Peggy Fikac, on Democrats in the San Antonio Express News:
Underfunded, so it seems.
Relatively unknown, so far.
But they say they are not to be underestimated.
They are Democrats vying to do what no one of their political persuasion has done since 1994: carry their party's banner into victory in a statewide race.
Never mind that political experts give them — at best — little chance of winning next November in the Republican-red state. They believe in themselves, their message and the chance that lightning will strike.
"Some of the professional cynics who operate in the embedded corporate media need to open their eyes and understand that ordinary people everywhere are fed up with power-grabbing 'Bushite' government in both the United States and in Texas," said San Antonio lawyer David Van Os.
Undaunted by two unsuccessful tries for a Texas Supreme Court seat, Van Os filed for the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Abbott's campaign director, Daniel Hodge, declined to comment on Van Os' criticism and said Abbott will run on a record of "arresting child sex predators, protecting consumers, preserving taxpayer dollars and defending Texas values."
State Democratic Chairman Charles Soechting estimated Van Os will be outspent by "millions to one" but dismissed the importance of the TV ads millions can buy. "People are sick of it," Soechting said of such advertising.
Former Houston congressman Chris Bell, a Democratic hopeful for governor, said he would "match up extraordinarily well with (Republican Gov.) Rick Perry" assuming each is anointed.
Democrats such as consultant Kelly Fero aren't concentrating on statewide races this time but on legislative races as part of a plan for resurgence. But Fero emphasized he's not in the business of counting out hopefuls.
"It is obviously a very tough thing to do to run statewide when you are outspent so heavily," Fero said. But he sees a "sky-high frustration among voters" that could make a difference in this election.
Even with the odds against them, experts don't discount the value of Democratic efforts. Choices make a democracy, help a party build for the future and allow it to capitalize on any incumbent missteps, said Andy Hernandez, a political scientist at St. Mary's University.
Former Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, who lost the governor's race to a vastly better funded Bush in 1998, points to the need for confidence in one's self and one's cause in taking on such an endeavor.
He still says he should have won his race, which was viewed as an uphill climb to start with and which, he said, suffered as impeachment proceedings were pending against then-President Clinton.
Mauro said he started with "two basic beliefs" — that Bush was a "terrible governor" and that people disagreed with most of Bush's positions once they knew them.
"I believed if I could highlight his positions, I could beat him," Mauro said. "I really thought I should have won the race. ... That's the kind of confidence you have to have."
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