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Lampson Says No to Special Election in Latest Texas 22 Twist

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/cq/20060901/pl_cq_politics/lampsonsaysnotospecialelectioninlatesttexas22twist Lampson Says No to Special Election in Latest Texas 22
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2006
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      Lampson Says No to Special Election in Latest Texas 22

      By Matthew Spieler Fri Sep 1, 3:26 PM ET

      Democratic former Rep. Nick Lampson has decided not to
      compete in a belatedly scheduled Nov. 7 special
      election for the seat in Texas’ 22nd Congressional
      District, which was vacated in June by former House
      Majority Leader Tom DeLay — choosing instead to focus
      on his strong bid to take over this Republican seat in
      the general election to be held the same day.

      Lampson appears to have gained an edge in the race for
      a full term in the 110th Congress because of a huge
      Republican snafu that left them with a blank ballot
      line in the general election.

      And his decision to forgo the simultaneous contest for
      the final weeks of DeLay’s unexpired term in the
      current 109th Congress underscores the contention that
      he and other Democrats have made: that the short-term
      contest is a ploy by the state GOP to gain visibility
      for their candidate in the general election, Houston
      City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who has been
      forced by the ballot foul-up to run as a write-in

      Lampson and his allies point out that the special
      election was announced just this past Tuesday by
      Republican Gov. Rick Perry, and note that he had said
      as early as April — when DeLay, plagued by ethics
      controversies, announced he would resign from Congress
      — that he would not schedule a special election in
      Texas 22. DeLay officially quit his seat June 9, so it
      was vacant for nearly three months before the special
      election was slated for Nov. 7.

      Lampson accused the Republicans of unnecessarily
      complicating an already unusual election, telling The
      Galveston County Daily News, “If the governor and Tom
      DeLay had truly been concerned about the interest of
      Southeast Texans, we would have had this special
      election back in May,” adding that he did not want to
      “put voters through that extra confusion.”

      Perry’s announcement came 27 days after a federal
      appeals court upheld a July 6 ruling by a federal
      district judge that the state Republican Party could
      not remove DeLay’s name from the general election
      ballot and replace him with another candidate.

      DeLay changed his residency to the state of Virginia
      after his resignation in a bid to have himself
      declared ineligible to run in Texas 22, as the
      Constitution requires members of Congress to live in
      the states they represent. But the courts agreed with
      Democratic plaintiffs that the Republicans could not
      prove conclusively that he would not be a Texas
      resident on Nov. 7 and thus could not be deemed

      Though DeLay subsequently did pull his name off the
      ballot, the ruling precluded the Republicans from
      replacing him and forced them to go the rarely
      successful write-in route. But Republicans hope that
      the special election, which will place Sekula-Gibbs’
      name on the Nov. 7 ballot, will prompt the district’s
      strongly Republican-leaning electorate to consider
      taking the extra step required to write in her name
      for the general election.

      But Democrats have ridiculed the special election as a
      cheap political trick, accusing Perry of waiting
      “until the Republican ballot scam failed to call a
      special election to give the voters of District 22 a
      voice in Congress.”

      Although Lampson is effectively ceding the final weeks
      of DeLay’s unexpired term to Sekula-Gibbs, it will not
      be clear until later on Friday whether she will have a
      free ride in the special election. Candidates must
      meet a deadline of 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. Eastern)
      to file for that contest.

      A candidate in the special election who garners a
      majority of votes would be declared the winner and
      would retain the seat through the remainder of the
      109th Congress. If the top finisher only receives a
      plurality, however, the top two vote-getters —
      regardless of party — would proceed to a December
      runoff election.

      An outright victory Nov. 7 would allow the new member
      to participate in a post-election “lame duck” session
      that appears a virtual certainty, as Congress is
      expected to have unfinished business when it adjourns
      in late September or early October so incumbents can
      return home to campaign.

      Still, Lampson indicated that his campaign’s resources
      were more wisely focused on the general election, as
      opposed to a race that will elect a member to a tenure
      of less than two months.

      CQ currently rates the 22nd District general election
      as Leans Democratic because of the extreme difficulty
      in staging a successful write-in campaign. Please
      visit CQPolitics.com’s Election Forecaster for ratings
      on all races.
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