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Texas 22: Lampson Pushes Special Election For DeLay's Seat

As state and national Republicans continue to debate whether a special election should be held to fill the remaining months of Rep. Tom DeLay's (R) term, in the 22nd District, former Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson is making clear where he stand on the issue.

Lampson, the Democrats' 2006 nominee in the district, held a press conference in Sugar Land (DeLay's hometown) this morning demanding that DeLay resign immediately, a move that would force Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to call a special election to fill the seat on May 13.

"Tom DeLay lost this race," said Lampson. "Now, it's time for him to move on." Lampson went on to argue that with the country at war in Iraq and issues like immigration reform being debated in Congress, the district needs representation between now and November.

Lampson's strategy is sound, though likely it will be fruitless. A short campaign would play to the Democrat's strengths as he reportedly has roughly $2 million in the bank and is known by approximately half of the district's voters. It's unlikely any Republican would be able to match Lampson's fundraising or name identification edges in so short a time. The GOP would also be unlikely to unite behind a single candidate -- effectively splintering the Republican vote in the district.

DeLay has said repeatedly that he will not leave office until late spring or early summer -- a delay that would make it impossible for a special election to be held in May. Under state law, Perry still has the authority to call a special election between the day DeLay resigns and November if he deems it to be an "emergency" opening. National Republicans and DeLay insiders are opposed to such a move, but some Perry advisers are advocating for it, according to an informed GOP source.

Kathy Walt, a spokeswoman for Perry, told the Houston Chronicle this week that the governor is likely to call a special election shortly after DeLay formally resigns. The winner of that special election would only serve out DeLay's remaining time in the 109th Congress. One benefit to that: If the same candidate won the special election and the general election, he or she would have a leg up on House seniority at the start of the 110th Congress.

As for replacing DeLay on the general election ballot, the precinct chairs in the 22nd District will select four people from their own ranks who will then choose the new nominee. The two leading names mentioned are Harris County Judge Robert Eckels and Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 6, 2006; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  House  
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