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Experts: Voters May Forgive Bernice-Johnson Scholarship Controversy

By Steve Pickett, Carol Cavazos, CBS 11 News
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Eddie Bernice Johnson

Eddie Bernice Johnson (Credit: Facebook)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The 30th Congressional District race between Democrat incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson and Republican challenger Stephen Broden has faced political theatrics that caught national attention.

In August, officials with the Congressional Black Caucus, of which she is a member, announced that 23 scholarships she handed out since 2005 had violated eligibility rules. Each member in the caucus receives $10,000 in scholarship money to give to individuals in the community. She reportedly steered scholarships to four family members and two children of one of her aides.

In most circumstances, this would be a huge Achilles Heel for a political candidate. But Johnson’s southern Dallas County district is Obama country, and Broden has loudly made negative comments about the President. That may not help him among black and Hispanic voters in the district, which is about 80 percent of its population.

“I think in most situations, if you dug deep enough with most politicians, you’re going to find something,” said Oak Cliff resident Billy Wade.

stephen broden Experts: Voters May Forgive Bernice Johnson Scholarship Controversy

Stephen Broden

Broden, who is from DeSoto, is a conservative Christian pastor of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship and has ties to the Tea Party. Sarah Palin endorsed him in September, but he is new to the political sphere.

Coupled with his claims that a violent overthrow of the government is still on the table in 2010, experts say many District 30 voters may look back to Johnson despite the scholarship controversy.

“You hear a little bit about Congresswoman Johnson, but folks are saying ‘look at her record of 17 years in Washington, and over 20 years prior to that in Austin’,” said Dallas journalist and radio talk show host Cheryl Smith.

On Tuesday, Broden’s campaign manager said the challenger was checking out problems reported at the polls, such as one polling location not checking voter identification.

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