Gay Democrats predict advances for their party while Log Cabin says Republicans will stay on top
Turnout at the polls for early voting shows the electorate appears to be more engaged for a midterm election than it has been in a long time, according to local political observers.
Shannon Bailey, president of Texas Stonewall Democrats, said the turnout at the polls gives him confidence that Democrats have a real chance of taking several offices in Dallas County and of even winning the governor’s seat in that four-way race. The other statewide races seem sure to go Republican, he said.
“It doesn’t quite match a presidential year, but it is certainly well ahead of our last three gubernatorial cycles,” Bailey said. “It’s a plus for us. The more people that vote, the better our chances.”
Bailey said the dynamics of the election are different than ever before. People are anxious about the Iraq war, concerned about the economy and fed up with politicians who try to shift the subject to cultural issues rather than addressing the voters’ concerns.
“This is the first time that I can think of in many years probably since the Vietnam War that national issues are taking such a role in local and state elections,” Bailey said.
Bailey said he is “cautiously optimistic” that Democrats are going to take over the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, based on the polls he has seen.
“I’m cautious about that because we’ve been bit before, especially in the national elections in 2000 and 2004,” Bailey said.
But Republi-cans seem to be just as sure that they are going to hang on to their advantage.
Carla Halbrook, a national board member of Log Cabin Republicans who lives in Dallas, said she believes that Democrats are overly optimistic about their chances, particularly in Texas.
“From what I’ve been seeing, local polls show that races are a lot tighter than they seem,” Halbrook said. “I have high hopes.”
Bailey said President Bush’s recent rebuke about “activist judges” in connection with the New Jersey Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same-sex marriage seems like a last ditch effort to rally the conservative base to the polls.
The president is making scapegoats of gay and lesbian citizens to advance his agenda, he said.
“I really view it from my experience as an act of desperation to pull their base out,” Bailey said. “I just don’t think the conservative Christian base is as excited about voting this time as they have been in past election cycles.”
Bailey said he believes Republicans are weary of scandals, such as the ones that involved Republican congressmen Tom DeLay and Mark Foley.
“I think that has turned a lot of their hard Christian voters off,” Bailey said.
Halbrook said she remains confident, especially about Dallas and all other Texas races: “This is a red state; I think voters are going to turn out.”
But Bailey said many of Dallas gay and lesbian residents vote Republican, but he hopes they will be moved to switch parties this year.
“Certainly in the governor’s race because Perry has been so bad they are not going to vote for Perry,” Bailey said. “My hope is they vote for Chris Bell.”
But Halbrook said she expects Perry to remain in the governor’s mansion.
“I don’t think Bell is even in the running to be honest,” Halbrook said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, November 3, 2006.