Monday, December 04, 2006

E-N’s lame runoff endorsement

I thought the Express-News’ editorial endorsement of Henry Bonilla for the general election was pretty bad, but this re-endorsement for the run-off election is even worse.

Here it is in all of its truly pathetic awfulness:

A congressional showdown is under way, pitting Republican incumbent Rep. Henry Bonilla against a former colleague, Democrat Ciro Rodriguez.
The two once served together in Congress. Now they are fighting for the same seat — Congressional District 23.
The highly diverse district runs from western Bexar County all the way to El Paso County and is the largest congressional district in the country.
Bonilla, a seven-term congressman, is rightly criticized for putting the interests of his party over the needs of his constituents. That was well-evidenced when he sought to allow GOP House members, such as former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, to maintain their leadership posts even if indicted on felony charges.
But Bonilla sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which is important for Texas and Bexar County.
Seniority is no small matter in Congress. Rodriguez had the potential to build on his seven years in office, but he lost his re-election bid two years ago — exceedingly rare for an incumbent.
The runoff election comes at an inopportune time — at the peak of the holiday season.
But that shouldn't stop voters from getting involved in this important race.
If you're a District 23 resident, be sure to cast a ballot, whomever you vote for.

If I were a Republican, I’d be ticked because that is about the lamest, weakest endorsement I think I have ever read. They start off by criticizing Bonilla over the Tom DeLay debacle and charge him with putting the interests of his party over those of his constituents. But then they demur and go ahead and endorse him based soley on his seniority (seven terms compared to four for Ciro Rodriguez) and his position on the House Appropriations committee.
But they fail to note that what little advantage Bonilla has in seniority is practically nullified by the change in House leadership. It will do Bonilla little good to have a few more years under his belt when he is stuck in the minority party for the next dozen years or so. But Rodriguez, however, could “build on his seven years in office” and wind up with a key committee or subcommittee chairmanship. Plus, we don’t yet know what committee assignments Rodriguez might score, but he could easily end up with a seat on the Appropriations committee too, possibly filling the seat that would be vacated by Bonilla.

So my question is are the editorial writers at the Express too dense to understand this? Or are they under some pressure to endorse Bonilla when they really don’t want to. My guess is the latter. I think the big bosses at the E-N expect that Bonilla, with his huge monetary advantage, will win the runoff and they don’t want to burn any bridges for themselves by endorsing his runoff opponent. And the editorial writers are either required to follow their bosses’ lead or they do not have the courage of their convictions. Whichever, it is a sad spectacle.

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