Guest Blog

As I indicated earlier, the college atop the escarpment along the Bosque River in the heart of Texas added two "whiz kids" to its brain trust recently. One of whom, "Jerry Vorhees," whose field of expertise is International Relations, at my request, offered this insightful analysis of the US dilemma in re the Korean peninsula recently.

The other sensation, "Citlalli," who specializes in public policy, I have successfully prevailed upon to pen this analysis regarding the spirited Texas 17 race. Let's make her feel welcome. Hopefully, we can draw her into our conversation on a regular basis.

Edwards v. Taylor

With the most recent debate in Cleburne indicating that the incumbent Chet Edwards (D) and the challenger Van Taylor (R) are still letting the sparks fly, this race remains very competitive. However, Edwards, the incumbent in a Republican-strong district, has been able to stave off the political jabs and accusations of Taylor by focusing on the local issues such as the $16 million dollars he recently acquired in government contracts for L-3 or his attempts to save the Waco VA.

Further, the challenger has had only moderate success in contesting Chet Edwards on one issue, immigration. And even with that issue, Taylor has been weak. It is very difficult to say that a Democrat is soft on immigration when he votes against his own party in support of building a wall on the border and for an increased federal, state, and local presence on the border.

Which then begs the questions, what are the other issues?

National Security – Chet Edwards voted in favor of the Patriot Act in 2001 and in all the years subsequent to that. He has been a staunch supporter of the military before and after his district lost Ft. Hood and the surrounding area.

Economy- Chet Edwards has voted in favor of the most recent reduction in the estate tax, as well as, repealing the marriage penalty. Endorsements from the US Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Businesses have enabled Mr. Edwards to bolster his economic stance.

Yet, an inconsistent record makes Chet Edwards moderately vulnerable. He voted against certain tax breaks in his earlier career and has been against the Bush administration on reducing the size of government through reductions in Medicaid and school loan availability. These conservative issues are welcome in District 17 and are the area of greatest vulnerability for Mr. Edwards.

Gun Rights – Again, Chet Edwards has had an inconsistent record, voting against a shorter 24 hour waiting period for arms purchases at gun shows. Yet, he received a B rating by the NRA which is no easy task for a Democrat.

Abortion – The second greatest area of opportunity for the Republican Van Taylor. Chet Edwards openly supports a women’s right to choose. Votes against banning partial birth abortion have created some difficulties amongst staunch conservatives, although Chet reported that his vote was based on the non-exemption for the health of the mother. The complexity of his record is obvious when you look at his ratings. He is ranked 82% per Planned Parenthood and 50% per National Right to Life Committee. In no way is he a complete liberal. Ted Stevens has the exact same rating for the National Right to Life.

Other Issues – Chet Edwards voted in favor of a flag burning amendment and an amendment banning gay marriage.

Well, what does all this mean? Does this mean that Chet Edwards is really a Republican in Democrats clothing? Not necessarily, but in a political season such as this where the American public seeks a change, it is good to be a candidate that appears mainstream. Even after Edwards' missteps of being affiliated with an insurance company that misled soldiers into purchasing overpriced life insurance, most of the citizens in the district trust Mr. Edwards.

Recent polls have Edwards up by 15 points, Edwards 47% Taylor 32%. He has received endorsements from the Dallas Morning News, Ft. Worth Star Telegram, and the Waco Tribune Herald. Taylor does not seem to be galvanizing his conservative base that voted 70% for Bush in 2004

My advice to Edwards, if he were to ask my advice, is to keep the strategy up. Keep building the trust and working the instructed delegate roll. He is an exception to most all political science norms.

My advice to Mr. Taylor is to find a new strategist. Maybe it is not his fault. It is difficult to tackle such a widely moving target but Taylor needs another issue besides Immigration. He must find something that will tarnish the polished politician or maybe he should just discuss the issues. Sincerity is always an appealing quality.


Note: Ordinarily, I would file this under "Friends of the Bosque Boys;" however, in this case, I am posting the piece with the "Texas 17" reportage and analysis.