TEXAS 9: Rep. Steve Stockman (R) vs. two challengers Southeast Texas -- Beaumont; GalvestonTIME Election Guide: Texas
Republican Rep. Steve Stockman has generally been viewed as among the most vulnerable incumbents in the country. His 1994 victory over veteran 9th District Democratic Rep. Jack Brooks was seen as something of a fluke, due in large part to anger among gun owners over the incumbent's vote for crime legislation that included a ban on certain assault weapons.
Yet as he was looking increasingly vulnerable to a challenge from Democrat Nick Lampson, the former Jefferson County tax assessor, Stockman got something of a break. His district was among the 13 redrawn by the three-judge panel, and two more Democratic opponents jumped into the race when filing was reopened: a man who filed as G.A. "Jack" Brooks and teacher Geraldine Sam, who had lost to Lampson in the March Democratic primary.
But Brooks -- who was viewed as a threat to Lampson because of potential name confusion with the former Democratic incumbent -- ended up dropping out of the race after a judge ruled that Brooks would not be listed as "Jack" on the ballot.
Even with all this backwash, Stockman remains at risk in this election. He has had a rather rocky freshman term. Questions arose over whether Stockman had connections to right-wing militia groups. A cryptic, and ultimately meaningless, note was faxed to Stockman's office on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995 by a woman linked to the Michigan Militia; Stockman denied any links with that group.
Lampson has attacked the incumbent on everything from his support for "cuts" in education funding to tax initiatives that Lampson says would help the richest Americans. Stockman also is being broadsided by the AFL-CIO, which is running ads critical of the incumbent's record on Medicare, and the League of Conservation Voters, which claims the Republican has an abysmal record on environmental protection.
The National Republican Congressional Committee filed a suit with the Federal Election Commission accusing Lampson of coordinating his paid media campaign with the AFL-CIO, a charge Lampson's campaign denies and labels as an attempt to distract the voters' attention.
The 9th has long been considered as a Democratic-leaning district and has a strong union presence compared with other districts in Texas. But it does have a substantial conservative constituency. And some observers say despite the controversy that has swirled around him, Stockman does have a solid base of support, particularly among gun activists. It also is unclear how much, if any, support Sam will take away from Lampson. No clear favorite.