Shelley CD22 2008
How much has short-term Congresswoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs hurt herself for 2008?
My guess is quite a bit. In case you haven't been paying attention, Shelley's first week in Congress was marred by 1) very widespread rumors that she was upset that Bush and Cheney didn't show up to her swearing-in, 2) a quote she gave that made her sound like she was going to be able to accomplish lots of things, and most importantly, 3) she managed to run off her staff en masse, and then 4) call for a silly, unnecessary investigation.
Still to come, she's got 5) the negative reaction when the City of Houston has to spend a few million bucks to hold a special election for her seat. Yikes!
Even though she did pretty well in getting over 40% of the vote as a write-in, she's hurt herself quite a bit. [Quick digression: her strategy was to educate the voters on writing her in. It worked in getting to 40%, but never had a chance of getting to 50%. She didn't give people a reason to write her in if they didn't already want to She still gets to run as Congresswoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, but chances of her winning the primary are less than 50%.
There was never that good a chance that she was going to escape a serious challenge. Sure, lots of people passed in 06, but that was to run in a precinct chair campaign, or later, for a write-in race.
The question is who decides to take her on. Paul Bettencourt has already announced, via a Kristen Mack Houston Chronicle column, that he's planning on running. He's hoping to scare other candidates off, so that he gets her one-on-one. Bettencourt is definitely popular among the Harris County activists, and polls pretty well in Harris as well. Once upon a time, he was even the Houston Press' favorite Republican. But will he be successful in clearing the field?
I don't know. Certainly Kyle Janek would have to take a strong look at running. He was up for re-election to the state senate in 06, so he chose to pass on this year. But he is the one candidate who can probably unite the regional factions, as a guy who lives in Houston, was born and raised in Galveston, and represents half of Fort Bend County right now. He can also certainly raise the money. There are rumors that he's waiting for Dr. Paul to retire in CD14, however.
Harris County Judge Bob Eckels would also certainly be a heavyweight who will consider running. You'd expect that he could raise the money.
There was a time when state Rep. Talton was thought to be running in 2008, but those rumors have cooled a little bit.
Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace might want to run, but he probably didn't help himself with this year's primary posturing.
If we end up with two Harris County candidates, it'll be interesting to see if a Fort Bend candidates gets in. It'd be easier to rally Fort Bend support if the other two serious candidates are both from Harris. Wallace might see that as a chance, as might Fort Bend County Commish Andy Meyers. Myers was one of Shelley's biggest backers, so my guess is that he'll stay out. Sugar Land State Rep. Charlie Howard might also think about getting in, as well as '04 DeLay challenger Tom Campbell.
My prediction is that Shelley will draw a serious challenger, and that she has an uphill battle to get the nomination. And hey, the primary is only 15 months away!
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