Ron Paul

Après DeLay, Le Déluge

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I've been hearing plenty of good things about the Libertarian Party candidate in Texas-22, the district held (by judge's orders) by Rep. Tom DeLay. If they're true, Bob Smither will wrack up some Republican endorsements this week from party stalwarts who don't think a Republican can win the seat. Why can't a Republican win a snug, gerrymandered seat like this? Because no Republican besides DeLay will appear on the ballot, and local party leaders can't agree on a candidate to carry their standard as a write-in.

Challenging [Sugar Land Mayor David] Wallace for the party designation are Dr. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, 53, a dermatologist and a Houston City Council member, and Tim Turner, a Houston businessman. The Harris County tax assessor and collector, Paul Bettencourt, 47, said he was also willing to be considered but is restricted from campaigning because of his high state office, which he would have to resign to run.

It's going to be hard for any Republican to win here if the vote is split: Around 157,000 votes were cast in the last midterm election, 56,000 of them for a weak Democratic candidate. And Democrats have gotten stronger in the district—2004 candidate Richard Morrison got 112,000 votes, and 2006 candidate Nick Lampson has raised as much money—over $3 million—as Tom DeLay ever raised for a campaign. The GOP's best shot of beating Lampson might be to file behind the Libertarian candidate, who promises to vote with Ron Paul for Republican leadership in Congress.