The Texas Observer names the dozen races that will determine who controls the Texas House next session. Two are in Dallas: District 102 between incumbent Tony Goolsby (R) and Carol Kent (D), and District 107 between incumbent Allen Vaught (D) and Bill Keffer (R). If you’re into analysis, it’s after the jump:
Tony Goolsby (R) vs. Carol Kent (D)
Democrats in Dallas have long wanted to defeat Republican Tony Goolsby. He’s been involved in a series of controversies and scandals, including accusations by Democrats that he worked to suppress minority voting in 2006. Goolsby has denied wrongdoing. He’s managed to earn reelection, though two years ago he sneaked through with just 52 percent.
District 102 is another conservative suburban area that’s slipping away from Republicans. Goolsby has employed a John McCain campaign strategy, pitching himself as the maverick voice of experience with a bipartisan record (his mailers boast of his “history of service, legacy of results”).
Democrat Carol Kent’s campaign slogan is “It’s time for a change in Austin.” With such a disgruntled electorate, you would think the “change” candidate would win out over “experience.”
But Goolsby has several key advantages. First, he has a ton of money. He began the campaign cycle with $400,000 and has continued his brisk fundraising.
For a challenger, Kent has collected a respectable amount of money. She’s raised more than $341,000 in 2008, but Goolsby still has a $100,000 edge in cash on hand. Moreover, Goolsby will benefit from the absence of a Libertarian candidate in the race. Two years ago, a Libertarian drew 2.2 percent of the vote. Those extra percentage points may help Goolsby hang on.
Allen Vaught (D) vs. Bill Keffer (R)
Everyone loves a rematch.Two years ago, Democrat Allen Vaught, a lawyer and Iraq war veteran, scored a huge upset over Republican Bill Keffer. This year, Keffer is trying to reclaim his old seat.
Keffer is a stalwart conservative and was once viewed as a rising Republican star. In his campaign, he’s advocating cuts in state spending. He wants to ditch the business tax lawmakers passed two years ago to help public schools. He also wants reductions in the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Keffer will have a tough time regaining his old seat. The suburban district in Dallas County is increasingly Democratic. The district is 54 percent Republican, according to TexasCandidates.com, down from 57 percent when Vaught won two years ago.
Both candidates have raised healthy sums for the race this year, more than $248,000 for Vaught and $232,000 for Keffer. Vaught, however, has slightly more money left in the bank for the final 30 days. Keffer is certainly well known in the district. But his notoriety may not be the advantage it once was. With the area tilting Democratic, a hard-liner like Keffer may be too conservative for what is now a swing district. In this rematch, Keffer is the underdog.