There might be an unexpected case of laryngitis waiting in the wings. The race to fill Tom DeLay's vacant seat has become a statistical dead heat despite all the Democratic efforts to keep DeLay's name on the ballot. By doing so, they expected the write-in effort of the Republican candidate to be an uphill battle. They may have figured wrong.
The Republican write-in effort to hold former Rep. Tom DeLay's congressional seat, once viewed as a long shot, has created a tight race, according to a Houston Chronicle-11 News poll.
Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would vote for a write-in candidate, a statistical tie with the 36 percent support for Democrat Nick Lampson, according to the poll of more than 500 likely voters in the 22nd Congressional District.
Most who say they will write in a candidate plan on naming Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, the Houston city councilwoman backed by the Republican Party. Two lesser-known candidates also are running as write-ins.
One voter in four is still undecided.
Libertarian Bob Smither, the only person besides Lampson on the general election ballot, drew 4 percent support.
The third option on that ballot is "write-in." Voters who make that selection on the electronic voting machines that most will use are directed to an alphabet screen, where they use a wheel to spell out their choice's name a letter at a time.
I expect that there is a full-fledged effort at making sure people know how to spell 'Sekula-Gibbs' properly so there won't be too many spoiled ballots. Sometimes the attempts to fool with elections via lawyers and legal strategies actually backfire, I think. In this case, the effort to keep Sekula-Gibbs' name off the ballot may have given her additional name recognition and a significant sympathy vote.