PEARLAND, Texas Mark Truskey, a self-described conservative, likes Rep. Nick Lampson (D). Truskey thinks the Congressman is a moderate who is focused on the right agenda and he likes what the Democrat has to say on several issues.
But Truskey is still not going to vote for Lampson in November. Despite exhibiting some personal affection for the Congressman, Truskey plans to vote for ex-
Senate aide Pete Olson, the Republican nominee in the solidly conservative, suburban Houston 22nd district even though he admits to knowing very little about Olson at this point.
I appreciate what Congressman Lampson has done, because he is a moderate, Truskey said Thursday, after listening to Lampson speak and answer questions during a Congress on Your Corner constituent-services event.
Last Thursday evening, while many residents of hot and humid southeast Texas were heading to the Gulf Coast for the long July Fourth weekend, Lampson was heading to work. The Congressman journeyed to the Shadow Creek Ranch Visitors Center in a new mixed-use development here for some give-and-take with his constituents.
Lampson encountered many supporters. But there were also plenty of skeptics.
Truskey, a 54-year-old Pearland resident who recently retired after 31 years with Kraft Foods, is most concerned about illegal immigration.
Right now, if I look at Lampson, and I look at what little I know about Olson, I think they have a lot of similarities to them, he said. And all things being equal on the key issues, I would stick to the Republican Party.
Therein lies Lampsons challenge in his first run for re-election in the 22nd district (he previously served four terms in the old, heavily Democratic 9th district). The Congressman must find enough Truskeys in the district once represented by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) who will support a Democrat, even though in Olson they have a viable alternative whose name will be on the ballot. In 2006, Lampson ran against a GOP write-in candidate who did not enter the race until late summer, winning that contest 52 percent to 42 percent.
Lampson appears to recognize the challenge that comes with being the most targeted House Democrat of this cycle. He noted that hes held 400 Congress on Your Corner events since being elected in 2006, and he conceded in an interview following Thursdays meeting that his ticket to re-election is to emphasize constituent services over politics.
Its about keeping my promises. I promised that I would be an independent voice, Lampson said. Ive done those things. I have to rely that it has not fallen on deaf ears, that its actually been seen and respected by the people that said thats what they wanted me to be doing.
In fact, some of Lampsons supporters feel he has veered too far to the right in his effort to appeal to voters in his Republican-leaning district, among them grocery store employee Penny Ashton, 59, a Democratic voter who turned out to see Lampson in Pearland last week.
He is making an effort to be a center-aisle working with both sides. In fact, sometimes I think he votes too Republican, Ashton said.
But Republicans vehemently disagree with Lampsons claim of political independence. They charge that the Congressman has cleverly disguised his positions on key issues to give the appearance of moderation, while proving a reliable vote for the House Democratic leadership whenever theyve called.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.