Give Now

2012 Archives

In Democratic Primary, Taking On a Dallas Institution


The following ran in the April 26, 2012, edition of the New York Times. Political Scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

May 9, 2012

By Emily Ramshaw, Texas Tribune

It takes a lot of nerve to run in a Democratic primary against a 20-year incumbent, especially a Dallas institution like Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson.

But Taj Clayton, a DeSoto lawyer, and State Representative Barbara Mallory Caraway of Dallas are giving it a try, arguing that it is time for Ms. Johnson to pass the baton in southern Dallas County’s District 30.

The challengers have gotten help. The Campaign for Primary Accountability, a bipartisan “super PAC,” is targeting longtime incumbents — including Ms. Johnson — in Congressional races across the nation.

Still, Ms. Johnson has her own big-time booster: President Obama, who generally stays out of such battles, has endorsed her. While she acknowledged that she has not had much primary opposition in her Congressional career, she said she has had general election opponents and does not feel threatened....

Calvin C. Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, predicts that Ms. Johnson will win north of 70 percent of the primary vote, but he added that Mr. Clayton — who “has raised a surprising amount of money” — and Ms. Caraway probably expect that and are priming themselves for future campaigns.

“Eddie Bernice Johnson is what, 76 at this point?” Dr. Jillson said. “So people are thinking ahead rather than thinking they can beat her directly.”