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Political Observers: Tough Battle For 30th District Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas area Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson says she's confident she'll win an 11th term, even though she faces two Democrats in the primary for her 30th District seat: State Representative Barbara Mallory Caraway of Dallas and attorney Taj Clayton.

I asked her how concerned she is there may be a runoff. Congresswoman Johnson said, "If there's a run-off, I've done that before."

But that's when she was a state legislator, not a U.S. Congresswoman.

Two years ago, Johnson was found to have awarded thousands of dollars in college scholarships to family members and one of her aide's children - a violation of the rules of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Johnson paid the money back.

Fink: Do you believe this is going to hurt you now?

Johnson: "We'll know next Tuesday night."

Fink: But are you worried that it will?

Johnson: "I'm not worried."

Fink: Why not?

Johnson: "Because the people know me. It's nothing that I'm proud about, but it's nothing that I've done that I feel did not go uncorrected."

Because of the scholarship scandal, those who've watched this race closely believe this is the toughest fight Johnson has faced yet.

Robert Ashley hosts a daily call-in show on Dallas radio station Heaven 97.

Ashley said, "The Congresswoman has never run with a scholarship cloud over her head before. We would not be surprised with a run-off."

Ashley says State Representative Mallory Caraway has a history of beating incumbents.

Mallory Caraway says "The response I've been getting has been tremendous."

Mallory Caraway has faced her own negative headlines.

Last year, a domestic disturbance with her husband, Dallas city councilman Dwaine Caraway, went public.  He told police she brandished a knife at him.

I asked her if she thought the incident would hurt her politically.

Mallory Caraway says, "What Barbara Mallory Caraway is doing is going door to door telling the voters about how I can best serve them in Congress."

Attorney Taj Clayton says he's also received a lot of support.

Clayton says, "I'm not running against Eddie Bernice Johnson. I respect her service, but people are ready for new leadership. If they want new results, they recognize we need new leadership."

Clayton says his campaign won't be out-worked, and has focused much of their efforts on an area surrounded by U.S. Highway 67, I-35E, and I-20. "That's the Golden Triangle. That's the mother load of votes. In fact, it's one of the highest voting areas in all of Dallas County."

Congresswoman Johnson hopes her leadership and an endorsement by President Obama will help convince voters to keep her in Washington.

All of the Democratic candidates agree jobs and the economy, education, and health care are the district's top priorities.

The winner will face the Republican candidate, Travis Washington, Jr., next November.

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