Rep. Michael McCaul (R)
Texas 10th District
Two of Texas’ major cities are named for leaders of the old Texas Republic, Sam Houston and Stephen Austin. They were not entirely attractive characters: Houston had episodes of alcoholic depression and Austin was a slaveholder who argued that Mexico infringed on Texas’ liberty when it freed its slaves. But they were also men of courage and determination who built a distinctively American culture in what was then the northeast of Mexico. Today, the two metropolises named for them are quite different in character. Houston is about commerce, the world capital of the oil business, an entrepreneurial hub spread out over the swampy, humid plains north of the Gulf of Mexico. Austin is the creature of the state government headquartered in the grand Capitol building and of the University of Texas with a huge endowment of land in West Texas that turned out to be full of oil.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The historic Austin is a liberal enclave in the heart of a conservative state. But the area around north Austin and its suburbs has taken on some of Houston’s character in recent years despite the continuing popularity of “Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers. North of the Capitol and the university, on land that was vacant when Lyndon Johnson celebrated his 87-vote victory in the 1948 Senate primary in the Driskill Hotel, an entrepreneurial Austin has taken shape. It embraces technology and the free market and spreads out over the hills into adjacent Williamson County. Curiously, there is no superhighway between Austin and Houston. To get from one to the other, one drives through rural counties with monuments and plaques recalling the days of the Texas Republic.
The 10th Congressional District of Texas connects the western edge of Houston with the northern precincts of Austin through a corridor of still mostly rural counties. It is split into three parts. Approximately 40% live in Austin and Travis County, where the district includes the northern third of Austin, with one tentacle reaching southwest beyond the city limits and another dropping south to Austin State Hospital. Another 40% are in the western edge of Houston’s Harris County, a fast-growing area, with lots of young families, new subdivisions and sparkling megachurches. In between, are the six lightly populated rural counties. Overall, this has been a heavily Republican district—and the fastest-growing in the state, with an increase from 19% to 25% in its Hispanic population and an overall 32% population increase between 2000 and 2007. Republican President George W. Bush won the district with 62% in 2004. Republican candidate John McCain got 55% in 2008. Democratic candidate Barack Obama won the Travis County portion with 63%, while McCain got 68% in Harris County.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R)
Elected: 2004, 3rd term.
Born: Jan. 14, 1962, Dallas .
Education: Trinity U., B.A. 1984, St. Mary's U., J.D. 1987.
Family: Married (Linda); 5 children.
Professional Career: Fed. prosecutor, 1990-99; Dep. atty. gen., 1999-2003; Chief, Western Div. of TX., U.S. Attys. Office, 2003-04.
The congressman from the 10th District is Michael McCaul, a Republican first elected in 2004. He grew up in Dallas, studied business and history at Trinity University and went to law school at St. Mary’s University, both in San Antonio. He worked as a federal prosecutor and then moved to Austin in 1999 to be a deputy to then-Attorney General John Cornyn in Austin. In 2002, he joined the U.S. attorney’s office and was chief of the Terrorism and National Security Section for West Texas. McCaul was one of eight candidates in the Republican primary for the newly created congressional district in 2004. The top Republican contenders were McCaul, mortgage company owner Ben Streusand and former Judge John Devine. McCaul focused on his anti-terrorism work in the U.S. attorney’s office. “I’m the only candidate that’s had a top-secret security clearance,” he said. “I won’t have a learning curve.” Streusand, based in Harris County, called for less government regulation and opposed the Bush administration’s immigration proposals. Devine, who had refused to remove a Ten Commandments display from his Harris County courtroom, had the support of Christian conservatives and called for a crackdown on illegal immigration. In the primary, Streusand carried seven of the eight counties to finish with 28% of the vote, to 24% for McCaul and 21% for Devine.
|Michael McCaul (R)||179,493||(54%)||($1,728,339)|
|Larry Joe Doherty (D)||143,719||(43%)||($1,189,406)|
|Matt Finkel (Lib)||9,871||(3%)||($14,673)|
|Michael McCaul (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (55%), 2004 (79%)
In the runoff campaign, McCaul and Streusand agreed on most issues. In the absence of clear distinctions, they traded accusations about each other’s background. McCaul criticized Streusand’s past donations to Democratic candidates, while Streusand questioned McCaul’s service in the Clinton administration Justice Department. McCaul used his connections—his father-in-law is Clear Channel Communications chairman and Bush family friend Lowry Mays—to collect major Republican endorsements, including from former President George H.W. Bush, Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. He was also endorsed by his old boss, Sen. John Cornyn. McCaul won 63%-37% in a contest in a low-turnout event with only 24,000 votes. He carried every county except one, which he lost by seven votes. He faced no major-party opposition in the general election.
In the House, McCaul has a moderate-to-conservative voting record. He is on the Homeland Security Committee and is the ranking Republican on its Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment Subcommittee. As a freshman, he gained headlines with hearings that revealed more than $1 billion in fraud in Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. At the request of Republican leaders in 2006, he took the lead in a successful bill to increase the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s tracking of payments to victims in order to reduce corruption. In 2007, he collaborated with Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., on a commission to recommend steps to improve cyber-security. In 2008, he helped attach an amendment to an appropriations bill that prohibited sitting members of Congress from requesting money for projects named for them.
His re-election performances suggest he needs to work harder in this once-solidly GOP district. In 2006, against retired Navy Captain Ted Ankrum, an underfunded challenger, McCaul won 55%-40%. Hs challenger in 2008 was Larry Joe Doherty, a Houston lawyer who stars as a judge in a courtroom reality television show called “Texas Justice.” Doherty raised $1.2 million while McCaul raised $1.7 million. Doherty characterized McCaul as voting most of the time for the Republican agenda, including cuts in Medicare. McCaul said that he is an “independent voice” and accused Doherty of supporting a health care plan that would lead to rationing. McCaul won 54%-43%. He could face another tough re-election challenge in 2010.