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Run silent, run deep: The Hank Cuellar story

By Owen Paine on Friday March 10, 2006 12:22 PM

My guess is, this Hank the Crank  Cuellar guy is a deep plant job, set to emerge at a key moment as turncoat of the decade -- the Chicano Strom Thurmond.

He's whipped the more "mainstream" Democrat Ciro Rodriguez twice now in close calls, which only shows that our screw-the-primaries strategy probably works better.

Though the Cuellar story has some interesting wrinkles. Rodriguez used to be the rep in the 28th CD, but Tom  Delay actually worked with this Bush-lovin' Hank in the '04 primary, which Cuellar won by 58 votes -- no, that is not a typo, 58.

In this year's rematch, at nearly the last minute, MoveOn.org finally moved -- they came crashing  after Hank, a gesture that was either too belated or downright fatal.

Bright light : the district gave almost 40% in the general last time to Hank's  Republican opponent, but strangely, this year there seems to be no Republican running.

CQ Politics analyzes Cuellar's victory this way:

Cuellar comes from Laredo in Webb County at the southern end of the elongated Hispanic-majority district, while Rodriguez comes from San Antonio in Bexar County near the northern end, and both ran up huge percentage-point victories on their home turf. But turnout was much higher in Cuellar's home base, giving him the raw vote numbers he needed to clinch victory.
Sounds like Rodriguez couldn't get anybody very... enthusiastic.

Except the Kosniks, of course, who were all atwitter over this one -- you'da thought they were Leonidas and the Spartans at Thermopylae. Now that the Persians have gotten round them and burned Athens -- or at least San Antonio -- the former Spartans are busy constructing self-consolations -- walls against reality rather than against the enemy. Here's the Uber-Kos himself:

The bottom line: we helped a campaign that was the walking dead and gave it new life, pumped in resources, and made it competitive. We did much to even the playing field even if ultimately we came up tantalizingly short.

And yeah, I know "tantalizingly short", alongside "moral victories", is about as desirable as the Bubonic Plague. We want more. But this is a long-term movement, building from nothing. And we are sending notice to Democrats that they can't be Bush's bitch and expect a pass.

So we didn't kill off Cuellar, but we gave him an ass whooping where none was expected and made him sweat. That's the reason why Lieberman is sweating in Connecticut and lining up his dog and pony endorsement shows to flex his muscle. He can't take for granted that a no-name businessman with no political experience and zero connections in his state's political establishment will be a non-factor, not with what we've done for people like Dean and now Ciro.

"What we've done for Dean and Ciro?" With friends like these....

Kos concludes his ruminations with this observation:

...If Cuellar had a Republican opponent in November, I would support Cuellar for the general. The time to fight for the soul of the party is in the primaries. Once the primaries are over, I'm happy to get behind whoever wins.
Which just about says it all.

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