August 11, 2006
Today's write-in madness

Confirming what we'd heard before, Shelley Sekula Gibbs will be a write-in candidate for CD22.

"It will be tough but not impossible" to win as a write-in, said Sekula-Gibbs, a Clear Lake dermatologist. "What I hope will happen is that the Republican Party will come together and select one candidate who will then receive their full backing. I hope that candidate is me."

Good luck with that. If there's been any word about who the One True Write-In will be after Tina Benkiser's closed door meeting, I haven't heard it. And there's at least one GOP official whose support Sekula Gibbs won't have.

Breaking ranks with state Republican Party leaders on Thursday, Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert endorsed Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace's write-in candidacy for Tom DeLay's former congressional seat.

Almost simultaneously, Harris County Tax Collector Paul Bettencourt emerged as a potential candidate for the same position.

"I'm going to support David, and I'm going to ask other Fort Bend Republicans to vote for him," Hebert said Thursday night. "If any Republican candidate can win in a write-in position in the 22nd District, it's Wallace."

The uncharacteristic endorsement might put Hebert on a collision course with Texas GOP Chairman Tina Benkiser and local members of the State Republican Executive Committee, who met Wednesday to talk about supporting a single GOP write-in candidate to face Democrat Nick Lampson and Libertarian Bob Smither for the congressional seat.

Tom DeLay attended that meeting, and sources say he explained his reasoning for staying in the race through the primary, and then deciding to drop out, resign from Congress and become a Virginia resident by June.

After Wednesday's meeting, Benkiser said in addition to the seven or eight people who'd run as replacement candidates for DeLay (before court rulings cut that effort short) some new candidates had emerged

The one name she mentioned was Bettencourt's.

Feel the unity, people. Feel. The. Unity.

There's an obvious problem with Bettencourt's potential candidacy.

In a Thursday interview, Bettencourt said he received a phone call about the possibility of mounting a write-in campaign for DeLay's seat. He said the call came from Republicans, but not Benkiser.

"I made it clear to the people that I talked to yesterday that it has to be a draft," Bettencourt said, meaning the GOP would have to come together and ask him to run for the good of the party.

If that happens, "I will consider it carefully, because that's part of the fiduciary responsibility of being a Republican. Sometimes," he said, "you may be the only person who can do something."

Bettencourt enjoys a reputation as the top vote-getter in Harris County, and said he's the only elected official in the county who won more votes in 2004 than President George Bush.

But should Bettencourt be "drafted" by GOP leaders, and agree to run, he has a lot to lose: His position as county tax collector/assessor. By state law, if he announces as a congressional candidate, he must give up his current elected county position.

I still don't believe Bettencourt will do this, though for sure it won't break my heart to see his office open up. Bettencourt's response about needing to be "drafted" has the smell to me of someone who recognizes the reality of the situation but is too polite to publicly scoff at his partymates' desperation. If he really does run, I'll be shocked, which is something for which I'd thought I'd lost the capacity after all that's happened in this race. Stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 11, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack