August 10, 2006
Quick CD22 link roundup

The way things are going in CD22 right now, it's like by the time I finish a post the situation is different from when I started it. So for right now, here's a quick look at what's going on.

Some fallout from the announcement by David Wallace that he will be a write-in candidate.

Benkiser is working to gather input from party members in CD-22 to assess who might serve as a lone write-in candidate to face Democrat and former congressman Nick Lampson, and Libertarian Bob Smither in November.

"We are only going to get behind one candidate, and when I say ‘we,' I mean the entire Republican family," Benkiser said.

That task might be made the more difficult as news reports suggested Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs also is preparing to announce a write-in candidacy. Sekula-Gibbs did not answer phone calls for comment Wednesday.

Wallace and Sekula-Gibbs are two of seven or eight candidates who were vying for the right to replace DeLay on the general election ballot for CD-22 until the courts put a halt to that plan.


Attendees at the Wednesday meeting with DeLay, Benkiser and members of the SREC said DeLay did not mention any specific candidate for his former seat in Congress.

"He's expecting there to be a write-in candidate, but he wants the party to make that decision," one attendee said. "He's going to stand behind the party."

Dani DeLay Ferro confirmed that Tom DeLay expressed his intention at the meeting to support whatever candidate the GOP chooses.

"Obviously, I have talked with Congressman DeLay," Benkiser said. "This race is not about him. This race is about giving voters a choice."

She was not specific about how a single candidate will gain the party's favor in serving as the write-in challenger to Lampson and Smither. She said holding a meeting with the precinct chairs from within CD-22 "is certainly an option."

While Sekula-Gibbs and Wallace have been most often mentioned as becoming the GOP's lone write-in hope to retain the congressional seat DeLay held for more than 20 years, Benkiser said new candidates are emerging.

Among them, she singled out Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt.

I find that a little hard to believe. Back when the now-forbidden replacement process was cranking up, Bettencourt's name barely came up - I think the only mention I saw was to deny that he was interested in being the Chosen One. Had that process been allowed to continue, and had Bettencourt been selected, he'd have been a formidable opponent to Nick Lampson - I'd have ranked only Robert Eckels higher than him in terms of likelihood to win. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why he'd now be interested in a quixotic, sure to fail write-in effort. If Bettencourt wants this job in 2008, he'll be a frontrunner for the GOP nod whether he takes this chance to get ahead or not.

Whoever the GOP chooses as its favored write-in candidate, party officials have made it clear that once a selection is made, other write-in candidates will be expected to withdraw for the good of the party.

On Wednesday morning, Harris County SREC member Kathy Haigler said that expectation could be enforced by telling "anyone else if they run" as a write-in, "they'll be blackballed forever" in future races by the Republican Party. "They're only going to hurt the party by spitting in the wind," she said.

The move by Wallace to announce his write-in candidacy while party leadership was discussing how to rally behind a single candidate was seen as an affront by some.

"If David Wallace is our nominee, then good for him, he got a jump on everyone," one attendee of Wednesday's party meeting said. "If he's not, he just shot himself in the foot or the head, I don't know which."

Benkiser strongly suggested later Wednesday that party discipline would be enforced.

"I think any candidate who would be of a caliber to represent Congressional District 22 has to understand that we must rally behind one candidate," she said. "If the party rallies around Candidate A, and if Candidate B cannot accept that…it would be political suicide."

Based on what I'm seeing at Chris Elam's site, Wallace and Sekula Gibbs don't have a prayer of being the endorsed write-in candidate, and they likely would not have much of a chance in a 2008 GOP primary, so what do they have to lose by this?

The DCCC has already jumped on Wallace with both feet. The way I see things progressing from here, Lampson will spend his money on nice, positive ads about himself in an effort to maximize his vote total. At this point, I don't see a need for him to even mention any write-in candidate, let alone attack one. If there's a good reason to do that, let the DCCC spend some of the money it had already slotted to this race for that purpose. Hopefully, they'll be able to redeploy that money elsewhere - CD23, perhaps, or even CD14.

The Chron says Sekula Gibbs still hasn't made up her mind, but when you read the companion piece on how to write in a name on the eSlate, you have to think she's just being coy.

In an answer to my question from before, Larry Sabato is now calling CD22 "Lean Democratic". That's an upgrade from "Lean Republican", but somewhat unbelievably to me, he's got PA-06 as "Probable D Pickup". Is this still caution until the ballot is certified, just in case DeLay changes his mind or something else weird happens, or does he really think there's a Republican seat that's more likely to flip than this one?

And finally, the Chron proposes a new nickname for Tom DeLay: "The Quitter". I'll drink to that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 10, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

I've been going with "Cut and Run" DeLay, turning their own rhetoric back on them.

Posted by: Easter Lemming on August 10, 2006 10:08 AM

The NRCC and the RNC will weigh more heavily on this than anyone else. They are the ones who control the party funds that would flowinto this race - not Benkiser.

Their support also triggers a lot of Conservative and DC PAC money. That is cheifly how most campaigns are funded.

Wallace is viewed in DC as the most elecatable candidate with the easiest ballot name to write in. If he gets NRCC support, you'll have GOP Members of Congress endorsing him and pressuring others to drop out.

Look for something to happen next week.

Posted by: Aaron Smith on August 10, 2006 4:36 PM

Does Bettencourt live in cd 22?

Posted by: texxas redd on August 10, 2006 9:13 PM