Lampson was a Democratic congressman from a neighboring Houston-area district until recently, when the DeLay led re-redistricting effort a couple years ago caused him to lose his re-election campaign in 2004. The district he represented included the Clear Lake and Johnson Space Center area, where I have lived briefly in the past, so I have occasionally followed his career since he was first elected to Congress in 1996, taking out a one-term Republican extremist who had been elected with the Gingrichites in 1994.
It turns out that DeLay's redrawn district includes a sizeable portion of Lampson's old district (including Clear Lake and JSC, I believe), so now Lampson will move a short distance down the road and take on his nemesis, whose years of corruption may finally be catching up to him.
Kuffner has written extensively about this district, CD 22. For those who haven't followed it as closely and want to fully understand the interview, Quan is Gordon Quan, who is a Houston city council member also thinking about running for the Democratic nomination in CD 22. Morrison is Richard Morrison, the Democrat who ran against Tom DeLay last time around. Despite lack of much institutional support, he came within around 10 percentage points of beating the Bug Man. (Prior to the election, I posted about that race a few times.) DeLay was actually forced to spend a significant amount of money and time campaigning. Morrison initially considered taking another shot at DeLay in 2006, but personal reasons have compelled him to drop out.
DeLay was in ethical hot water at the time of the last election, of course, but the public profile of his problems has intensified greatly in the last six months. With Morrison's strong performance last November in a less favorable environment, Dems are optimistic about their chances in this district in 2006.
A sample of Kuffner's interview with Lampson:
Could you please elaborate on the Quan/Morrison meeting and the DCCC involvement in the race?
I had an excellent meeting with Richard and Gordon, both of whom are fine men. Nothing was conclusively resolved that day, but as you know Richard decided not to make the race. I believe Gordon is still weighing his options, though I've not talked to him recently. I do believe I'm the strongest candidate to make this race.
Obviously, the DCCC is very interested in this race. It's hard to tell at this early date what the extent of their involvement will be, but I do expect them to be involved.
Obviously, Tom DeLay and his ethical woes have been very much in the news lately. How will that affect your strategy and your message in this race? How do you plan to convince suburban/exurban conservative voters that you are not just another Democrat?
My answer here might surprise you. I actually don't plan to make Tom Delay the focus of this race. Let's face it, his name is in the paper an awful lot these days - folks can make up their own minds there. My plan is to concentrate on introducing myself - my common sense values, my history of consensus-building - to the people of District 22. I've gotten a lot of independent and crossover Republican support in the past, and I believe I can do it again. I think people are tired of controversy and bitter partisanship. I think they feel left out of the discussion when they hear about all this stuff going on in Washington. They're going about their daily lives - working hard, raising their kids - and I believe they want their representatives in government who roll up their sleeves and go to work for them every day, just like they do. I've done that in all my previous public service, and will do it again for District 22.
UPDATE: Kimberly at A Little Polyanna doesn't like Lampson's rhetoric in this interview, where he suggests that he would prefer to focus the campaign on his own qualifications rather than on the corruption of Tom DeLay. She thinks it shows he may not have the stomach for this fight. I disagree. I think it is standard politics. The candidate him- or herself is not the proper vehicle for negative politics. Especially since the public is already aware of the issues with DeLay, as appears to be the case now.
Remember that this is still a Republican-dominated district, so Lampson needs to sell himself to a sizeable number of Republicans as an acceptable alternative. If Lampson concentrated on attacking the Republican candidate, he would risk switching on these voters' instinctive partisan reflex to defend their own.
UPDATE: This post has been plagued by typos, even in the title. I hope I've fixed them all by now.
UPDATE #3: Carpetbagger Report has an informative post up about this congressional district today. Apparently it is rapidly becoming a so-called "majority-minority" district, with very significant black, Latino, and Asian populations.