Texans Tap Olson for Seat Once Held by DeLay

Posted April 8, 2008 at 9:35pm

Former Senate aide Pete Olson appeared headed to a lopsided victory Tuesday night over ex-Rep. Shelley Sekula Gibbs in Texas’ 22nd district GOP runoff. Olson will now be a national GOP hope in Republicans’ quest to steal back the House majority and the seat once held by former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). With over 49 percent of precincts reporting, Olson was beating Sekula Gibbs, 68 percent to 32 percent. Olson’s victory was built on a strong performance in early voting and winning margins in the the 22nd district’s three largest counties: Fort Bend, Harris and Brazoria. Olson’s campaign was heavily backed by House GOP leaders and most of the Texas House Republican delegation, as well as his former employers, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and ex-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas). The winner of Tuesday’s contest will face Rep. Nick Lampson (D) in November. The suburban Houston 22nd district is solid Republican territory, and GOP insiders believe an Olson victory in Tuesday’s contest should seal Lampson’s fate in the general election. Republican officials, both in Texas and on Capitol Hill, viewed Sekula Gibbs as a flawed candidate whose chances against Lampson were less certain — despite the conservative bent of the district. That is why Olson accrued the majority of the GOP’s institutional support. Sekula Gibbs is a former Houston councilwoman who served in Congress for three weeks toward the end of 2006 after winning a special election to fill the remainder of DeLay’s term. DeLay resigned from the 22nd district in June of that year. Olson was working as Cornyn’s chief of staff until last summer, when he moved back to the district, where he grew up, to run for Congress.