1. The state representative race between incumbent Republican legislator Rick Green and Democratic challenger Patrick Rose in 2002 (for House District 45) highlighted significant partisan changes in the state and important differences between the two candidates. Based on the events depicted in the film and your research, what were the reasons for the outcome in this race in 2002? Was the election result surprising, given what you know about the political climate of Texas and the state House district?
2. 24 year old Patrick Rose returns home from Princeton to run in the state representative race as a Democratic candidate against 31 year old incumbent Republican legislator Rick Green in 2002. What were Rose’s drawbacks as a candidate that made his attempt to unseat an incumbent difficult? What mistakes does Rose make as a candidate in his campaigning style and debate appearances? What strengths as a candidate does he possess that make him a formidable challenger to Green?
3. The film makes a big point of discussing Texas on the cusp of a sweeping demographic change, with the political force of Texas’s Mexican-American population- much more likely to be Democratic- resulting in the Democrats in Texas nominating oilman and banker Tony Sanchez as their candidate for governor in 2002, the first Latino to run for governor on a major party ticket. Democrats also select Dallas’s first African-American mayor, Ron Kirk, as the state’s first major-party black candidate for the U.S. Senate. How successful were the Democrats’ “dream team” of Sanchez and Kirk in the Governor and U.S. Senate races? What were the limitations of their appeal to other segments of the state’s population, beyond the usual Democratic constituencies of African Americans, Latinos, and women? Has this demographic change and mobilization of potential voters that would benefit Democrats taken hold in the state? Why or why not?
4. The political divide in Texas, as in much of the nation, in 2002 was between a more multi-cultural and urban Texas of the future, represented by the Democrats’ “dream team” of Sanchez and Kirk (competing for Governor and U.S. Senate, respectively), and the ascendant Republicans based in the growing Texas suburbs, small towns, and politically active churches (the legacy of former governor George W. Bush and his advisor Karl Rove). How does this divide play out in the statewide elections for Governor and U.S. Senate and in the overall control of the Texas legislature? How does the outcome in the state representative race between Green and Rose either support or challenge this larger pattern?
5. Consider the examples in the film of the two candidates and other individuals depicted in the film as expressing religious points of view. Republican legislator Rick Green is portrayed as devoutly religious. During a campaign appearance, his opponent Patrick Rose also declared that he was baptized and confirmed in his hometown’s United Methodist Church. Why are the religious views of the candidates an issue in this campaign? In your community, do candidates declare their religious affiliations as part of who they are and what they bring to the voters? Is religious affiliation important to you in choosing a candidate? Why or why not? What do you think of “separation of church and state” as it relates to political campaigns?