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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).

Campaign Web sites:

* Bonilla
* Rodriguez

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 30, 2006; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Posted by: Andrus | December 30, 2006 7:08 AM | Report abuse

I'll tell you what they should be taking aim at: Bush and Cheney and the underlying "rationale" behind the so-called "war on terror". Let's take a few moments and look at some of the details of the horrible event that precipitated the "war on terror" and around which America's foreign policy has been inextricably wrapped ever since.

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch, with someone who was there when he was attempting to fly a small airplane saying that Hanjour was so clumsy that he was unsure if he had driven a car before. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports after Mohammed Atta supposedly leaves two rental cars at two impossibly far-removed locations. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name ("Hi mom, this is Mark Bingham"), more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces most no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Use your heads for something besides a hatrack. Time to wake up America.

Posted by: Enlightenment | December 7, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Don't kid yourself, its not going to matter soon what party controls what, that age is over. In this dangerous time, courage, wisdom, and action is what counts. Have you noticed there is barely a word out of the Republican party? They know what is coming and in some ways, Bush and company are more then relieved that the responsibilty is now shared.

Posted by: nf | December 4, 2006 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Statewide Republicans may have outpolled their Democratic opponents 53-47 in this district; however, that is not a very large margin, particularly for a very dark red state like Texas. Furthermore, other than the Governor's race, Demacrats really did not make serious efforts in statewide races in Texas, while the DCCC is making a serious effort in this runoff. All things considered, the relatively close margin in statewide races in this district may give the Democrats some hope for an upset.

Posted by: Howard | December 1, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

'Will writes: "Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being - one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another."

This is truly Washington, in case you wonder what Washington truly is. Washington is a place where politics is just something you do all day. You lie, you send kids to war, you give them inadequate equipment, they're wounded and permanently maimed, they die, whatever. Then night falls, and you actually think you get to pretend that none of it matters. "How's your boy?" That, according to George Will, is a civil and caring question, one parent to another? It seems to me that it's exactly the sort of guy talk that passes for conversation in Bushworld, just one-up from the frat-boy banter that is usually so seductive to Bush's guests. George Bush once said to someone I know, "How old is that seersucker suit anyway?" and my friend (who should know better) went for it lock stock and barrel.

So finally someone said to George Bush, Don't think that what you stand for is beside the point. Don't think that because you're President you're entitled to my good opinion. Don't think that asking about my boy means that I believe for even one second that you care. If you did, you'd be doing something about bringing the troops home.

George Will thinks this is bad manners.

I don't.

I think it's too bad it doesn't happen more often.'

Posted by: Anonymous | December 1, 2006 8:49 AM | Report abuse

A long shot perhaps but Dems have nothing to lose in trying and are bolder now trying to compete everywhere thanks to Howard Dean.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | December 1, 2006 6:28 AM | Report abuse

I'll accept whatever RMill observes and predicts.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | November 30, 2006 10:48 PM | Report abuse

It was my understanding that Democrats ran a slew of candidates in this district in an effort to keep Bonilla below 50%. The 20% for Rodriguez should be less indicative of his chances than the 49% or so of votes that were cast for a Democrat or the 51% cast for someone besides Bonilla. The fact that Democrats now control the house could also change the dynamic of the race, though it's entirely likely that that will depress turnout from both parties. Should be an interesting race either way.

Posted by: peter | November 30, 2006 9:57 PM | Report abuse

"Even with the DCCC's investment, a win in this district looks like a long shot."

As did the Dem takeover of both the House and the Senate at the beginning of the summer.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | November 30, 2006 6:33 PM | Report abuse

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