No time to party for little-known Democrat in Senate race




Posted on September 5, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 5 at 8:29 PM

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro's keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night was the second time the parties have turned to Texas to court the Latino vote.

Last week, Republicans invited U.S. Senate nominee Ted Cruz to rally voters. He got a prime time speaking spot on the first night of his party's convention.

But Cruz's opponent is not even with the Democrats in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In fact, many people don't know who he is.

Senate candidate Paul Sadler has his own mission in the Lone Star State. As Texas Democrats partied in Charlotte, Sadler missed the fun and skipped another big annual event for the first time in 35 years.

"Some people would say I've lost my mind... I missed the opening day of dove season," he said.

But since Sadler is missing statewide name identification as a candidate, he remained in Texas, driving his pickup truck to small cities in east Texas to get in front of every voter he can.

It's a long road.

Sadler hasn't been in the news for years, since his political experience dates to the 1990s. He served in the Texas House from 1991-2003, helping pass a 1995 education bill Republican Gov. George W. Bush liked so much he signed it in Sadler's East Texas hometown of Henderson.

Sadler is a lawyer who has defended insurance companies, but he's also has been a plaintiff's attorney.

From 2008, he was the executive director of the The Wind Coalition in Austin, a non-profit multi-state trade association of companies and groups promoting commercial wind generation.

He merged back into politics thinking Texas voters still expect government to solve problems. "Yet we managed to get together and get things accomplished for our state," Sadler said. "I think that's a record people want."

But few want to give him money to get his message and name in front of voters — including the Democratic National Committee.

Sadler has raised about $300,000 so far — a fraction of the $9 million Cruz pocketed for the GOP primary and runoff races.

Given his budget, TV ads appear to be an unlikely option for the Sadler campaign. Yet Sadler is also found lacking in the inexpensive social media methods of reaching voters. Almost 31,000 people follow Ted Cruz on Twitter; only 900 are signed up with Sadler.

Paul Sadler sees victory, though, if the usual Democratic voting pattern holds and he wins East Texas.

"And the next story that you'll see on election night will be the presidential election, and it will be the shocker in Texas," he predicted.

For the moment, Sadler is on a route traveled by many other Democrats, with few believing victory is at the end of road in Texas, where a Democrat hasn't been elected to the U.S. Senate in almost a quarter of a century.