January 11, 2006

The AP profiles Tom Campbell, expected to be DeLay's most serious primary challenger:

While two of DeLay's challengers aren't considered to have much credibility — one is making his fourth attempt to unseat DeLay and the other has lived overseas much of her adult life — lawyer Tom Campbell of Sugar Land holds an impressive Republican resume.

Campbell worked on the presidential campaigns of Bob Dole and the elder George Bush, whose administration appointed him general counsel to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A former Harris County Republican Party official runs Campbell's campaign.


Campbell, 50, said after "having a hard time voting for Tom DeLay" in the 2004 election, he looked for someone to challenge DeLay in 2006, but found no GOP career politician willing to take him on. So Campbell, who's never held a political office, decided to run himself, figuring it was an act of Republican loyalty to challenge the party's troubled standard-bearer.

"If we don't clean house in March, we'll lose the House in November," said Campbell, an environmental lawyer who drives a hybrid gas-electric car, not the standard wheels for Texas GOP candidates. "Sugar Land, Texas, is the epicenter of the national debate on how we conduct politics."


"Tom Campbell at least has Republican credentials," Fort Bend County GOP chairman Eric Thode said. "Having said that, it doesn't translate into one iota of support or money. He is 100 percent absolutely unknown in this county."

Campbell, a 12-year Sugar Land resident who has put his own money into the race, has less than $100,000 so far after announcing his candidacy in December, said campaign manager Mike Stanley, former general counsel to the Harris County GOP. DeLay had raised more than $1 million by the last reporting deadline in September.

DeLay also faces lawyer Mike Fjetland and retired teacher Pat Baig. The primary winner will face former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, a Beaumont Democrat who represented a district next to DeLay's for eight years until DeLay's redistricting plan put him in a new, less Democratic district. Lampson lost in 2004 to longtime Houston judge Ted Poe, a Republican.

While DeLay's campaign spokeswoman, Shannon Flaherty, has dismissed Fjetland and Baig with disparaging quips, she said DeLay welcomes Campbell to the race and to hearing his ideas.

"But he's going to have a tough time with local GOP support," Flaherty said. "He's got more than 30 years of catching up to do."
If there's a candidate who appears to possibly be able to raise the money necessary for the race, it's Campbell.

As I've said before, I think the indicator of whether DeLay is in trouble will be endorsements. However, Campbell, Fjetland, and Baig would need to raise enough money to capitalize if that were to happen.

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