Enough Time? Sekula-Gibbs Faces Clock-Crunch in Congress

Despite her general election loss to Democrat Nick Lampson, Shelley Sekula Gibbs is the one preparing to move into an office in Washington D.C. to finish Tom DeLay's unexpired term in Congress. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, her win in the special election means the current Houston city councilwoman will get a short audition on Capitol Hill as she eyes another run in 2008.

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Sekula-Gibbs will have less than two months in Washington before her term expires, barely enough time, some experts say, to do much at all except get acquainted with colleagues who could help her chances if she runs again in two years. Gibbs' strong showing as an underdog, write-in candidate could earn her some respect from fellow Republicans, despite her short stay. This is University of Houston political science assistant professor Timothy Nokken.

"She basically set herself up at a big disadvantage running as a write-in candidate and I think the Republicans have to give her due respect because that was a long row for her to hoe and she put herself out there. You have to think also that this is an audition for 2008 as well, so while it's only a month and a half, I think her colleagues will respect her for taking on the challenge and this could be her opportunity to set-up connections, fill the Rolodex and come back in two years."

Sekula-Gibbs won't be the only lame-duck in Washington for the next two months. Nokken says many of the ousted incumbents will be wrapping-up unfinished business, but he doesn't expect them to have much of an impact on major issues.

"Normally, and I think this session will be similar, it's kind of a finish-up some business type of agenda. They have, I think, nine appropriations bills they have to finish work on or agencies aren't funded, so I doubt that will leave a lot of time for substantive legislation, like immigration and the like."

Congress goes back into session on Monday, but will work only sparingly through the end of the year. Houston Democratic Representative Gene Green says it will be difficult for Sekula-Gibbs to get much done in a limited amount of time. He says learning the ropes in Congress is a long process.

Sekula-Gibbs has said she'll resign her city council position as soon as the Governor's office certifies the District 22 vote count. A special election to fill her seat is set for May 12th, with an April 11th filing deadline for candidates. Once she resigns, her council seat will remain unfilled until the election.

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