Former President Bill Clinton flew into South Texas Monday afternoon for a rally with Corpus Christi Rep. Solomon Ortiz, who was expected to win re-election handily, something he’s done regularly every two years since taking the seat in 1983.
But Mr. Ortiz, who is the subject of a House of Representatives ethics investigation, has found himself in a dogfight with tea-party-backed challenger Blake Farenthold.
The Brownsville Herald reported the Monday afternoon rally drew a crowd of 300, and a video posted by the newspaper included footage of an occasional empty folding chair among the cheering attendees.
Texas Monthly political guru Paul Burka noted Sunday that Mr. Farenthold, who was given no chance of unseating the incumbent early on, is suddenly getting an influx of cash and support from state Republicans.
“The Republicans would not be spending money in the district, nor would they be sending members to campaign, if they did not think they had a chance to beat Ortiz,” he wrote.
The congressman is fighting back hard: His campaign recently began running ads featuring a photo of Mr. Farenthold, who has campaigned as a family values candidate, in pajamas flanked by a lingerie model — a shot the challenger insists was innocently snapped at a charity fundraiser.
The Ortiz campaign says the charity fundraiser was “an S&M party.”