A poll released Wednesday predicts that longtime Democratic incumbents may be in trouble for this year's congressional elections--and Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, is one of them.
The Hill, a Washington, D.C. congressional insider newspaper, published survey results showing the longtime congressman has fallen 12 points behind Republican challenger Bill Flores of Bryan, Texas, who has a 52-40 percent advantage. For Edwards, a Democrat representing one of the most conservative districts in the country, this could mean a Republican triumph that's been a long time in the making.
Edwards has held on to his seat in Congress for 20 years, working across party lines and gaining support of conservative organizations such as the National Rifle Association and the Texas Farm Bureau. But conservatives have only grown more frustrated over the years, and anti-incumbent sentiments seem to be at their peak this year as Republicans and Democrats alike voice their dissatisfaction with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Edwards, who has spent much of his campaign distancing himself from Pelosi and even President Obama, has aimed to remind voters of his political reputation for championing veterans' affairs, creating jobs and being a friend to seniors; but Flores has taken every opportunity to draw explicit ties to Edwards and the Obama administration.
Carefully sidestepping these accusations, Edwards has fired back by zeroing in on Flores' Social Security policies, specifically private accounts and the Social Security retirement age. In a district with more than 70,000 citizens age 65 or older, Edwards proudly makes known his relationship with the seniors in District 17.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will launch an ad blitz for Edwards during the final week, while the Republican Party has canceled plans for its own Flores ad blitz.
The survey, conducted by Democratic pollster Penn Schoen Berland, showed that Edwards isn't the only Democrat trailing his Republican opponent by considerable margins. Thirty-one of the 42 districts polled for The Hill put Republicans in the lead for the election, leaving Republicans with plenty of cushion to seize control of the House again.