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Candidates Make Final Push as Nov. 6 Approaches - Close Races in Texas and Across the Southwest

Chris Eudaily
TPR News

During the last two weeks of the 2012 campaign, candidates make their final sell to voters, but in close races like that between Francisco Canseco and Pete Gallego there is a different kind of urgency. The Quorum Report's Harvey Kronberg talks about some of the interesting storylines he is watching as we approach Nov. 6, and we take a look at some other election issues from across the American Southwest.

Time is Running Out: The final days before the election

The 23rd Congressional district of Texas is one of the largest districts in the nation. Running along 800 miles of the U.S. Mexico border, it is larger than Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware combined, but winning the seat means more than adding one more party vote in Congress, it’s a window into the future of politics in Texas.

Two days before the early voting polls open, incumbent Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco's campaign headquarters is going full steam on the North Side of San Antonio, with volunteers on the phones making a push for their candidate. In one corner, Sen. John Cornyn stepped in to make calls for the incumbent representative who won the seat two years ago by a slim 7,500 votes.

"This is ground zero," said Sen. John Cornyn (R) at Canseco's campaign headquarters. The democrats want this seat worse than they want any other congressional seat in the country."

Since Canseco's victory two years ago, the district lines have been re-drawn, and court battles following the redistricting have found that the new lines were deliberately drawn to give more of an advantage to Republicans running in the district.

"A lot of the Latinos that had a high history of turnout were taken out of the district and replaced with Latinos with a low history of voter turnout," said  challenger Pete Gallego from his campaign headquarters on the South Side of San Antonio. "So it's clearly a turnout question."

Though Texas is dominated by Republicans, the 23rd Congressional District is one race that is close enough to keep an eye on the night of November 6.

Close Races in Texas

While there’s a lot of excitement for the national races – the White House and some key Senate and Congressional seats – in Texas, Nov. 6 is going to be pretty ho-hum and predictable. But political junkies like the Quorum Report's Harvey Kronberg will still find the voting tallies pretty darn interesting.

"No Democrat since 1998 has scored above 44 percent statewide with the exception of one judicial race," said Kronberg. "So if Obama scored 44 percent back in 2008 and if the most recent polls in Texas are to be believed, he is underperforming four years ago. However, if he were to have a late surge in Texas and get maybe to 45 percent or 46 percent, at least Democrats would have something to point to to say that things are trending their way."

Kronberg points to two competitive congressional races in Texas as ones to watch; The race between Canseco and Gallego in West Texas that has always been competitive, and a surprise race in the Houston/Pasadena area, State Rep. Randy Weber (R) vs. former Congressman Nick Lampson (D). Kronberg says that on paper, the district is safely Republican, and is the former district of Ron Paul, but late polls have shown Lampson is in the hunt.

Election Coverage From Across the Southwest:

New Mexico's Politics Rooted In History

New Mexico is not really in play in this year’s presidential election. It’s expected to go solidly for Obama, but it still has the potential to take on a larger role in the national debate over immigration. Sarah Gustavus has more on New Mexico’s history and the current political climate.

Credit State of New Mexico
Official portrait of Republican New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, the first female Hispanic governor in the United States.

New Mexico Governor Wades Into Legislative Races

This is a high stakes election for first term New Mexico Republican Governor Susana Martinez-- and she’s not even running. The country's first Latina governor has seen her legislative agenda consistently blocked by Democrats. To help turn the tide for her, conservative political action committees are spending big money to win more Republican seats in Santa Fe. Fronteras reporter  Mónica Ortiz Uribe reports.

What the Presidential Race Means for Young Immigrants

Moving further west in Arizona - Young immigrants are watching the presidential election closely. There’s a lot at stake with two candidates who have widely differing views on the subject. From the Fronteras Desk in Flagstaff, Laurel Morales reports.

In Bilbray-Peters Race, Immigrant Activists Try Making Their Mark

The race for Congress in California's 52nd District – pitting incumbent Brian Bilbray against Democratic challenger Scott Peters - is one of the most closely watched in the nation.  And because Bilbray holds a post that gives him big influence over national immigration policy, young immigrant activists are among the people hoping to influence this race's outcome. As part of our 'Fronteras Vote' series looking at key races in the Southwest, Adrian Florido has this story. 

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi