October 15, 2008
By GARY SCHARRER
The Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
AUSTIN — Texas Democrats contend the political climate is right for a stunning comeback from 2002 when they lost control of the House for the first time since Reconstruction.
Republicans, who captured a huge 88-62 advantage after that historic election, however, are refusing to concede any House contest — and even harbor hopes of padding their 78-71 advantage.
One Republican-leaning seat is open; Democrats need to gain five House seats to nudge Speaker Tom Craddick and his GOP allies out of power.
It seemed like a stretch just a few weeks ago to reach the magic number 76, a majority in the 150-member House, but the Texas GOP may not escape the souring national political mood.
And though Texas Republicans dispute any notion of losing their leverage, political experts agree the Republican brand name is in trouble.
"With all that happening, it's pretty inconceivable that Texas isn't going to participate at some level in a movement toward the Democratic Party," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, who expects Texas Republicans to lose their House majority.
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