McCaul’s Victory Highlights Texas Runoff Results

Posted April 14, 2004 at 9:16am

Former U.S Attorney Mike McCaul crushed businessman Ben Streusand in the 10th district GOP runoff, the most high-profile of Texas’ five Congressional contests on Tuesday.

Endorsed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) as well as Texas GOP Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, McCaul received 63 percent of the runoff vote to Streusand’s 37 percent.

McCaul carried both of the population centers at the opposite corners of this barbell-shaped district.

He won with 52 percent in Harris County (Houston), which was Streusand’s geographic base, and by a much more convincing 73 percent in Travis County (Austin).

The result was a stunning victory for McCaul, who five weeks earlier had trailed Streusand in primary voting 28 percent to 24 percent.

Both men spent heavily from their own pockets in the contest. Streusand disbursed more than $3 million, McCaul nearly $2 million.

No Democrats even filed for this strongly Republican seat, ensuring that McCaul will be the next Congressman from the district.

The winners of the other two closely watched runoffs will not have such an easy path in November.

In the East Texas 1st district, former state District Judge Louie Gohmert (R) defeated 2002 4th district nominee John Graves (R) 57 percent to 43 percent.

Much like in the March 9 primary, Gohmert used his strong base in Smith County (Tyler) to overwhelm Graves’ relatively strong performance in the more rural parts of the district.

Gohmert took 77 percent in Smith, a vote total that comprised 65 percent of all the ballots cast for him in the contest.

Graves won nine of the district’s 13 counties but due to the small population in many of them was unable to overcome Gohmert’s margin in Smith.

Gohmert moves on to a general election fight with Rep. Max Sandlin (D), who has served in Congress since 1996.

The 1st district is perhaps the most difficult hold for Democrats in the Lone Star State.

Republican redistricters redrew the district’s boundaries to heavily favor the GOP. In 2002, the statewide Republican ticket took 63 percent of the vote.

In the Central Texas 17th district, state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth (R) beat former Waco School Board member Dot Snyder (R) 54 percent to 46 percent.

Aided by the Club for Growth, which ran television ads on her behalf in the final two weeks of the race and bundled more than $300,000 to her campaign, Wohlgemuth won the swing area in Brazos County (College Station) 54 percent to 46 percent.

Wohlgemuth also rolled up a strong margin in her base of Johnson County, where she took 68 percent. That win offset Snyder’s 58 percent victory in McClennan County (Waco).

Wohlgemuth’s victory may be a boon for Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards in the general election.

Edwards will now have the strong upper hand in Waco, which represents part of his longtime political base. The other portion of that base — Ft. Hood — was placed in Rep. John Carter’s (R) 31st district.

Edwards quickly signaled the aggressive approach he will take to the race, launching a television ad Wednesday touting his ties to the Texas A&M University.

The victors in the state’s other two Congressional runoffs, in the 15th and 28th, face long odds in the fall.

Former Cuero Mayor Michael Thamm (R) won the right to face Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D) in the 15th district.

Attorney Jim Hopson won the Republican nod in the South Texas 28th, but it remains unclear whom the eventual Democratic nominee will be.

Former Texas Secretary of State Henry Cuellar (D) defeated Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) by just more than 200 votes, but the Congressman is currently pursuing a legal challenge to the results.