In the end, Rep. Lizzie Fletcher avoided a contested primary.
In less than 24 hours, U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher went from having a competitive primary election in March to getting a free pass to the November general election for Houston’s 7th Congressional District.
On Monday morning, Centrell Reed, a Houston Democrat, qualified to be on the March 1 primary ballot against Fletcher. And later in the day, wealthy businessman Muhammad Tahir Javed filed to join the race just before the deadline to qualify.
But by the end of Tuesday, both challengers dropped out under pressure from key members of Congress.
Reed pulled out by the end of Monday and switched to a different Congressional race. And on Tuesday, Javed acknowledged he was being asked to get out of the race, but said he was determined to stay in it. Several hours later, Javed declared he had pulled out, too, with no further explanation.
Javed said a big reason he wanted to run for Congress was because of how the district had been redrawn to include nearly 200,000 new people from diverse Fort Bend County. The result is the 7th District now has the largest percentage of Asian voters of any in the state. About 70 percent of the voting-age population is now non-Anglo and 21 percent of the voting-age population is of Asian descent, according to U.S. Census records.
Javed, who immigrated from Pakistan nearly 20 years ago, said he felt like the district was perfectly drawn for him.
“This is home,” he said. “Our communities need representation.”
Javed, 55, has more than two dozen companies including hospitals, distribution networks, and real estate businesses. One of those businesses is Riceland Healthcare in Beaumont where former Congressman Nick Lampson, who once represented areas of Fort Bend County, is the chief operations officer.
The minute he got in the race, Javed said his phone started lighting up with people trying to get him to reconsider.
Reed, who lists her occupation as being in media, refiled her papers to run in the newly created 38th Congressional District, which includes parts like the Energy Corridor that have been in the 7th Congressional District. In that March 1 Democratic primary Reed will face Diana Martinez Alexander, who ran for Harris County Commissioners Court in 2020 and Duncan F. Klussmann, the former superintendent of the Spring Branch Independent School District.
See here and here for some background. For a lot of obvious – and yes, often self-serving – reasons, parties usually don’t like primary challenges to sitting incumbents. While Rep. Fletcher is no longer in a swing district, there would be a lot of money spent in her primary, and that’s money that could have been spent in November instead. It is what it is, and you can feel about it however you want. I will note that Centrell Reed has now made an announcement about her candidacy, which I am glad to see. I suppose this story explains why there hadn’t been an announcement before.
I don’t have any strong feelings about this right now. I like Rep. Fletcher and am not unhappy that she will be renominated, but I wasn’t terribly worried about her ability to win in that now-moot contest. I’d be interested to hear what Centrell Reed’s experience was – while Javed acknowledged that he came under pressure to leave the race, Reed wasn’t quoted about the issue in the story. Maybe she thought that CD38, which up until the end had no Dems running, would be a better race for her, I don’t know. I understand why Congressional Dems would want to clear the field for Rep. Fletcher – protecting fellow incumbents is always a top priority – but it’s not pretty to observe. This is what we have now.