in Houston, Texas
Houston super PAC aims to defeat Texas congressmen
Monday, Apr 09, 2012, 10:27AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Campaign for Primary Accountability, a Houston political action committee spending big money to defeat incumbent congressmen from both parties, has fixed on four of the most entrenched from Texas, two Republicans and two Democrats.

They are Republican Reps. Ralph Hall of Rockwall and Joe Barton of Ennis and Democrats Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Silvestré Reyes of El Paso, according to a San Antonio Express News story.

The four have a combined 89 years of service in Congress. Hall, 88, is the longest serving congressman in the Texas delegation, elected in 1980; Barton, 62, elected in 1984; Johnson, 76, in 1992; and Reyes, 67, in 1996.

Conservative entrepreneur Leo Linbeck III founded the so-called super PAC to pump money into the campaigns of challengers from the same parties to make primary elections more competitive.

Late last year he co-founded Alliance for Self Governance to warn the public that feeble voter participation in primaries helps create a culture of entitled incumbency in Washington, D.C.

The primary elections in Texas are May 29. Each of the four Texas incumbents targeted by the Campaign has at least one opponent from the same party.

Campaign for Primary Accountability had at the end of January collected nearly $1.9 million, Federal Election Commission reports say. Four donors, including Linbeck, who has contributed at least $775,000, provided $1.6 million of the total.

The spending paid immediate dividends in early March in Ohio. Brad Wenstrup, a political newcomer and Iraq War veteran, upset incumbent Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt in that state’s primary.

The Campaign’s money did not help Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who was walloped that night in Ohio by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who has served for 30 years and whose district had been redrawn.

The group is currently spending money in two Pennsylvania congressional races, one Republican and one Democrat.

Campaign is currently studying the possibility of going after several other longtime incumbent congressmen in Texas, spokesman Curtis Ellis told the Express News.

They include: Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin; Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands; Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Midland; John Culberson, R-Houston; Sam Johnson, R-Plano; and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Graphic by flickr user League of Women Voters of California, used via a Creative Commons license.

Monday, 04/09/2012 - 11:02AM

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