Republican strategists are privately bragging that when the votes are counted in November, the GOP will have swiped two more state senatorial seats from the long-dominant Democrats, giving them control of the delegation for the first time in county history. Republicans feel both the 16th and the 9th districts are easy pickings this fall – particularly considering the expected heavy conservative Democratic crossover.
In the 16th, a district that has threatened to turn Republican during the past two elections, retiring City Councilman John Leedom – if he finally decides to file – is considered an odds-on favorite to whip both Democrat-turned-Republican incumbent Bill Braecklein in the GOP primary and frontrunning Democratic hopeful Ron Kessler in the fall. Leedom has an image as something of a right-wing flake, but his clout in the party is palpable: As a former Jim Collins operative, he can summon a large and disciplined precinct organization at will. In the 9th, another former Collins aide, Dee Travis, is being touted to upset incumbent Democrat Ron Clower. Travis can also call on the Collins organization, and can get a lot of mileage out of Clower’s closet-liberal voting record in the State Senate.