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Texan Jewish lawmaker loses race

DALLAS, Nov. 3 (JTA) — Martin Frost, the only Jewish congressman ever elected from Texas, had only kind words for his friends as well as his opponent, who this week ended Frost’s 26 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I love every one of you, and I want to express my congratulations to Congressman Sessions,” Frost told nearly 200 disappointed supporters on Tuesday night. “This was a hard-fought campaign. We both took our views, our records to the public, and the public in this particular congressional district has made a decision.” Voters in the 32nd District chose Pete Sessions, a Republican, over Frost, a Democrat, by a 54 percent to 44 percent margin, with Sessions unofficially receiving some 109,000 votes to Frost’s 88,000. The men fought over one of the congressional districts redrawn last year by Republicans in the Legislature, a move widely described as likely to reduce the number of Texas Democrats in Congress. Redistricting will be reviewed by the Supreme Court, but not in time for this year’s election. Though Frost enjoyed “favorite-son” status among many in the Jewish community, Sessions garnered support from the local chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Frost, the senior member of Congress from Texas and the ranking Democratic member on the House Rules Committee, also extended a specific thank you to the Jewish community. “It’s been an honor to be the only Jewish congressman from Texas, and I’ve enjoyed representing the entire area,” he told the Texas Jewish Post. “The Jewish community has been important to me in my career and, as far as I can tell from the results, I did very well in the Jewish community of Dallas tonight.” Frost grew up in Fort Worth, was a member of local temple youth groups. Early in this campaign, he cited those Jewish connections for raising his interest in social justice. Asked by a reporter if he might run for governor, Frost said, “No, I’m not looking at any other political race. I expect to stay active in politics and in government, but I’m not looking to make any particular race.” He added, though, that “You never know what the future will bring.” Frost said he told his family and friends that “politics is a risky business” and “I’ve won more than my share. I made a decision that, as a Texan, I was going out with my boots on, and I wasn’t going to just hand something over to the opposition party. I did well as a Democrat in a district that was drawn for a Republican.” Sessions surged to victory this week, one day after he appeared at a rally with President Bush on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The Sessions and Frost campaigns spent a combined $8-million-plus, saturating the airwaves with harsh ads and bombarding residents’ mailbox with circulars. Frost, 62, the son of an aerospace engineer, graduated from Paschal High School in Fort Worth. He received both Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Arts in History degrees from the University of Missouri and a law degree from the Georgetown Law Center in Washington. Prior to entering law school, Frost worked as a newspaper and magazine reporter, and was a staff writer for the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report. Following graduation from Georgetown, he served as a law clerk for Federal Judge Sarah Hughes of the Northern District of Texas and practiced law in Dallas until his election to Congress in 1978. Just two hours after election polls closed on Tuesday night, Frost’s campaign manager, Marc Stanley, acknowledged the defeat. Stanley and a sullen-faced Frost — his wife at his side — walked to a podium, nodding to the applause of 200 supporters and a dozen reporters clustered among a bank of live television cameras. Stanley noted Frost’s “courage” for running. A lot of people would have said, ‘You know, I’ve got 26 years of proud accomplishment. I’m just going to cut and run.’ But Martin Frost said ‘No, I’m going to stand up and do what’s right,’ and that’s what he did. He ran the most incredible campaign possible.’ “