Pete Olson, a former chief of staff to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), is one step closer to serving in Congress himself.
He handily defeated former Rep. Shelley Sekula Gibbs in a runoff to win the Republican nomination, and will be facing Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) in what should be one of the GOP’s top pickup opportunities in November.
With 89 percent of precincts reporting, Olson leads Sekula Gibbs 69 percent to 31 percent. Sekula Gibbs had narrowly led Olson in the first round of balloting last month, 28 to 24 percent, but failed to expand her base of support.
Nearly the entire Texas Republican delegation and House Minority Leader John Boehner endorsed Olson for the runoff, believing Sekula Gibbs to be a flawed candidate who rubbed Republicans the wrong way after her short stint as a Congresswoman to serve the remainder of Tom DeLay’s term.
Because of the circumstances surrounding DeLay’s resignation, Republicans didn’t even field a candidate on the ballot last election cycle, allowing Lampson to defeat Sekula Gibbs, who ran as a write-in.
The suburban Houston district once held by DeLay is one of the most heavily Republican seats held by a Democrat in the country, giving President Bush 64 percent of the vote in 2004.
"Nick Lampson better find himself a flashlight because his reelection chances are quickly growing dim,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain. “Pete Olson has proven himself to be one of the top Republican challengers in the country and we believe he has exactly what it takes to win in November."