House Democrats Take Aim at Bonilla
Continuing the aggressive spending that won them 29 seats on Nov. 7, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is up with television ads in Texas's 23rd District where Rep. Henry Bonilla (R) and former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) will square off in a Dec. 12 runoff.
The DCCC ad, which was produced by GMMB, alleges that Bonilla has "neglected our veterans" by supporting billion of dollars in cuts to veterans' benefits and voting "against extending health care to our National Guard." The ad's narrator says Rodriguez "fights for our returning heroes" and represents the "change we need."
According to independent expenditure reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission, the DCCC is spending $154,000 to run the commercials. The National Republican Congressional Committee is not currently on the air in the district.
Even with the DCCC's investment, a win in this district looks like a long shot. Redrawn this summer following a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that a 2003 re-redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act, the massive south Texas 23rd District is now 61 percent Hispanic -- up from 51 percent under the previous lines. According to the Texas Legislative Council, Republican candidates running for statewide office in 2004 won an average of 53 percent of the vote in that areas that make up what is now the 23rd District, while Democrats took 47 percent.
Bonilla won just 49 percent of the vote on Nov. 7 -- missing the chance to avoid a runoff by a single point. Rodriguez, who represented a neighboring district from 1996 until 2004, received just 20 percent. All told, Bonilla won 60,147 votes to Rodriguez's 24,593 -- a daunting margin for the Democrat to make up in five weeks.
Bonilla also carries a massive financial edge over Rodriguez. In financial reports covering contributions and expenditures through Oct. 18, Bonilla showed nearly $2 million in the bank compared with just $23,000 for Rodriguez. The DCCC can make up some of that fundraising deficit, but not all of it.
The 23rd District is one of only a handful House races not yet decided. The others are Louisiana'S 2nd District, where state Rep. Karen Carter (D) is trying to unseat Rep. William Jefferson (D) in a Dec. 9 runoff; Ohio's 15th District, where the contest between Rep. Deborah Pryce (R) and Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) has gone to a recount; and Florida's 13th District, where banker Christine Jennings (D) is contesting the results of her narrow loss to automobile dealer Vern Buchanan (R).
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