April 20, 2006
Eckels reportedly not running in CD22

Fort Bend Now is first on the scene with the news that Harris County Judge Robert Eckels will not be a candidate for CD22.

"It looks like I can do a whole lot more with the issues that are important to me…as a county judge" instead of a congressman, Eckels said.

One of those issues of importance is his family. "I think it's important to live in the same zip code as my daughter," he said.

Eckels said his polling showed he would receive "more than 50%" of the vote in a general election against Lampson, with Lampson receiving 35%.

That leads him to believe "it's our race to win," and other strong Republican candidates can beat Lampson as well. "If our folks come out" to vote, "we win," he added.

Boy, would I love to get my hands on that poll. Frankly, given that this is supposedly a 62-63% GOP district, just saying he'd get "more than 50%" isn't that strong a statement. His comment about "if our folks come out" is interesting as well. Is that merely an item of faith, or is it a concern that maybe "our folks" won't necessarily come out in November?

Another way to look at it:

"The truth is, like Tom DeLay, Judge Eckels realized this would be a very difficult race," said Lampson campaign manager Mike Malaise. "You're going to see more and more of these stories suggesting Nick Lampson will be extremely difficult to beat in November."

Malaise also said Lampson will have "more than $3 million raised by the time another candidate enters the race along with a strong independent record of voting to cut the deficit and debt, repeal the death tax, secure our borders, and improve education."

The money is a big factor. I don't doubt the ability of whoever the Chosen One will be to raise a lot of dough, but it doesn't happen overnight, and it's not like there aren't other races of interest for Republicans. Still, this will be a marquee event, so it's just a question of how quickly the money machine can get up and running. Maybe DeLay can squirrel a few bucks away from his defense attorneys to help seed things.

So who's left?

With Eckels out of the picture, the chances for already-announced candidates for DeLay's seat, such as state Rep. Charlie Howard, Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace and Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs grow stronger.

Eckels also mentioned state Sen. Mike Jackson of Galveston, state Rep. Robert Talton of Pasadena and Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt as potential candidates.

He said he believes Sekula-Gibbs "probably isn’t as well-known" across the district as some other candidates, adding that she and Wallace seem to have concentrated on building their support through their election to city office, and through community efforts.

Talton and Howard, he said, "probably have a stronger organization within the party." But Eckels said the candidate with the best recognition, other than himself, is Bettencourt.

Chris Elam says that Jackson and Shelly Sekula Somethingorother are in, and that there's no clear frontrunner at this time. No rush, y'all. Take all the time you need to make up your minds.

From my perspective, there's plusses and minuses to each potential opponent. I'd dearly love to see a special election to replace Somethingorother on Houston City Council, but she has the feel of a longshot, at best, to me. I also wouldn't mind seeing Janette Sexton have a shot at an open seat (I'm presuming here that Governor Perry would be as reluctant to call a special in HD144 before November as he has been in CD22 and SD19). Bettencourt would be interesting. He'd certainly appeal to the partisans, maybe not so much the independents. I'm guessing he's got some ties to the DeLay machine that would be worth exploring, too. He'd put up a tough fight, that's for sure. For what it's worth, I've always gotten the impression that he wanted to run statewide. If I'm wrong about that, we'll know soon enough.

Link via the Muse of Sugar Land, who reminds us that this is all still academic until DeLay actually moves to Virginia.

UPDATE: According to the Chron, Bettencourt is out.

Eckels said he polled in the district and found that he and Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt were the favorites. Bettencourt also has decided against making a run, saying he does not want to be an "absent father."


Besides Sekula-Gibbs, prospective candidates for the GOP nomination include Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace; Lawyer Tom Campbell, who came in second to DeLay in the four-way March Republican primary; former state District Judge John Devine; and state Rep. Robert Talton.

So if Eckels and Bettencourt were the top candidates, according to Eckels' Secret Poll, then everyone else is an also-ran. Looking at that list, I'd say it fits.

Oh, and are you ready for this? Wonder how long she's had that ready to go. Thanks to Lair for the catch.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 20, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

The way I read it, Sekula-Gibbs' seat would not warrant a special election were she to resign to run for Congress. Instead, it would be filled by a majority vote of the city council (from Article VII of the City Charter - http://www.houstontx.gov/charter/charter-7.pdf). Very interesting.

Posted by: Souperman on April 20, 2006 2:27 PM