Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Early Prognostications....

It's generally thought that of the e-i-g-h-t announced candidates in CD22, just three are real contenders: Former Sugar Land Mayor Dean Hrbacek, Former Gramm/Cornyn staffer Pete Olson and former (eight week) Congresswoman Shelley Sekula Gibbs.

The rest (maybe with the exception of State Rep. Robert Talton) either have no real base, no money to build name ID or no business really being in the race (more on them later).

Olson and Sekula Gibbs have stong war chests -- but are also carrying a lot of other baggage.

Olson, 45,only moved to the District about two months ago after a 20-year absence. He's raised a ton of money -- but only 5% came from within CD22. Most of it came from out of state! His opponents are likely to pick up on that and start pounding him on it -- no one likes a carpetbagger. He's garnered the endorsement of Former State Senator (and his former boss) Phil Gramm. Most folks, however, are not going to get real excited about a policy wonk. As Texas Monthly pol Paul Burka recently wrote about Olson: "Staffers, by definition, are followers, not leaders. These days, they tend to be ideologues (especially if they worked for a strong ideological figure like Phil Gramm)."

Sekula (no hyphen now) Gibbs, is a former Houston city councilwoman and a dermatologist. She won a special election in 2006 to serve the district (for about 8 weeks) to finish out DeLay's term, but lost the race to Dem. Lampson in the general election -- mainly because she was forced to run as a write-in candidate. She's been campaigning non-stop and raising money ever since. On paper, she looks good but....

Sekula Gibbs, 55, made some major missteps in the short time she was in Washington. Most notably seven staff members, who were former staff members for former U.S. Representative Tom DeLay resigned from Sekula-Gibbs's office in a mass walkout during the very short time she served. She also sent out some silly e-mail alerts (the most memorable being the one where she bragged about having "perfect attendance" during her 8-week term.) A lot of folks (including donors) who initially supported her in 2006 have jumped ship to other candidates.

The biggest problem Olson and Sekula Gibbs may have, however, is that they are NOT from Fort Bend County. (look at map). While the district is heavily Republican in both the eastern portion of the district (where Sekula-Gibbs comes from) and in the western portion (where Hrbacek resides) -- most of the voters come from Fort Bend County.That may give Hrbacek, the only real Fort Bend candidate, the edge in this crowded race.

Even Lampson was shrewd enough to move to Fort Bend County before trying to run for Congress here.

Hrbacek, former mayor of Sugar Land, is both an attorney and a CPA as well as a successful businessman. He's lived in Fort Bend County for more than 20 years. Moveover, he also has strong ties to the Clear Lake and Pearland areas (where he grew up and went to school). He's considered by many to be an ideal candidate because of his very successful track record in business and politics and the lack of negatives in his background.

He has the most active grassroots support of any of the candidates and a growing volunteer base that is working hard for him. Although Fort Bend support is not solid behind him (there are some local activists working for Olson and Gibbs). Hrbacek's largest challenge will be getting enough name ID and support outside of Fort Bend before March to ensure he makes the run-off. He'll also be opposed by a local, liberal newspaper publisher with who has taken issue with Hrbacek in the past and is actively supporting Lampson.

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