By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
This version of the Holocaust, not uncommon on the far right, is a close cousin of Holocaust-denial, ignoring, as it does, the role of the entire German state and the German people, as well as the efforts of Jews to escape Germany, not to mention the S.S., the cattle cars, the machine guns, the barbed wire and the dogs. But it's a story illustrating a worldview in which strong political and even moral disagreement are not enough. The true animating force in Broden's speech is the portrayal of persons with whom he disagrees as demons.
It's a lot for the 30th to swallow.
In the 30th District, even with her scholarship scandal, Johnson should have been invulnerable. She is former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, a faithful and productive bearer home of pork, the longtime darling of the city's conservative black preacher-ocracy and a loyal friend to downtown business interests.
As a 17-year veteran in the House, Johnson can command a sluice of campaign money from political action committees. As chair of the House subcommittee on water resources and environment, she enjoys broad generous support from public works construction interests. She is also enthusiastically supported by elements of the medical profession whose Medicare fees she has helped enhance.
Broden, on the other hand, ought to be not merely a token candidate but the Anti-Candidate in this district. In addition to being the black guy who hangs out at Tea Party rallies in the white suburbs, he is an Obama-bashing friend of ultra-right Fox TV talk host Glenn Beck.
And if those wet kisses of death were not enough to kill Broden dead in the 30th, on September 21 he was endorsed by Sarah Palin—the equivalent in Dallas minority politics, one would think, of a severed horse head.
Instead, it's almost a horse race. At least it's a race, which no one expected.
Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Neerman offers his own carefully hedged assessment: "I have not seen any polling data," he says. "The only way Pastor Broden wins that district is if he convinces a wide swath of Democratic voters to split their ticket and vote for him over Congresswoman Johnson.
"If he does that, he wins," Neerman says. "I know he has made tremendous inroads, and if anybody is going to do it, it would be Pastor Broden."
So what are the inroads? A big one is money. In summary campaign finance reports compiled through October 13, Broden was neck and neck with Johnson in fund-raising, with both at just over half a million dollars.
In the July 15 quarterly campaign finance reports—the most recent available which lists individual contributors by ZIP code—Broden was slightly ahead of Johnson in the amount of money raised from donors who live within the 30th district.
He was leagues ahead of Johnson in money raised from small contributors. People giving less than $200 accounted for 28 percent of his total money, versus six percent for Johnson.
The even bigger inroad for Broden, however, is the one the incumbent herself paved for him with her maladroit handling of the scholarship scandal. In September The Dallas Morning News began publishing investigative pieces by Washington Bureau Chief Todd Gillman and other staffers exposing a pattern of nepotism in which Johnson had diverted scholarship money to her own family and the children of top aide Rod Givens.
The funds were not public, and Johnson might have finessed the mess. She ritually paid back at least some of the money, but in repeated appearances on national TV and before the Morning News editorial board, the veteran Congresswoman demonstrated again and again that she really did not see anything wrong with slipping some cash on the side to her grandkids.
The question, of course, is not how she looks on Anderson Cooper 360 but how she looks in the 30th.
The district, a roughly mitten-shaped domain reaching up from below DeSoto and Wilmer in southern Dallas County to White Rock Lake and Love Field (with a carve-out for the affluent Park Cities) was 60 percent non-white in the 2000 census and will be more so when the 2010 census is published. It has been poor since Reconstruction and yellow-doggedly Democrat at least since LBJ.
Early in the campaign, the portrait of Broden painted by Johnson's camp was of a candidate with almost no connection to his own community, financed by money from outside the district, most of it probably from rich white conservative interests. Last week, confronted with evidence that Broden was doing at least as well or better than Johnson at raising money within the district, the Johnson campaign took another tack.
Eddie Reeves, a spokesman for her campaign, said in an e-mail: "As has been the case throughout her tenure as an elected official in the Texas House, the Texas Senate and the Congress, Ms. Johnson has never been an aggressive fundraiser. She has largely relied on the good word of hard work for her constituents spreading the old-fashioned way: by word-of-mouth."
Numerous attempts to reach Johnson for this story failed. Reeves said she would not comment. He went on to state the Johnson campaign's core anti-Broden message: "Her opponent has spent the last few years cozying up to people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and others, who want to turn back the clock on the progress that we have made. All the misleading, distracting, mudslinging ads won't change the fact that he is fundamentally out of touch with the community, and that's why the people are rejecting his message of division."