CONGRESSMEN here have been quick on the overdraw, but it's too soon to conclude that they shot their re-election chances full of holes.
The three Texans on Rubbergate's "most wanted" list are Democrats: Ron Coleman of El Paso (673 checks), Mike Andrews of Houston (121 checks), and Charles Wilson of Lufkin (81 checks). Information released so far implicates to a lesser extent another eight Democrats and four Republicans from here.
Republican candidates and party officials are eager to march to the polls at the head of the lynch mob they say is forming. In the races against Coleman, Andrews, and Wilson, "our position was materially enhanced," says state party chairman Fred Meyer.
Timing favors the incumbents. They had already won the state's March 10 primary before the bad news on checkwriting bounced into the open.
And "it's an awfully long time until [the general election in] November," says Clay Zeigler, a newspaper editor in Rep. Andrews's district. He expects "a wear-off factor."
Rep. Wilson's southeast Texas district is "the third hole in the Bible Belt," says Dan Bledsoe, a reporter at the Lufkin Daily News. But at election time, he believes, voters will remember Wilson's record of bringing the district "nice little government contracts."
An editor elsewhere in Wilson's district adds, "We haven't been flooded with letters of outrage," and calls the scandal "overhyped."
The El Paso Herald Post has called for Ron Coleman to resign because he told the editorial board last fall that only four checks had been held. Once the other 669 came to light, "it was construed that he lied," says politics editor Peter Brook.
However, Mr. Brook adds, "the public is still chewing" on Rubbergate.