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The CD22 wrap-up story

It’s Sunday, so it’s News Feature Story Day, and today’s feature is an overview of CD22 and how Shelley Sekula-Gibbs came to be the One True Write-In. There’s lots of stuff here that’ll be familiar to those who’ve followed this all along, but we do get for the first time that I can recall some on-the-record comments about how the David Wallace Express went off the rails.

Some Republicans perceived Wallace’s filing as a pre-emptive move to discourage other candidates and force the party’s hand.

“There were concerns about the way he kept circumventing the party,” said Kathy Haigler, a GOP precinct chair in Harris County . “He decided he was going to bypass the whole process and win this race on his own. It was a flawed strategy. The more defiant Mr. Wallace was with the party, the wider and taller the wall got between us.”

Wallace questioned whether the closed-door gathering Aug. 17, at which a majority of the 83 precinct chairs in attendance voted to support Sekula-Gibbs, was representative of the party grass-roots. He’s still not convinced it was.

He did not attend the meeting, although his supporters were in evidence carrying his campaign signs.

Wallace’s tactics backfired, said Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt. “He had shown every proclivity up until that point to say he was in at all cost, period,” Bettencourt said. “The party called his bluff.”

Still, Wallace says he would not have done anything differently. “You go with the process as it’s unfolding and make decisions along the way. People can call it what they want,” he said.

Boy, you can see why Wallace was once considered the true heir to Tom DeLay. He’s got the “never admit I’m wrong, no matter how badly the course of action I chose turned out” thing down pat. You do realize what this means, right? If DeLay is like the Fonz, then Wallace must be Chachi. Nothing good can come out of this, I assure you.

More from Wallace:

“We were poised and ready to mount an aggressive campaign. But it was blatantly obvious that two write-in candidates would do nothing but hurt each other. Since Shelley’s name emerged as a result of that secretive meeting, I support her.”

Wallace had a natural constituency in the district as mayor of DeLay’s hometown. But he also has political enemies in Fort Bend County. He doesn’t speculate about who was behind the smear campaign against him as he and others were courting the precinct chairs for their support.

“When you’re in the business of buying insolvent companies and breathing new life into them, of course those things are going to show up,” said Wallace, an investment banker, referring to the bankruptcy documents circulated anonymously. “People can put whatever spin they want on that.”

Wallace says he wasn’t pressured to get out of the race but came to the decision on his own.

Will he seek the nomination in two years? “2008 is a long time from now,” Wallace said. For now, he’s committed to the Sekula-Gibbs campaign.

Translation: “Hell yeah! I can’t come out and say that because we all have to pretend that Shelley might win, but anyone who knows anything knows that this is what I’ve wanted all along. I may be sucking it up for now, but you better believe I plan to remind everyone about how I took one for the team starting on November 8.”

Meanwhile, Cragg Hines talks to Rick Hasen about the Guerra v. Garza case and other issues regarding what write-in votes will or may be counted. I still believe that this is unlikely to be of anything but academic interest, but we may as well start the discussion now just in case.

Elsewhere on the editorial page, former FEC chairman Bradley Smith uses the DeLay case as evidence that election laws should be loosened.

In Texas, for example, indicted former House majority leader Tom DeLay chose not to seek re-election. He moved his residence to the Washington area and withdrew from the race for his House seat. Texas Republicans sought to replace him on the ballot. But Texas law makes it difficult to substitute for a candidate nominated in a primary, and Texas Democrats successfully sued to prevent the Texas GOP from naming a replacement for DeLay. The result is that voters in that heavily Republican Texas district will not have a Republican nominee listed on the ballot in November.

This is an incredibly shallow and naive recapitulation of the events in CD22, which ignores DeLay’s manipulation of the process, the Constitutional logic used by the judges, and the rationale for Texas’ stringent candidate withdrawal laws in the first place. I believe Smith has a decent point in general, but there’s no way that the DeLay saga bolsters his case. I don’t have the time or energy to write a full-blooded response to this right now, but someone needs to.

Finally, Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert has responded to charges that he broke State Code of Judicial Conduct rules by publicly endorsing candidates in the One True Write-In anointment process. I’m still not convinced of this, but I wasn’t convinced that the Dems’ lawsuit to prevent DeLay’s replacement was going to work, so what do I know. Muse has the background on this.

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4 Comments

  1. Kevin Whited says:

    I believe Smith has a decent point in general, but there’s no way that the DeLay saga bolsters his case.

    But if you believe in Smith’s point “in general,” then it seems you have to acknowledge that his proposed solution would have the effect of making it much easier for political parties simply to swap out unpopular political candidates. There’s no denying that a significant weakening of the Texas law as intepreted by the Fifth Circuit would have exactly the effect of allowing a replacement in the DeLay race (something the 1995 5-4 term limits decision by the Supreme Court as interpreted by the Fifth Circuit does not now allow).

    It is unfortunate that election law sometimes results in the inability of parties to replace a candidate in what most people would agree are legitimate circumstances (which is Smith’s broader point, whether you agree that DeLay’s circumstance bolsters his case). But such laws were enacted with a certain end in mind — ending last minute candidate swapping. Weakening such laws would have the effect of promoting Torricelli/DeLay style candidate swapping by both parties.

    For that reason, I’m far less willing than you to concede Smith has a decent point, in general or in detail.

  2. Gosh. you guys ever hear of something called a “primary”?

    It’s when the voters in the party vote to chose their candidate. Look into it.

    And if your candidate quits. Hey. Lessons learned. Take it like a man.

    Or a quitter.

  3. Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. I think Smith’s general thesis that ballot access laws are too restrictive is a worthwhile one. I also think his citation of the DeLay saga as evidence of the problem that hes seeks to address is misguided and adds nothing to his point. That’s all.

  4. muse says:

    I’m confused. Which ballot laws are too restrictive? Even in general? Because I sure don’t think the DeLay case exposed any that were too restrictive. I really don’t get Smith’s point.