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It’s unity time!

Today’s the day for the big closed-door Benkiser Gang meeting in Pearland to determine who (if anyone) will be the One True Write-In candidate.

Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace officially filed as a write-in candidate Friday. And Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs said she will do the same if she gets the backing of the state party.

Benkiser said Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt has expressed an interest, as has former state GOP executive committee member Tim Turner.

“We hope we can all unify behind one candidate because of what is at stake, not only in this race, but this election,” Benkiser said. “Candidates need to set aside personal agendas and do what is best for the Republican family.”


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

“I firmly believe everyone in this race will get behind one candidate,” said Turner, touting his conservative roots in the district and his party work. “It would be a great disappointment if Mayor Wallace chooses to put himself ahead of the Republicans in this district. That would be an unfortunate event and won’t be forgotten.”

Prepare to be disappointed, Tim.

With dwindling hopes of keeping Tom DeLay’s longtime House seat from falling to a Democrat in November, Texas Republicans on Tuesday called an urgent meeting for Thursday to exercise their only option: agreeing on a write-in candidate.

But that slender prospect – no such write-in campaign has succeeded in the state – seemed to suffer a blow when a leading candidate facing party opposition disparaged the meeting, saying “that may have worked in Moscow,” and vowed to keep running even if it meant two Republican write-in candidates.

“I’m in the race and I’m in it to win,” said the candidate, David G. Wallace, the part-time mayor of this booming Houston suburb named for its onetime Imperial sugar factory. He said he might be too busy campaigning to attend the meeting.

Is there a more beautiful sound than that of a Republican comparing other Republicans to communists? I can’t think of one offhand.

“Lampson’s going to win, that’s all there is to that,” said Bill Miller, an Austin lobbyist and political consultant close to the Republicans.

The Republicans are not officially conceding that, citing some rare successful write-in campaigns in several other states. “My hope is that we can unify behind one candidate,” said Tina J. Benkiser, the Texas Republican chairwoman, who called for the Thursday meeting of 150 precinct leaders and other party officials. But, she said, “this is going to be a challenge at best.”

Mr. Wallace said he saw Ms. Benkiser as no friend of his campaign, but she insisted she was neutral. “I don’t have a dog in this race,” she said.

But Gary Gillen does, which is another reason why I said that the Republicans here are not as organized as the national prognosticators seem to think. (I note that Chuck Todd still thinks there are seven races that he thinks are more likely to flip than this one. Amazing.) I admit, that’s a surprise to learn. I wouldn’t have thought that as recently as six months ago. The evidence is clear, though. The only question is what it will cost them besides this seat.

Speaking of cost:

[Republican consultant Ted] Delisi, whose wife, Deirdre, is deputy chief of staff for Governor Perry, said a strong write-in effort could make Mr. Lampson spend more of his war chest, last accounted at close to $3 million, and leave him with less to devote to re-election.

I can just about guarantee that Lampson was going to spend most of his money anyway. He knows this race is about 2008 as much as they know it. I can also just about guarantee that Lampson will have little trouble building his warchest back up.

As this article also spoke about the weird four-way Governor’s race, I want to mention a thought that was suggested to me recently. One person who may not be too happy with any effort by either the Republican Party of Texas or the NRCC to dump money on CD22 in an effort to get Republicans to step out of their usual straight-ticket pattern and support the One True Write-In is Rick Perry. He of all people will want to push the “vote straight R” mantra, as it’s the easiest way by which he can keep portions of his base from wandering away to Strayhorn or Kinky. It’s a little funny in that I think the kind of Republican voter who’d be receptive to a support-the-write-in message is precisely the kind of voter who’d be sticking with Perry regardless of whether they push the straight-R button or not. I expect Perry won’t want to take any chances as far as that goes. I wonder if that might throw a wrench into any plans to spending money on this race, or if it might cause some more discord if such plans follow through over Perry’s objections.

Finally, Greg takes Gary Polland to task for his analysis of what went wrong in the matter of TDP versus Benkiser. I just want to add that if you scroll up on Polland’s page, you see this:

It is too bad Tom was taken down so hard and essentially “forced” to walk away from an often brilliant career. The final straw pulling his name from the ballot came this past week. Tom should have been allowed to retire on his own terms, he deserved it.

I cannot fathom how anyone could look at the events of the past months and not conclude that Tom DeLay’s own actions were the single biggest cause for the spot the Republicans now find themselves in. I just cannot.

Oh, and to end this all on a positive note, while the Republicans are searching for the elusive best case scenario, Nick Lampson continues to work the district and rack up endorsements. You know, the things that good candidates do.

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One Comment

  1. Charles Hixon says:

    “[Wallach] said he might be too busy
    campaigning to attend the meeting.