Gohmert set to unseat Sandlin
GOP projected to pick up Texas' 1st Congressional District seat
(CNN) -- Incumbent Democrat Max Sandlin will lose a stiff challenge from former judge Louis Gohmert, CNN projects.
Sandlin was not helped when the Republican-controlled legislature's redistricting added GOP-leaning Longview and Tyler to Texas' 1st District and cut into its previously more Democratic territory.
In an attempt to win an area that President Bush carried easily in 2000, Sandlin highlighted his socially conservative views, noting his endorsement from the National Rifle Association and his support for prayer in public schools.
But Gohmert did his best to link Sandlin with the national Democratic Party. One Gohmert ad ended with the tagline: "Against tax cuts. A liberal record. A negative campaign. No wonder [Sandlin] supports John Kerry."
While Gohmert was on the attack, Sandlin asked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to call off the dogs. He requested that the committee stop running a negative television ad, saying the commercial incorrectly criticizes Gohmert's sentencing practices. Greg Speed, a spokesman for the DCCC, said the committee stood behind the ad's accuracy but would honor Sandlin's request.
Gohmert lists his priorities as lowering taxes, defending traditional marriage and supporting President Bush's war in Iraq and anti-abortion policies.
In the October 18 debate between the candidates, Gohmert repeatedly asked Sandlin whom he will support for president. Sandlin refused to answer directly, responding that as an independent voice he backs Bush when the president is right and respectfully disagrees when he is wrong.
Abortion was a hot topic in the final debate October 24, with Sandlin saying he voted against partial-birth abortion six times and for parental notification, which he called the "right policy" but also a "difficult policy." Gohmert accused Sandlin of having a "low grade" on the abortion issue. Gohmert said several anti-abortion groups support him.
Sandlin earned his B.A. and J.D. from Baylor University, and his career in public service began in 1986, when he was elected county judge of Harrison County. He has served in the House of Representatives since 1996 and was recently appointed to the Ways and Means Committee.
Gohmert graduated from Texas A&M University and served in the Army. He was elected Smith County district judge three times before being appointed to complete an unexpired term as chief justice of the 12th District Court of Appeals.