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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

New Cook Political Report Heavy on Skelly, Lampson

The May 1 Cook Political Report classifies the 7th Congressional District, currently represented by Republican John Culberson, as 'solidly Republican.' Most of the other districts relegated to 'solid [party]' status get a single paragraph, but the report spends 7 paragraphs talking about Democratic challenger Michael Skelly and his chances for mobility.

It is not surprising, then, that some Democrats have taken note of Culberson’s weaknesses and have touted this race as a top “sleeper” pick of the 2008 cycle. Noteworthy, however, is the fact that the Democratic candidate this year, wind energy businessman Michael Skelly, has raised a massive $853,000 so far this cycle without contributing any of his own money to the race, while Culberson showed only $270,000 in the bank at the end of March. In 2006, Culberson was able to spend $734,000 to his Democratic opponent’s $122,000. This time around, Culberson is likely to be outspent, and will have to rely on the district’s fundamental political leanings to get him through.

Skelly, 46, emigrated from Ireland with his family at age two and attended Notre Dame University. After serving in the Peace Corps and earning his MBA from Harvard Business School, Skelly moved to Houston in 1999 to become chief development officer for Horizon Wind Energy, which became the nation’s third-largest wind energy company before it was acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2005. Not surprisingly, Skelly has pledged to make energy independence a centerpiece of his campaign.

The report also classifies Nick Lampson's district as a 'toss-up' and acknowledges Lampson's campaign skills and his significant cash in the bank. Lampson is hanging in there and has shaped the last two years around preparing for the next six months.

Lampson is highly cognizant of the target on his back and has been readying for a fight before and after heart surgery last year. One of the best campaigners among Democratic incumbents who are facing serious challenges, Lampson showed $1 million in the bank at the end of March. Republicans have attacked him for not supporting NASA's operations in the district sufficiently. National Democrats and Lampson plan to take a page out of Sekula Gibbs's book by attacking Olson for living in Washington, DC for so long and characterizing his ties to the district as weak. They also plan to make the case that Olson embellished his position as a policy adviser in the Pentagon while in the Navy.

So, on the balance, not bad news from one of the best race analysis houses in the country.

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