October 15, 2008
Endorsement watch: Nick Lampson

I'll say this for the Chronicle: Their pace of making endorsements in maddeningly slow, but at least they've been easy to predict. That continues to be the case as they give the nod to Rep. Nick Lampson in CD22.

With looming national elections likely to cement his party's hold on Congress, constituents should carefully consider their community interest in choosing between Lampson and Republican Pete Olson.

Nationally, Republicans have targeted this race as one of the top chances to pick up a Democratic House seat. Lampson previously served four terms in Congress from Beaumont before being redistricted out of office. Since returning to Washington, he has cultivated bipartisan ties and taken positions against the House Democratic leadership on key measures. He supported expanded offshore drilling, voted against legislation to force a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and opposed the recent financial bailout plan.

Perhaps most significantly for the residents of the sprawling district, which extends from NASA and Clear Lake to Sugar Land, he used his influence as a majority party member to pass $42 million in earmarks for projects in District 22. Though they have a bad reputation, earmarks can be good when they are used to build drainage and transit infrastructure.

He has also worked to create a presence in the district, attending hundreds of town hall meetings to convince constituents of his sincerity.

"I believed that if I could show people that I was going to be available and accessible to them differently than what they'd ever seen before," says Lampson, "then they would honor that and respect me enough to send me back as their representative."

Equally as important, if Lampson wins he will be in a position to use his accumulated seniority to head a key House subcommittee overseeing NASA during the next session. He holds a strong commitment to increased funding for manned spacecraft development in the future.

This is clearly one election where the district's pocketbook interests should outweigh partisan considerations at the ballot box.

Not much I can add to that. Some of Lampson's votes have greatly frustrated local and national Democrats, myself included. They may help insulate him in that still-conservative district against charges of being "too liberal", not that the facts have ever mattered in that kind of attack ads. On the other hand, with the NRCC having to beat a retreat, and with Olson having some issues of his own, Lampson is much better positioned to make the "I vote my district, not my party" argument to the non-Democrats that he needs to persuade in a convincing fashion. This is still a tough race, but I feel more optimistic about his odds than I did earlier. If Lampson can hang on through the 2010 election, he may even wind up with a redrawn district that won't be nearly as hard for him to hold.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 15, 2008 to Election 2008

Considering that Olson is a Cornyn clone, if I were you I'd cut Nick come slack. Lampson has a tough district to hold. Look at Olson's website:

"One of the biggest lessons from the September 11th attacks is that our country can never be too vigilant and never be too cautious in how we protect America. It is a lesson Democrats in Congress seem to have forgotten. Having handled defense and intelligence related issues for Senators Gramm and Cornyn, I will work tirelessly to strengthen and protect our ability to defend America from future attacks."

More rethug fear-mongering for CD 22?

Olson is sliming Nick for being "soft" on immigration. Sound familiar? Olson wants to imprison the "illegals" and send them all back, wall off the border and throw even more drug users in jail.

Olson's "solution" to our health care problem is "a simple alteration of the tax code," *for businesses*. In other words, Olson is campaigning for a dysfunctional health care system in a state that is among the highest uninsured and underinsured in the nation.

Olson is peddling the rethug line that domestic "entitlement" programs need to be slashed so that taxes need to be reduced "to help working families." Guess whose families will benefit? The same ones that have benefited under GWB. Notice that Olson doesn't see the contradiction between reducing the size of government and continuing the Global War on Terror (TM).

Olson pledges to vote to launch a constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to a man and a woman. No mention on why most of the rest of the Constitution hasn't been followed by the republicans.

Pete Olson also states that abortion should only be permitted when the life of the mother is endangered, exactly Sarah Palin's stance. No mention of incest or rape. Of course, the personal choices of women about what to do with their own bodies are completely off the radar.

Nick Lampson has been a firm supporter of the expansion of mass transit in the Houston area, actively working to expand the Harris County Metropolitan Transit Authority's light rail system, which Tom Delay almost stopped, and advocates regional commuter rail. Olson's solution? More privately-owned expressways financed by highly regressive tolls. We desperately need better public transit in the Houston area.

Olson's solution to energy problems? Drill, drill, drill, especially offshore. This is ironic in the light of repeated hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

Bush, Cheney and Rove have all been here for "private" fundraisers for Pete Olson. It's not surprising that Tom Delay has been campaigning for him, since Pete Olson is is apparently a replay of the Delay nightmare.

C'mon, Mr. Kuffner. I have to live in CD 22. Lend us a hand.

Posted by: Mike Harrington on October 16, 2008 11:01 AM
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