Naked City

How Sadun Was Doomed

So what kind of chance does a write-in candidate have in a congressional election? If Lorenzo Sadun's run for CD 10 is typical, about the same as a snowball in Texas.

Granted, he certainly would have lost anyway – two other Austin-area Democrats who were on the ballot, Jon Porter and Rhett Smith, got creamed in their similarly Tom DeLay-gerrymandered districts. But Sadun was still disappointed that, after campaigning his butt off for six months, his 6% fell even behind Libertarian Robert Fritsche's 15%. Sadun jumped into the District 10 race after no Democrat filed in the primaries.

We don't have the degree that UT math professor Sadun does, but we thought we'd perform some calculations to figure out just how much not having his name on the ballot (and therefore, not getting included in any straight-ticket voting) hurt the Democrat. In the rural counties that fall entirely within CD10 – Lee, Waller, Washington, and Austin – we figure any small-town and country folk who would actually choose a Yankee over a drawling Texan in the presidential race are true Yellow Dogs and would also desperately want a Democrat congressman. Yet, those counties produced 14,010 votes for Kerry but only 823 for Sadun. By comparison, Republican Michael McCaul got 29,342, compared to 29,491 for Bush.

In counties partially within CD 10, on-ballot Dems in other districts did worlds better than Sadun. Bastrop Co. is split between CD 10 and CD 15, and the latter's incumbent Rubén Hinojosa got 48% of the vote to Sadun's 3%. Same story in Burleson Co., where CD 17 victor Chet Edwards took 53%, compared to Sadun's 2%.

Of course, Travis Co. is where Sadun got his strongest support, but even here he took a hit. The CD 10 section of Travis matches up fairly well with the boundaries of Texas House District 50, but Mark Strama got 31,351 votes to Sadun's 11,685. (There's no good comparison for the other end of CD 10, in northwest Harris Co., because the two House races there each featured no Democrat, which carries a message of its own.)

Tom DeLay designed these districts to ensure no Democrat could win. But as Sadun's candidacy makes clear, failure to file a candidate in the primary reduces the Dems' chances of pulling an upset from slim to none.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Election 2004, Lorenzo Sadun, CD 10, Michael McCaul, write-in

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