"The precinct chairs have voted and with an overwhelming majority selected Shelley Sekula-Gibbs"
State GOP Chair Tina Benkiser described the gathering as a family meeting. Former Congressman Tom DeLay attended and apologized to the precinct chairs gathered. Benkiser says DeLay received several standing ovations. Republicans gathered to try to rally support behind one write-in candidate. The GOP lost a legal battle to try to replace DeLay's name on the ballot after he resigned from Congress. Benkiser says Sekula-Gibbs will have the backing of the party.
"Hopefully now we will have some clarity as to who our one candidate will be and certainly if we have one Republican candidate on the ballot we'll get behind, we'll start making the calls, walking the precincts, licking the envelopes and running a hard grassroots campaign."
Benkiser says about 85 of the district's roughly 150 chairmen attended. Houston City Coucilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs says last night's meeting gave the 22nd District Republican Party to heal.
"This has been a long campaign already and there have been many phases to it. This is one of the most important days that we've had. I'm honored to have received this support from, you can't exactly call it a nomination, but it's a show of tremendous support from four counties."
But the Fort Bend County chair was absent. Also not attending was Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace who has already filed as a write-in candidate. About a dozen of Wallace supporters stood outside the meeting with signs reading Wallace for Congress. Donor and supporter Meredith Iler feels last night's meeting does not settle the issue of who has Republican backing in the 22nd District.
"It's now an issue of who has the organization, the money, the resources and can get the team together. And I think the Republicans will do that based on where they volunteer their time, where they give their money and very shortly a front-runner will emerge."
Richard Hudgins chairs a precinct in Fort Bend County. He questions what was done at the meeting.
"There was no semblance of an official meeting. The vote was not announced, the winner was announced as a majority. So I don't know how many votes to total up."
The Republican party is expected to launch a voter education campaign explaining how to write-in a candidate's name on electronic voting machines. The names that will appear on the ballot are Democratic nominee Nick Lampson and Libertarian nominee Bob Smither. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.