State Rep. Robert Talton is giving up his seat to run in the increasingly crowded Republican primary for the 22nd Congressional District, as the GOP sets its sights on reclaiming the seat vacated by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Talton, of Pasadena, sent paperwork Monday to the Federal Election Commission and said he will make a formal announcement after Labor Day.
His declaration pre-empts the official entry of former Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula Gibbs into the District 22 race. She is opening her Clear Lake-area campaign headquarters today and announcing Clymer Wright, Houston term-limits activist and former Texas Finance Chairman for Ronald Reagan, as her campaign chairman.
Practically speaking, Sekula Gibbs has not stopped running after winning last fall's special election to fill the remaining two months of DeLay's term. She fell short, however, in her write-in candidacy against Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford, for the full term.
Other Republicans eyeing the seat include Pasadena Mayor John Manlove; family court Judge James Squier; Pete Olson, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's former chief of staff; and former Sugar Land Mayor Dean Hrbacek, who has formed an exploratory committee.
How he does against Lampson remains to be seen. I think almost anyone does better than Shelley, but Lampson will not lack for ammunition to use against Talton. And as weird as this may sound, Lampson could choose to attack him from the right on some things, in particular Talton's generally congenial relationship with the trial lawyers (of whom he is one). I can't say I look forward to that, but I also can't say I'll be surprised if it happens.
The biggest impact Talton's announcement will have is for the race to replace him in the State House. As Michael Hurta noted, his district is trending blue - the average countywide Democrat got 43% in HD144 last year, with Jim Sharp topping out at 46%. I've been hearing for some time now that if Talton were to decide against running for re-election, HD144 would be a top target for the Dems. (Given his strong opposition to Tom Craddick last session, Talton would probably have gotten a pass from the Dems had he chosen to stay.) As of today I've not heard of any potential candidates on either side, but I'm sure names will start popping up quickly. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: And here's our first contestant.
Ken Legler, a Pasadena native, is running for House District 144, the seat Robert Talton is giving up to take a stab at Congress.
Legler, a Republican, is already closely associating himself with Talton, saying he's proud of the job Talton has done.
"His service to our area, since his election in 1992, will be a model for anyone who hopes to succeed him," Legler said. GOP political consultant Allen Blakemore is running his campaign.