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Sessions, Frost ready to rumble - the "No. 1" race in the nation (Texas)
The Dallas Morning News ^ | January 18, 2004 | By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News

Posted on 01/18/2004 8:27:45 AM PST by MeekOneGOP

Sessions, Frost ready to rumble

Congressional rivals eager to face off but hold their best punches for later

08:43 PM CST on Saturday, January 17, 2004

By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News

The "No. 1" race in the nation. The "tip of the spear" among big-money contests.

With the Martin Frost vs. Pete Sessions congressional contest all of two days old, political observers – and the candidates themselves – are hyping its significance as if boxing promoter Don King had been advising them.

To be sure, the race between the sitting congressmen will, by all accounts, be expensive and passionately partisan.

During the state's bitter redistricting process, Texas Republicans molded Mr. Frost's Democrat-friendly 24th District into a Republican stronghold designed to squeeze him from office. He's still livid.

Mr. Sessions is painting Mr. Frost as a "hard-core liberal" who can't win in his district. He's not planning on letting a Democratic interloper infiltrate his domain without an all-out counteroffensive.

But don't expect this race to become a January-to-Election Day bloodbath, political consultants say. The campaign will take the form of sustained and growing disharmony between the men, building toward a November crescendo of all-out partisanship.

"The gloves won't come off until the fall," said John Marlow, an Austin-based lobbyist who ran Mr. Sessions' first winning campaign in 1996. "Until about Labor Day, both of these candidates will run against each other from a fund-raising perspective."

Said Mr. Frost: "This is a nine-month marathon, and in it, I don't mind being a little bit of an underdog. There's a lot of time."

And Mr. Sessions: "I'm surprised that Mr. Frost decided to run against me ... but I welcome him, red carpet rolled out. It won't be easy."

Enlisting aid

Both candidates' histories and stature suggest they'll woo plenty of big-name politicos and big-time donors to North Texas this year.

Mr. Frost is the former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which exists primarily to elect Democrats and defeat Republicans, and he counts his congressional tenure as among the longest in the nation among Democrats.

Clout? Plenty.

Mr. Sessions is a Texas Republican running against a man whom national-level Republicans want to see voted out of Congress.

It isn't a stretch to believe a former Republican Texas governor who now lives in the White House might swing through the 32nd District once or twice this year.

"And there's really no love lost there at all between them," Mr. Marlow said of the two candidates. "It's been Martin Frost's job to try to beat Pete Sessions before. And Pete Sessions can rely on the full faith of the Republican National Committee."

When candidates publicly report their finances at the end of January, Mr. Sessions says he will have $750,000 cash on hand. Mr. Frost said he would report $700,000. Both candidates predict the other will raise at least $2.5 million through the election.

For Mr. Frost, his challenge is primarily twofold: raise those millions of dollars while also making inroads into swaths of the district populated with Republicans wary of any Democrat, no matter how moderate or experienced. Such areas include the Park Cities and parts of North Dallas.

An established fund-raiser with a database filled with thousands of supporters, the latter of the two challenges may prove more daunting. In November, Mr. Frost's campaign staff, housed in an office building in Dallas' Oak Cliff section, was already mailing out thousands of personalized letters, piled atop several desks, to past donors.

"He's always had a very good, effective campaign structure," said Dallas Mayor Pro Tem John Loza, a Frost supporter. "And in this district, he'll have a base among voters of color, Jewish voters, younger voters. He's not too far to the left with the rest."

Up until this month, Mr. Frost considered challenging freshman Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Highland Village, or Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis.

But he had little base of support in their districts, which are even more solidly Republican than Mr. Sessions', where four of 10 voting-age residents are black or Hispanic. Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic in Texas, as do Hispanicsalthough to a lesser degree.

"He figures he starts there and then has to go looking for the rest," said political scientist Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University, adding that the challenge for Mr. Frost will be to make inroads in North Dallas, which for years has voted about 70 percent for Republicans.

"The Democrats have been cowed for a decade, but if they had a strong, articulate, well-funded candidate, i.e. Frost, saying, 'Come on, get up on your hind legs and defend yourselves,' that would change."

Mr. Frost will campaign in Democrat-heavy Oak Cliff and the most Republican tract of Highland Park with equal fervor, he said Saturday.

Contrasting records

When it comes to the political makeup of the district, both candidates say the advantage is theirs.

Mr. Sessions panned Mr. Frost as "a hard-core liberal" out of step with most 32nd District voters.

"He'll be selling his can of goods as a liberal," Mr. Sessions said. "I have a large base here, I believe. I'm confident."

Voters in this district "aren't ideologues. They aren't to the extreme right," Mr. Frost said. They care about improving education, bolstering their public transportation network and ensuring the nation's military is strong, he said.

On these key points, Mr. Frost says he trumps Mr. Sessions. ' record.

Nonsense, said Mr. Barton, who said Mr. Frost's decision to run at all is foolhardy.

"Smart politicians reputed to be intelligent – and Mr. Frost is very intelligent – don't usually do stupid things," said Mr. Barton. "There is no reasonable set of circumstances where he beats Pete. It would take an absolutely cataclysmic political upheaval."

What Mr. Sessions possesses that Mr. Frost doesn't is a positive image in the 32nd District, Mr. Barton said. Too many voters in the district won't vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights, and civil unions among for gays and has a more liberal fiscal philosophy than Mr. Sessions, regardless of his stances on education, transportation and the military, Mr. Barton said.

Mr. Sessions says he's dedicated to an agenda that allows citizens to empower themselves through tax cuts, business incentives and conservative economic polities.

Is the past prologue?

Prodded by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, who insisted on targeting Mr. Frost even if that made the remap's legal prospects less certain, the Republican-dominated Legislature put Mr. Frost in difficult straits.

The new version of his 24th District is tailored to state Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, for whom state lawmakers had drawn the 32nd District in 2001. But Mr. Sessions claimed it, trading in the sprawling 5th District he had held for three terms for one that is far smaller, closer to home and Republican.

In the 5th District, Mr. Sessions averaged 54.28 percent of the general election vote during his three successful races between 1996 and 2000.

In 2002, running in the 32nd District, Mr. Sessions clobbered Democratic challenger Pauline K. Dixon, 65 percent to 33 percent. Mr. Frost won his 2002 race by a nearly identical margin, 66 percent to 33 percent.

Staff writer Todd J. Gillman in Washington contributed to this report.


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TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: 2004; electionushouse; martinfrost; petesessions; texas
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To: onyx
Oh, yeah. :O)

21 posted on 01/18/2004 9:47:06 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (Freeper formerly known as MeeknMing)
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To: Torie; ambrose; Pubbie
Session will defeat Frost............
22 posted on 01/18/2004 10:12:58 AM PST by KQQL (^@__*^)
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To: Torie; ambrose; Pubbie
Sessions will defeat Frost............
23 posted on 01/18/2004 10:13:16 AM PST by KQQL (^@__*^)
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To: MeekOneGOP
24 posted on 01/18/2004 10:27:23 AM PST by Dubya (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but by me)
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To: MeekOneGOP
Don't forget :

Randy Neugebauer-R- CD19 Incumbent

Charlie Stenholm-D
25 posted on 01/18/2004 12:16:48 PM PST by KQQL (^@__*^)
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To: All
Martin Frost is flaming liberal (not quite to the Pelosi, Waxman, levels) and I'm glad he's out of Arlington BUT we should be prepared for EVERY black, hispanic, ane Jew in Texas to be campaigning HARD for Frost's survival before it's over.

We're also going to be getting every single, noisy-assed black in the U.S. coming into North Texas on Frost's behalf. He won't be going away easy so, if you really want to help Frost's demise come to Pete Sessions financially, and push the national GOP committee to support Pete Sessions as well.

This is going to be more than just getting rid of Frost, the demonRATs are going to make this a referendum vote against the GOP!

26 posted on 01/18/2004 12:22:05 PM PST by harpu
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Go, GOP !!

Texas Democrats are quickly becoming an endangered species.

The Texas Dodocrat:

Remap could create an endangered species -
Texas' white Democratic Reps struggle for survival

Texas Redistricting starts a National Trend !:

27 posted on 01/18/2004 12:59:30 PM PST by MeekOneGOP (Freeper formerly known as MeeknMing)
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To: MeekOneGOP
Time to de-Frost Texas! :)
28 posted on 01/18/2004 8:53:07 PM PST by anymouse
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To: harpu
I don't think you meant to sound like a sorry assed bigot. However, you sure do. This Jew has fought for the removal of Martin Frost for years.
29 posted on 01/18/2004 8:54:02 PM PST by davidtalker
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Max Sandlin (D) ---> Will run in the CD1

Nick Lampson (D) ---> will run in CD 2

Chet Edwards (D)---> will run in CD 17

Charlie Stenholm(D) -> CD 19 Vs Randy Neugebauer -Incumbent (R)

Martin Frost (D) -CD 32 Vs Session Incumbent (R)

If GOP wins all the above 5 races, then there will be 22 REPUBLICANS Reps from TX in 05.
30 posted on 01/18/2004 11:33:02 PM PST by KQQL (^@__*^)
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To: harpu; davidtalker
...EVERY black, hispanic, and Jew....

Did you mean EVERY left wing, every liberal, every Democrat every fraud loving union member in the country? There are MANY, Hispanics, Blacks and Jews that will be voting for Sessions. He is a super decent human being.

31 posted on 01/19/2004 12:23:22 AM PST by Gracey (Clark/Clinton 2004... Could it happen??? YES. Be vigilant)
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To: Gracey
Don't you just love it...Sessions will bring in W form a campaign swing..Frost will bring in Gore, Daschle, Clinton, and Dean...
32 posted on 01/21/2004 8:08:03 AM PST by ken5050
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