Craig Watkins—he of the national reputation for reversing wrongful convictions—and a number of Democratic statehouse incumbents could face upset if Democratic voters are as apathetic in 2010 as Republicans were in the mid-term four years ago.
In House District 107 in northeast Dallas, Republican Kenneth Sheets is taking on two-term Democratic incumbent Allen Vaught. Sheets, a lawyer who has been on TV more than Jim “The Hammer” Adler, is packing a congressional-sized budget and waging a state-of-the-art ( i.e. mostly negative) campaign. A sample from one Vaught mailer last week as he tried to return fire: “Lie #2: Sheets claims Vaught voted to “increase his office budget” and “spend taxpayer money” in 2008. Truth: The House was not in session that YEAR.”
In District 102, Democrat Carol Kent beat entrenched GOP Rep. Tony Goolsby in 2008. Now Stefani Carter is trying to put the North Dallas seat back in Republican hands.
In District 101, what had been a traditionally Republican seat went to Democrat Robert Miklos of Mesquite in 2008. Two years later, Mesquite Republican Cindy Burkett is seeking a return to the norm.
Another set of races that bear watching involve incumbents embroiled in scandal who now are feeling some heat on Election Day.
In District 113, Republican Joe Driver, a staunch fiscal conservative, admitted he took more than $17,000 in taxpayer money for travel expenses that his campaign had already paid for. This has put hope in the heart of challenger Jamie Dorris in a suburban Garland district that usually offers few good things for Democrats.
Democrat Loretta Haldenwang is taking on longtime Republican incumbent Linda Harper Brown in District 105, in northern Irving. Earlier this year, Harper-Brown was found in possession of 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550 owned by a state highway contractor.
Although the 30th Congressional District is too gerrymandered for any Democrat to lose, news that incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson was handing out scholarships to her family that were meant for deserving students was enough to earn GOP challenger Stephen Broden an endorsement from The Dallas Morning News. The paper assured readers, “Broden’s more extreme ideas, such as phasing out Social Security, have no chance in Washington.” Three weeks later, the News rescinded its nod when the Dallas preacher told an interviewer that violent overthrow of the government is an “option on the table.” Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Broden, a Tea Party favorite, apparently still stands.