Which explains why Montoya-Coggins, who probably would have been a liberal Democrat in the old days, criticizes Sessions for not voting to cut middle class taxes enough and calls herself "fiscally conservative." Sessions, who went to Washington as an all-government-is-evil conservative (despite the fact that his father was a federal judge and director of the FBI), has supported liberal litmus test items like expanded Medicare coverage and adding some sort of prescription drug plan for seniors. Says Bryan Eppstein, a Fort Worth political consultant who usually works for Republicans: "Pete hasn't lost touch with his district."
This is not to say there aren't differences between the candidates. Sessions is still a hard-line conservative who votes regularly against the National Education Agency, sponsored a constitutional amendment to make it difficult to raise taxes, and voted against campaign finance reform in 1999. Montoya-Coggins worked in the Clinton White House for two years, and when Clinton appeared at a fund-raiser for her in Austin in 1999, it was at the home of Lloyd Doggett, one of the last of the unreconstructed Texas liberal Democrats. But thanks to what passes for political discourse these days, voters in the 5th will have a hard time figuring out those differences.
And everyone else will have to suffer through the commercials.