U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, one of the Democratic incumbents targeted in the Republican redistricting effort, faces a tough challenge from Republican Ted Poe, who became nationally known for creative sentencing during two decades as a Houston felony court judge.
"For the casual outside viewer, this is a Republican district. And it's a Republican year," said Rice University political scientist Bob Stein. "But this is a much closer race than people realize."
Amy Walters, editor of the Cook Political Report, which analyzes races, said Lampson is forcing this race toward local issues such as flood control and pressuring Poe to address those issues. "Lampson could win by detaching himself from the national party label and running as an independent moderate," she said.
Poe is campaigning partly on his record from his 22 years on the Houston bench.
He has several factors working in his favor — name recognition, a reputation in Houston and a district created to elect him or someone like him — but he can't rely on those alone to win, analysts said.
Lampson acknowledged he was initially apprehensive about running in the district, which extends from Beaumont to northwest Harris County. Fifty-six percent of that is territory in Harris County that he does not represent now.
"It was intended for me not to win. But I got my confidence back," Lampson said. "Fund-raising is a key indicator of whether people truly support you, whether they want to invest in you."
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to Congress, is concentrating on Lampson and four other races in the state where Democratic incumbents are vulnerable because of the redistricting plan passed by the state's Republican-dominated Legislature last year.
Poe has received support from national GOP stars, including Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Sugar Land and House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, who have headlined fund-raisers on his behalf. Lampson has raised $1.5 million to Poe's $725,000, according to the latest campaign finance reports compiled by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.
As we approach Labor Day and get down into the acknowledged campaign season, I'm going to be pushing for donations to candidates and groups more often. I feel very strongly that the Democrats have a shot at taking the House this year, but whatever the odds of that actually are, there are plenty of individual races where a few bucks can help make a difference. Nick Lampson, to whom you can donate here, is a great Congressman, and back in 1996 when he was gearing up to knock off the evil Steve Stockman, he became the very first political candidate I ever gave money to. He can win, and you can help. We'll be featuring him again on Texas Tuesdays in the coming weeks - you can review all of the original TT posts on Congressional candidates as well as make a donation via the Texas Tuesdays Act Blue page. Finally, you can help the DCCC help Lampson and others by contributing to them as well. You'll be glad you did.Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 29, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack