Fallout From Combest Departure Begins - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/13/02

Fallout From Combest Departure Begins

Just eight days ago, Representative Larry Combest was re-elected with 91% of the vote. On Tuesday, the 18 year Capitol Hill veteran called it quits.

"It's certainly a great loss for the region of the state and Congress to lose the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee," said political consultant Morris Wilkes.

Wilkes was having lunch with his brother-in-law when his cell phone started ringing off the hook.

"I looked at him and said something's going on, my phone's ringing way too much, and sure enough that's when it was, right after the announcement," he says.

An announcement which has made the services of Mr. Wilkes highly sought after.

"Well, they're asking me what the political realities are, the most common question is: what do you think? Do you think I have a chance? And you have to look at the district. It's 651,000 people residing in that district," says Wilkes.

Of that 651,000, 68% are Republicans, making the challenge from another party extremely difficult.

"That doesn't mean a Democrat couldn't win it, but it would certainly be a big hurdle for a Democrat," said Wilkes.

But not so difficult might be the possibility that someone from outside Lubbock County could win the seat, given that 63% of the voting population reside in communities other than the Hub City. Regardless of their hometown, the next representative from the 19th congressional district will have to have plenty of financial support.

"You're looking at somewhere between $300,000 and $750,000 to successfully campaign in that large of a territory," said Wilkes.

Republican or Democrat, Lubbockite or not, just one day after the resignation announcement, it's too soon to predict what will happen.

"There's just no guarantees at this point in time. You've just got to wait and see how all the feathers fly and the dust settles," said Wilkes.

And those feathers will be flying given the massive amount of voter interest seen in the last election for control of the House and Senate. And analysts say that this seat in particular may hold special interest for the White House given that the district contains Midland, the hometown of President Bush.

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