Run-off Roundup

Congressional District 10: Ankrum Wallops Foreman

In round one of the Democratic primary, the race to choose a likely sacrificial lamb to Republican incumbent Michael McCaul was a rural vs. urban battle – former NASA bureaucrat Ted Ankrum of Cypress took Travis and Harris Counties, and Austin poet and publisher Paul Foreman dominated five of the district's six rural counties. In Tuesday's run-off, Democrats – the handful that bothered to vote, anyway – spoke with a more unified voice and overwhelmingly put Ankrum solidly on top with 71% of the vote. He took every county this time, doing no worse than the 61% he earned in Bastrop Co.

Tuesday turnout was pathetic across the state, and District 10 was no exception – only 3,682 Democrats between Lake Austin and the suburbs of Houston bothered to go to the polls, in a district that turned out 231,643 voters in the 2004 general election.

"Communication," Ankrum credited for his dramatic turnaround. "I'm new at this, everybody working for me is new at this. We learned the hard way in the primaries. This time we did a better job of getting the word out. The first time around we lost the sign war. I had no idea the signs were so important. We didn't put up more this time because of the lead time to get them printed, but we [mailed] a postcard, and we told people about what the newspapers had said about me [Ankrum's endorsements included the Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, and The Austin Chronicle], about the clubs and individuals that endorsed me. It was a combination of getting out to tell people who I was, and a lot of people in those counties called their friends and asked them to vote for me. It worked well – look at Washington County. I've been there six times since the primary." Ankrum lost Washington in March, 33% to Foreman's 39%; this time he got 140 votes against Foreman's 19.

The conventional wisdom is that no Democrat has a chance to win this conservative district in the fall, but don't tell Ankrum that. "I'm real pleased to be going up against Michael McCaul," he said. "I'm real pleased that McCaul was just named assistant majority whip. It's evidence that he is voting the way of the party, and not the way of his constituents. His record doesn't jibe with the district. He should have established himself in the district before seeking leadership positions." Ankrum has previously criticized McCaul as being relatively unknown to his constituents.

As for Foreman, he was unaware of the results until the Chronicle called him after 9pm on election night, and wasn't eager to bow out gracefully.

"He's Republican-Lite," Foreman said of Ankrum (a candidate who wants to end the Iraq war and repeal No Child Left Behind, advocates universal health care and a living wage, and actively sought the endorsement of gay rights groups). Foreman launched into a rather contradictory attack: "He seemed to have [former state Rep.] Glen Maxey working for him; maybe he's part of Maxey's effort to win the Democratic Party state chair. Our larger problem is to win elections in this state, not just to push Glen Maxey's narrow agenda. … Gays and lesbians are a persecuted people … but we have to appeal to conservatives." (Maxey was Texas' first openly gay state rep and recently led the fight against the state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.)

Foreman said he was still undecided on whether he would endorse Ankrum. "It's too early to say. I'm still interested in beating Bush. He'll have to come to me and ask."

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