The Magazine

Defrosting Texas

Tom DeLay's redistricting may do in a 13-term Democrat.

Jul 5, 2004, Vol. 9, No. 41 • By BETH HENARY
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So what chance does a Democrat with a long and substantive career have in the 32nd district? Along with two small wealthy cities near Dallas and some middle-class suburbs, the district includes a minority section of Dallas that Frost has long represented. The district is "certainly winnable," Fassler says. "It's a very diverse district that's 50 percent minority." Actually, the total of black, Hispanic, and Asian voters comes to 45 percent. Frost's old, heavily Democratic district was 60 percent minority.

As to the nonminority sections, says Fassler, "There's a lot of voters here who have not been given a [Democratic] alternative in a lot of years." And Frost has been receiving support. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright visited last week for a $175,000 fundraiser, and though Frost does not expect to be as well financed as Sessions, his campaign reports being ahead of the pace needed to reach its goal of $3 million. Local fire and police associations have already tossed their oomph behind Frost.

But neither endorsements nor money make solid Republicans vote Democrat, and Sessions's organization thinks the sheer chemistry of District 32 makes him hard to beat. Most of the high-turnout precincts with large numbers of voters are Republican strongholds, notes Sessions's campaign manager Homan.

Any victory scenario Frost can come up with is "cold-fusion physics," says Homan. "He needs all his 'ifs' to work out. And then he needs us to sit back and do nothing."

Beth Henary is a freelance editor and writer in Austin, Texas.