District 22: Red or Blue?

Texas Congressional District 22 is drawn to be a Republican district, but whether it stays red or turns blue is being decided. The race appears to be closer than many people had expected just two and half months ago when it was determined no Republican name would be on the ballot. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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It was in August that the Republican Party held a meeting to choose a person to back as a write-in candidate. That person is Houston City Council Member Shelley Sekula Gibbs. University of Houston Communications Professor Bob Heath...

"When the campaign began the national and local commentators all agreed that it was an enormous up hill battle for her to run as a relative unknown, but more importantly as a write-in candidate. And I know that we will not know the full effectiveness of the campaign until we see how that plays out."

When former Congressman Tom DeLay's name came off the ballot, things still looked good for Democratic challenger Nick Lampson. Rice University Political Scientist Bob Stein...

"His best chances were DeLay; his worst chances were against any other republican who would be on the ballot. So he's somewhere between the best and the worst and that is a republican who is not on the ballot. And Shelley's proven to be capable of garnering enough attention and enough money that I say she has a very viable chance of being elected in the general election."

But that depends on voters ... and in particular how they handle the write-in process.

"My sense is that it will be a long night and it will be close. Probably close enough that if she, Shelley Sekula Gibbs, wins, I would imagine that Lampson would file a lawsuit and challenge the write-in campaign."

Texas is a voter intent state and the local election officials set a standard of voter intention. But federal law calls for a higher standard.

"HAVA, the Help America Vote Act, a federal law, suggests that intention is not sufficient. That there has to be an unambiguous and clear indication and that usually is in the form of the correct and full spelling of the names of the candidates since the clerks in all the counties have provided voters with the names and spellings of write-in candidates, I suspect that'll probably be the legal, at least that's been suggested might be the legal challenge."

If Lampson wins, he gets to represent the district of the man who essentially got him out of office by congressional redistricting. Again, UH's Heath...

"If Sekula-Gibbs wins with a write-in campaign; it will be testament to just how good the Republican political machine is at the local level. It's a working hypothesis."

Polls close at seven this evening ... that's when the questions will start to be answered as each ballot is counted. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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Capella Tucker

Director of Content

Capella Tucker joined KUHF in the spring of 1994 as a part-time reporter. She quickly gained a full-time position when she took over production duties for

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