The mid-term election is not over for us. Thanks to a Voting Rights Act-related Supreme Court decision this past summer -- a decision that re-drew the lines of a handful of congressional districts in south Texas -- and thanks to the fact that no single candidate received over 50% of the vote in the resulting November special election, we in Texas congressional district 23 have the opportunity to vote for Congress once again this year.
The incumbent is Republican Henry Bonilla, a cog in the corrupt DeLay machine that ran the GOP-led congress into the ground over the last few years. The surviving challenger is Democratic former congressman Ciro Rodriguez. Due to the court-led addition of heavily-Democratic south Bexar County (Rodriguez's home base) and subtraction of heavily-Republican areas around Kerrville, this district is now very competitive between the two parties, so, if we can get the vote out, Rodriguez has a real chance to send Bonilla on a long vacation.
To find out how we could help make this happen, we attended a brief after-work rally at Rodriguez's new campaign headquarters in northwest San Antonio last night. We had heard about this just the day before via a phone call from the campaign. After the rally, we walked a block to hear Rodriguez speak at a candidate forum at the clubhouse for the Woods of Shavano neighborhood. Bonilla had also been invited to this forum, but was a no-show, so Rodriguez had the floor to himself for the hour.
He spoke at length about his past legislative achievements and his commitment to improving education and health care in this country. During a question-and-answer session, he also expressed the need to make student loans more affordable, to put money into research on alternative fuels, and his opposition to the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. He also claimed credit for helping to mollify labor's concerns in making a deal to develop Brooks City-Base when Brooks Air Force Base was slated to be closed. And in a unique twist that brightened this astronomers' heart, he mentioned his past support for reducing light pollution in Texas.
Since there has been some controversy, and talk of lawsuits, about the early date that our Republican governor set for the runoff, Rodriguez was asked when the election would actually be. He was firm that it should be the official date of December 12, as changing it at this late stage would likely only confuse people further and make getting out the vote that much harder.
I did not vote for Ciro Rodriguez in the special election earlier this month, but I will enthusiastically vote for him in the upcoming runoff. Obviously, I encourage everyone else in this district, which wraps around San Antonio from the northwest to the west to the south and extends westwards hundreds of miles, through the Big Bend region and the Davis Mountains of west Texas, virtually all the way to El Paso, to do the same.
Early voting starts next Monday, December 4 and proceeds through Friday, December 8. (Yes, our GOP overlords in Texas will not allow early voting over a weekend for this election.) Election day itself, again, is December 12.
For more information on Rodriguez's campaign, see his website cirodrodriguez.com. You can also watch the television ad that the Democratic National Campaign Committee has put together at one of several Texas political blogs, such as Burnt Orange Report or Capitol Annex.
Soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is helping out. So, even, is Rodriguez's two-time primary opponent, Rep. Henry Cuellar. We are up against an entrenched incumbent, but we have a real shot to win this.