Not surprising, except for the size of the margin. Pete Olson used to work for Cornyn, and the Cornyn people told me last week he had it won. As one Democratic operative reminded me yesterday, this is a district in which Shelley Sekula-Gibbs got 30,000 write-in votes in 2006. Also, look at those turnout numbers in Fort Bend. Huge.
Michael Skelly is a great candidate, and John Culberson is useless, but he has a large and loyal grassroots following. I thought that the best chance for the D’s was that the Houston business leadership would recognize that Olson and Culberson were conservative ideologues who would not be effective in bringing home the bacon for Houston, the way Tom DeLay did. Olson is a quality person and has a good future, but he will be relegated to the minority for years. Culberson has said that NASA, which provides 20,000 jobs in the Houston area, is a waste of money. Nick Lampson would have been chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the space agency. This represents potentially a significant loss to the Houston economy. These considerations mean little to voters, however, compared to party and ideology. In any case, when you’re down seventeen points, it takes more than the Greater Houston Partnership to save you.