RESULT: Pete Olson (R) 53% – Nick Lampson (D) 45%
Rothenberg described U.S. Representative Nick Lampson’s victory in 2006 as, “a mega, mega super-duper fluke. This is the former Tom DeLay open seat.” [Salon.com, 7/21/08] Lampson had previously served four terms in Texas’ old 9th District, before being redistricted out of office in 2004. Although he worked hard and raised a ton of money, Lampson’s Congressional comeback in 2006 was aided by a couple events: first, he started running against scandal-scarred former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R), who wound up resigning from the House five months before Election Day. Then, courts blocked Republicans from filling DeLay’s vacancy on the ballot, forcing their preferred candidate, Shelley Sekula Gibbs, to run in a general election as a write-in candidate.
Lampson is a top GOP target. After months of internal warfare, Republicans were relieved when former Senate aide Pete Olson defeated Sekula-Gibbs (68.5 % to 31.5%) in an April GOP runoff; Sekula Gibbs was seen by GOP leaders as increasingly erratic and a weak candidate against Lampson. With Olson as their nominee, Republicans believe they have a real shot of ousting the incumbent. As reported in Roll Call, “Republicans will argue that Lampson’s record on tax cuts and energy, as well as his support for legislation pushed by labor unions, will hurt him, along with what they will contend is a failed record on addressing illegal immigration. The GOP also expects Lampson to suffer because it is a presidential year, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is expected to beat Obama in the 22nd district.” [Roll Call, 7/8/08]
The Lampson Position:
ENFORCEMENT ONLY. On his campaign website, Lampson offers the following position on border security and immigration: “Illegal immigration and border security are very serious problems here in Texas. I am committed to fighting illegal immigration and making sure we get our borders under control.” [Nick Lampson for Congress, accessed 5/15/08] Lampson continues, “We must also crack down on employers hiring illegal immigrants. For too long we have been turning a blind eye to businesses that break the law and exploit the labor of illegal immigrants. In 1999, 417 businesses were sited [sic] for hiring illegal immigrants. That is not a lot. But in 2004, just three businesses were sited [sic] for hiring illegal immigrants. It is clear we are not enforcing our laws, and it’s time for that to change. As your Congressman, I support laws to stiffen penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.” [Nick Lampson for Congress, accessed 5/15/08] “I do not believe we can pass an amnesty for people who break our immigration laws. Congress and President Reagan tried this in 1986, and two decades later, the number of illegal immigrants in this country is estimated between 11 and 12 million. The bottom line is: Congress tried an amnesty before, and it did not work. Amnesty sent the wrong message and encouraged further lawlessness.” [Nick Lampson for Congress, accessed 5/15/08]
The Olson Position:
ENFORCEMENT ONLY. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Olson’s main message in the primary was that he would help cut government spending, eliminate illegal immigration, improve national security and help win the war in Iraq.” [The Houston Chronicle, 4/10/08] On his campaign website, Republican candidate and former Navy officer Pete Olson says that he supports: “an increased commitment to FULLY enforce our laws – no excuses, no delays, and no second chances for those who break our laws. Amnesty is not an option…. Unlike our current Congressman, I won’t support new benefits for illegal immigrants – that only entices more people to come to our country illegally. It’s wrong, it makes no sense, and it is a policy that Texans reject… I will work to help our local law enforcement get the funding and training necessary to help in our national fight against criminal illegal immigrants.” [Pete Olson for Congress, accessed 5/15/08]