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We Have A Candidate: Mikal Watts

Josh Berthume's picture

The news broke a few days ago that Congressman Nick Lampson would not be running for Senate, and would instead run for re-election in Texas' 22nd Congressional District. On the heels of that came confirmation of what has been widely speculated for the last several weeks: Mikal Watts is forming an exploratory committee and will run for US Senate.

We have written at length about a possible Watts candidacy. Our main conclusions were that A) it would be exciting to watch, and B) there would never be a morning where we open the paper, read some poll results, and lament the financial deficiency of a Watts campaign in the general election.

The word from various sources about the Watts campaign is that it looks like it is already in high gear. My estimation of an operation which has already raised $1.1 million for the DSCC is that forming an exploratory committee at this point is the equivalent of an official announcement of his candidacy. While not the first declared candidate for the Democratic nomination — that was Emil Reichstadt, who announced in April and has since largely disappeared from view — Watts will nevertheless be a serious contender, and the announcement that he will file the exploratory committee paperwork on Friday is a signal that the campaign is underway in earnest.

In the Statesman article linked above, they report that Cornyn is sitting on a $3 million war chest. Since I'm in the business of posing questions like this, I ask: what kind of money would Watts need to raise to put some fear into the Cornyn camp? I think that this far out, you have to make an authoritative finance statement right away: $1 million by the end of their first reporting period would do it, but that would mean they'd have the Herculean task of making it happen by the end of June.

There isn't a ton of news about this at the moment. The Hill has an article which piggybacks Statesman on some of its info. The DSCC won't throw in behind any particular candidate before the primary is over, as is proper. Even a casual observer, though, must see that the DSCC is taking far more interest in the Cornyn seat than they normally would in a Texas race. The main question for anyone interested in how the race will turn out is whether the DSCC will target Texas, and the general feeling following the Watts fundraiser seems to be that they are very interested in this race. Knowing what the DSCC is and how it works, I would guess that the DSCC would be more interested in Mikal Watts than in most if not all of the other people I've heard discussed as possible candidates.

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