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Surprise in a House Race Could Frost TX Republicans {Frost v. Sessions}
Houston Chronicle ^ | 09-19-04 | Hines, Cragg

Posted on 09/19/2004 8:40:14 PM PDT by Theodore R.

Surprise in a House race would frost Republicans

Cragg Hines returns to old stomping grounds in North Dallas to check on why some local GOP types are fretting about a supposedly safe district

By CRAGG HINES Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

ADDISON -- In the newly gerrymandered U.S. House seat centered on securely upmarket North Dallas, the biggest concern of the Republican candidate might normally be what kind of canapés to serve following the swearing-in next January.

George W. Bush, a former district resident, easily carried the area in the 2000 presidential election, with almost 65 percent of the vote.

It's hard to find a local Democratic officeholder except in the squiggly tail of the district south of the Trinity River.

So why do so many Republicans in the 32nd District seem a little nervous? They believe (as do I, grudgingly) that it would be almost a miracle for a Democrat to carry a district drawn precisely to include some of the most reliably Republican enclaves in the nation, encompassing Highland Park, Preston Hollow and Richardson. But they are unmistakably anxious.

The reason is that the Democratic nominee is Rep. Martin Frost, who has been in the U.S. House representing parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for 25 years. Frost, 62, is the senior Democrat on the Rules Committee (and in line to be chairman if his party regained a House majority). He is an assiduous fund-raiser and campaigner. He has done many favors for the generally Republican Dallas business establishment.

An equally nagging worry for the GOP is that their candidate is Rep. Pete Sessions, whom some North Dallas Republicans find it easy to dislike. Sessions, 49, began his House career in a district that stretched from East Dallas 200 miles into the hinterlands. Tired of the rural schlepping, Sessions, after the initial redistricting that followed the 2000 census, hopped across town (against the wishes of some North Dallas Republicans) to claim what looked like a more securely Republican (and certainly more compact) district.

When Boss Tom DeLay ordered up a new map from his girlie men in the Legislature, a top priority (other than just gaining Republican seats) was to nail Frost to the mast. The obedient Republicans in Austin tried (and eventually the plan may have its desired effect). But Frost, not taking the hint, launched a savage onslaught against Sessions, not a very nimble campaigner.

Frost, no fool, plays down his Democratic ties and pictures himself as a more ardent supporter than Sessions of President Bush's war on terrorism. Frost emphasizes a Sessions post 9/11 vote against increased air security.

In what was, at best, insensitive phrasing, in a debate last week Sessions said Sept. 11, 2001, was "a home game" and the attack Iraq a preferable "away game." Rushing into the opening, Frost turned on his opponent: "Pete, this is not a game."

In speaking of the war on terrorism, Frost points out that his wife, an Army major general, is on assignment in Iraq and that he, unlike Sessions, served in the military.

"He has made himself into a conservative," a long-time Dallas Republican activist said of Frost. Which is a neat trick, especially for a former member of the House Democratic leadership.

In the debate, when Sessions criticized Frost for voting for tax increases, Frost recalled the again-burgeoning federal deficit and his support for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. "I believe in fiscal sanity," Frost said.

Frost also believes in exposing Sessions' hard-right record, seeing it as more suited to his opponent's former constituents in rural counties than to city dwellers in some of Dallas most sophisticated, if conservative, neighborhoods.

"I want people to know he's pretty far out on the fringe and not just your run-of-the-mill Republican," Frost said after the debate.

In their televised confrontation, Frost pointed out that Sessions was one of the handful of House Republicans to perpetually sponsor a bill to withdraw the United States from the United Nations.

Frost's campaign, given such daunting odds, is noted by some staunch area Republicans.

"I think Martin Frost has done a really good job of doing a complete campaign -- yard signs, public appearances, communications," said conservative political consultant Pat Cotton. "He's done it very cleverly."

As a successful Democratic officeholder in an increasingly Republican area, Frost has become a favorite GOP target.

But Frost also is known for working with interests across the region, regardless of party, to move their projects in Washington, including mass transit.

"I have a reputation for getting thing done," Frost said during the debate.

None, however, was as tough a project as this re-election campaign.

Hines is a Houston Chronicle columnist based in Washington, D.C.

TOPICS: Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: dallas; democrat; electionushouse; gerrymandering; house; martinfrost; petesessions; republican; tomdelay; tx
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To: davidtalker

Did you know that Sessions' father was the head of the FBI during the first Bush administration?

21 posted on 09/20/2004 6:28:10 AM PDT by Theodore R.
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To: normy

Be glad to see Chet Edwards and Martin Frost have a crying/pity party come Nov. 2!

22 posted on 09/20/2004 6:38:13 AM PDT by Bassfire (aim low boys their riding Shetlands!)
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To: Bassfire

Yeah, I think this article is just wishful thinking!

23 posted on 09/20/2004 6:41:11 AM PDT by normy (Kerry doesn't want us to trust him to do the right thing, he wants us to trust France to.)
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To: normy
Of course it is. Republicans pull the "Republican" lever at the top of the ballot.

Frost is toast, and the corpulent Hines knows it. He's trying to pump some air into a deflating balloon.

24 posted on 09/20/2004 6:47:26 AM PDT by sinkspur ("John Kerry's gonna win on his juices. "--Cardinal Fanfani)
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To: sinkspur

Of course it is. Republicans pull the "Republican" lever at the top of the ballot.

Yep..... If a large number of this district's voters go into the booth and take about 30 seconds to vote you can believe that Frost is history......

25 posted on 09/20/2004 6:58:38 AM PDT by deport (Democrats play hardball at the peewee-league level and then lose)
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To: Theodore R.

Yep. Interviewed both of them.

26 posted on 09/20/2004 10:07:15 AM PDT by davidtalker
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To: Theodore R.

Martin Frost IS the master of the absentee ballot - there was a story (here) 2 years ago of his people making the rounds of the nursing homes handing out absentee ballot applications, and then coming back around to fill them out!

27 posted on 09/21/2004 11:15:02 AM PDT by Redbob
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To: davidtalker

Thanks, David. I value your opinion, and will worry less about the race now. Also, it's my understanding that the campaign has been pretty happy with internal polling.

28 posted on 09/30/2004 1:11:54 PM PDT by Rastus (Forget it, Moby! I'm voting for Bush!)
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To: LibertyThug

In their televised confrontation, Frost pointed out that Sessions was one of the handful of House Republicans to perpetually sponsor a bill to withdraw the United States from the United Nations.
29 posted on 10/02/2004 4:47:57 PM PDT by Akira (Experience is a hard teacher, but fools will have no other.)
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