Races of the Week:Sessions vs. Frost

Thanks to the late (and very controversial) congressional redistricting in Texas, voters in the Dallas County-based 32nd District will have the rare experience of choosing between two sitting U.S. representatives with records of voting on every important issue. Republican four-termer Pete Sessions (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 99%) will square off against liberal Democrat Martin Frost (lifetime ACU rating: 16%). Frost moved from his Arlington home into Sessions’ turf after the redistricting knife made his former 24th District become almost overwhelmingly Republican.

“It is probably as clear a choice as you can find anywhere in the country–a clash of the different views of different generations,” says the 49-year-old Sessions, former telephone company supervisor, Boy Scout troop leader, and friend and supporter of George W. Bush since before Bush was governor of their state. At 60, liberal Frost has been in Congress for 25 years and, as a past chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, can command fat campaign donations from party donors nationwide.

As a member of the House Rules Committee and key Bushman in Congress, Sessions has been front and center in the fights for the President’s tax cuts and was calling for privatized alternatives to Social Security years before Bush became President and embraced the concept. Proud of his record and of talking about Social Security when it was the feared “third rail” of American politics (“No politician who doesn’t talk about it is worth their salt in my book”), Sessions points out that “Martin Frost’s tax policies will only support minimum-wage jobs. Today, Dallas County needs high-tech jobs, which require the infusion of investment and capital into the private sector. That is why the President’s tax cuts, which I supported and my opponent opposed, are so critical to us and that’s why I will fight to make them permanent.”

More recently, Frost has begun to behave more like Sessions and actually voted with the President to end the marriage penalty and increase the tax credit for children. As Sessions put it with a chuckle, “Maybe we’re getting to him!”

On just about every other issue, however, Sessions is not “getting to” Frost, since the Democrat still votes the same left-of-center line that he did in his former, comfortably Democratic district. “He was against the ban on partial-birth abortion,” said Sessions, “and I’m pro-life and not ashamed of it at all. He’s against medical malpractice reform, and I’m very much for it. No big trial lawyers are going to donate to me. And I’ll fight for a tougher border policy. He won’t.”

Given the Republican leanings of the 32nd District and the fact that Frost had to move to run there, This race might seem like a slam-dunk for Sessions. Not so, as the conservative hopeful himself is the first to say. Frost had to move before after past redistricting (albeit not the distance he moved this time) and still survived. In addition, his past record as the high-dollar-raising campaign manager for his party’s congressional campaign committee will almost surely guarantee that Frost will outraise Sessions–“all those trial lawyers and unions such as the AFL-CIO can sure come through for someone who always does what they tell them,” muses Sessions.

And that, in short, is the most compelling reasons for conservatives in Texas and throughout the nation to rally to the banner of Pete Sessions, Frost’s opposite number on just about everything–conservative, plain-spoken, and proud of it.