The `New Politics' Beats Incumbency, Money, and Cheney in Texas
``The perception of what it takes to win--all that was shattered by this election," newly elected Democratic Congressman Ciro Rodriguez began his victory speech Tuesday night in San Antonio, Texas. Rodriguez said it was due to a grass-roots mobilization, reminding people at the victory celebration that there were few who stood with him when the race began. The San Antonio Express News calls his 55 to 45 percent victory a "landslide." Rodriguez won 38,447 votes to Bonilla's 32,265 in an election that polls were giving to the Republican candidate just a week ago. The win gives Democrats a 233-202 margin in the House, one vote larger than the previous Republican majority.
Bexar (pronounced "bear") County, which includes the north, west and eastern "rim" of the city of San Antonio, comprised 45,524 of the 70,412 votes that were cast. The district includes University of Texas-San Antonio, with about 20,000 students, and Palo Alto U., both commuter colleges which were key targets of LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) organizing. The 18.38 percent turnout in the county, in a runoff election that most voters didn't even know about—until the LYM got there—was much bigger than poll officials expected, coming close to the 30.87% who voted in the Nov. 7 general election in that county.
An independent poll on Dec. 4, Survey USA/WOAI-TV, put Bonilla ahead of Rodriguez by 53-46%. Polls by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committeee (DCCC), which were never publicly announced, were reported to have the two candidates tied at 44% each (the rest undecided) about one week ago; a few days before the election, they showed Rodriguez ahead by 3 points, according to reports.
Among incumbent Bonilla's other mistakes, Dick Cheney came to campaign for him, according to the San Antonio Express.
Jaime Castillo writes in the San Antonio Express of Wednesday: "Rodriguez' win was an earthquake that continues the Democratic takeover.... Defying every political truism of Bexar County politics, Bonilla started the night by becoming the rare well-known Republican to not only lose early voting, but to lose it badly...." Rodriguez, age 60, had earlier served 8 years in Congress and 11 years in the state legislature.