Lampson Prepares to Take Over 22nd District Seat

Congressman-Elect Nick Lampson has spent time Washington preparing to take the over 22nd District's seat in the US House. Instead of attending seminars with the rest of his freshmen colleagues, Lampson spent time catching up with his former colleagues. From Capitol Hill, Terry Gildea reports.

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On a gray Washington morning, the freshmen members-elect of the 110th Congress exited coach buses and assembled on the steps of the US Capitol for a class photo. For Houston Democrat Nick Lampson it's the second time he'll be called a freshman.

Congressman - is this sort of d?j? vu for you - you've been here before - this is your second freshman photo. What's going through your mind as you stand up there with your freshman class?

Just glad I think to be able to be a part of this - I think it's a historic class - there's going to opportunity to do things differently I believe there will be a real effort to create civility.

Lampson was first elected to Congress in 1996 and represented the ninth district for eight years. But former House Majority Leader Tom Delay lead a controversial effort to redistrict Texas and get more Republicans elected to Congress. As a result Lampson lost reelection to Harris County Judge Ted Poe in 2004. Now Lampson will return to Washington, occupying the seat that his former nemesis forfeited in June. Lampson says political revenge is not on his agenda.

I'll reach out to my Republican colleagues - John Culberson - Ted Poe the guy who beat me two years ago. Those are people that I expect to work with in making sure that we put the interests of Houston and the Houston area ahead of our partisanship.

While other freshman lawmakers sat in seminars and got lost in the Capitol Complex, Lampson spent time getting reacquainted with his Democratic colleagues and lobbying for seniority in the new House Majority.

But Lampson is eyeing one of the open seats on the powerful Appropriations Committee and hopes to join Chet Edwards, the only Texas democrat currently holding a seat.

I want to hold it for the right reasons and that means fighting for a place where I can have access to the resources that will make a difference for us - that will make sure that we attend to the needs for NASA - attend to the needs of the medical centers and what we can do as far as helping people gain access to health care.

Near the end of the week, Lampson cast a ballot in his first majority leadership election. He wouldn't say if he voted for Maryland's Steny Hoyer or Pennsylvania's John Murtha, but he was pleased Hoyer was elected.

I think our caucus came out a winner, because we had a fight and we saw that we could come back and hug at the end and say we've got work to do now for the people of the United States of America - let's go together to do it and they did - I believe we will.

Lampson will begin his fifth term when the 110th Congress convenes in January. For Houston Public Radio, I'm Terry Gildea on Capitol Hill.

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