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Bell Forced Into Early Retirement

Waters appeared on behalf of Green in the district in the days leading up to the primary, and the CBC political action committee cut Green a $5,000 check. Wynn, Reps. Mel Watt (N.C.), Donald Payne (N.J.) and Sanford Bishop (N.C.) — all CBC members — also contributed to Green’s campaign. Green also funneled more than $300,000 of his own money to the race.

Waters was seen high-fiving Wynn and Thompson on the House floor Wednesday morning.

Some Leaders Mad at CBC

The decision by CBC members to weigh in financially against a fellow incumbent disappointed a number of Democratic Members, who noted that embattled black former Reps. Earl Hilliard (Ala.) and Cynthia McKinney (Ga.) had both been supported by the Democratic Caucus in their ultimately unsuccessful primary challenges in 2002.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) offered a measured response when asked about the impact of the CBC’s backing of Green over Bell.

“I don’t think there is any doubt there are discussions within the Caucus” about the race, he said. When pressed to elaborate on the details of the Caucus discussions, Hoyer said: “I could, but I’m not going to.”

One senior Democratic leadership aide was less charitable.

“There’s unhappiness on all sides,” said the aide. “But many are unhappy that some of the CBC members would do that and that there should be a policy to support incumbents.”

Several other Democratic aides said leaders are likely to hold private talks with some of the Members who backed Green, stressing the unwritten rule that — regardless of race or personal friendships — the Caucus will support incumbents.

One CBC member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a lot of the hard feelings could have been avoided if the Democratic leaders engaged in “discussions with the CBC when the demographics became evident.”

This Member, who supported Al Green, said the situation was unique given that the district’s lines had been redrawn, and the minority population there.

“The situation is unfortunate, but I don’t think it represents a schism,” in the Caucus, the Member added.

Caucus politics aside, Green dominated Bell in Harris County — the district’s population center — nearly doubling the incumbent’s vote totals.

While Bell’s political fate is sealed, Rodriguez appears to have escaped an unwanted end to his political career.

With all of the votes counted, he defeated Cuellar by 126 votes.

“We knew it was going to be a tough and close race,” said Rodriguez spokesman John Puder. “Even a one-vote margin is enough for me.”

As expected, the race came down to a geographic battle between Cuellar’s base in Laredo (Webb County) and Rodriguez’s base in San Antonio (Bexar County).

Cuellar beat Rodriguez by 10,284 votes in Webb; he lost Bexar by 8,070.

Rodriguez coupled his margin in Bexar with victories in five of the nine other counties in the district to put him over the top.

In the new 25th district, Doggett, the only other Democrat incumbent seen as vulnerable, rolled to a 61 percent victory.

Doggett used his huge campaign war chest to overwhelm Hinojosa despite the district’s 64 percent Hispanic voting-age population.

Three Big Runoffs on Tap

Runoffs were the order of the day in several Democratic-held seats that will be heavily targeted by national Republicans.

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