Lampson has represented an area that stretches from Harris County to Beaumont for eight years. He initially lost the seat after DeLay helped change the boundaries in the district. But Lampson won the seat in a special election after DeLay resigned in the middle of his term. Olson, a former senate aide and Navy pilot, began his quest to unseat to unseat the incumbent Lampson, an ex-school teacher, 16-months ago. The two finally met…and sparred in their only encounter before voters decide November fourth. It happened in the heart of the district…near the Johnson Space Center.
Staring from the left to right: Democrat Nick Lampson and Republican Pete Olson
The first topic they addressed was funding for NASA.
Lampson: “I lead the fight in Congress to put the 300-million dollars into last year’s budget, and the 2.2 billion dollars above the president’s veto threat this year.
Moderator: “Mr. Olson.”
Olson: “The congressman says he supported NASA. However in 2007, he voted to cut over 500 million dollars from NASA’s budget. And that hurt NASA.”
Lampson: “Pete you’ve been distorting my record ever since you moved to Texas a year ago. I have done everything that I can in my effort to make sure that we won support for a significant amount of commitment to NASA.”
Olson: “One of the congressman’s statements that he got 300-million for NASA, that’s simply not true. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison did the heavy lifting for that and Lampson is taking credit for it like a typical Washington, DC politician.”
Moderator: “Congressman Lampson.”
Lampson: “Well, first of all let me say that Kay Bailey Hutchison serves in the Senate, not in the house, and I was one of the leaders that made it happen in the House of Representatives.”
The challenger kept hammering the incumbent at what he called broken promises and failed leadership. I caught up with Olson and Lampson after the debate. Lampson says his record speaks for itself.
“I think that if the public will pay attention to perhaps some of the kind of legislation he may have pulled from, or literally years and years old kinds of statements that were made, look at what we’re doing right now.”
Olson: “Nick Lampson is a great guy, but unfortunately, he comes back to the district and tells us one thing. He tells us he’s a conservative and then he goes up to Washington and votes like a liberal.”
Hernandez: “Some people are thinking with President Bush at the lowest rating ever that that may hurt Republican candidates.”
Olson: “I don’t know about nationwide, but this district is still a solid Republican conservative district and, if our people turn out on November fourth, which we expect them to do, I think we’re going to be liking the way things end up in the end of the night.”
Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.