Governor Perry has called special elections to fill the unexpired terms of Tom DeLay in Congress, Frank Madla in the state Senate, and Vilma Luna in the Texas House of Represenatives, all of whom have resigned from the bodies to which they were elected. The special elections will be held concurrently with the general election on November 7. The only one of these three elections that could affect the future course of Texas politics is the DeLay race. Right now, Democrat Nick Lampson faces only a write-in challenge from Houston city council member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who was chosen to be the Republican standard-bearer in a meeting of GOP precinct chairs. (A Libertarian is also on the ballot.) There is some discontent in Republican ranks about the insiders’ getting together to annoint a candidate who presumably would have the inside track for the Republican nomination to oppose Lampson in ’08. The special election gives some of the other hopefuls–Sugar Land mayor David Wallace and state legislators Robert Talton of Pasadena and Charles Howard of Sugar Land–a chance to make an end run around the party bosses and make the case for their own electability. Sekula-Gibbs has to decide whether to enter the race and risk getting beat. So does Lampson: If he runs in the special and loses while presumably winning the general election, he would look mighty vulnerable in 2008. The big winner of a competitive special election might be Perry himself, because the efforts of the special election contenders to get their voters to the polls will increase the Republican base turnout. And about the only thing Perry has to fear in this election is a light turnout of his core supporters.
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