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.
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."
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.
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.