Thursday, May 03, 2007

Elect Noriega: The Knockout Punch to Tom Delay

Cross posted at Burnt Orange Report

The May 12th special election to fill the Houston City Council seat vacated by Shelley Sekula-Gibbs has received very little press coverage, and everyone agrees that Election Day promises low voter turnout. Coming off all the exciting victories of 2006, this race seems to be flying under the radar, but electing Melissa Noriega should be important to progressive voters everywhere. It’s certainly important to Houston’s GLBT community, as we have the opportunity to replace an adversary on council with a friend, but, beyond that, it seems to me that electing Noriega would deliver one more knockout punch to the regressive, corrupt politics of Tom Delay.

As Election Day approaches, I get more and more excited about Melissa Noriega. Earlier this spring, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus enthusiastically endorsed Melissa, because she articulated a sincere commitment to GLBT equality and demonstrated incredibly strong viability. It was clear then that Melissa was certainly going to make a very strong run, and today, our early impressions of Noriega are being fulfilled in impressive ways. Just check out her F.E.C. filings. The Noriega campaign is doing a great job, out raising all other the other candidates by a large margin. If she wins, all Houstonians can count on her to be a principled, reasonable, and effective leader, but I think her victory has a broader, historic significance. The whole sordid tale of corruption, indictments, resignations, law suits, write-ins, and “Gibbs Gaffes” ends with the election of Melissa Noriega.

Let’s review the squalid saga that led up to this election:

§ January 3, 2006: Jack Abramoff, long time associate of Tom Delay, pleads guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy charges.

§ March 7, 2006: Tom Delay wins a contested district 22 primary election by the smallest margin of his career.

§ March 31, 2006: Tony Rudy, Tom Delay’s former deputy chief of staff, pleads guilty to corruption charges connected to the Abramoff scandal.

§ April 3rd, 2006: Tom Delay announces that he will, in fact, not seek reelection, in the wake of Rudy’s guilty plea. Delay also announces that he will resign from the United States House of Representatives effective June 9, 2006

§ August 3, 2006: a three member panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the decision of a district judge stating that Delay’s name must stay on the November ballot. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejected a request for the Supreme Court to hear the case before the November election, effectively ending Delay’s hopes of removing his name from the ballot.

§ August 17, 2006: Houston City Council Member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs becomes the officially endorsed Republican write-in candidate to face Democrat Nick Lampson in the race for House District 22.

§ November 7th, 2006: Nick Lampson wins the election to represent district 22. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs wins a special election to serve the remainder of Tom Delay’s term, forcing her to resign her Houston City Council seat.

§ November 15, 2007: Just eight days after winning election, after rumors of intense contention, seven Gibbs’ staff members resigned in mass walkout. One staffer conceded that after working with Gibbs for just over a week she “was not a boss we wanted to work for.”

§ January 31, 2007: With a strong contingent of progressive leaders standing behind her, Melissa Noriega kicks off her campaign to replace Gibbs on Houston City Council.

Even though this race has received very little attention, electing Melissa Noriega is so important. Her victory will send a strong message, rejecting the corrupt politics of Tom Delay.

Her victory is not assured, though. Send her some money. Volunteer with the GLBT Caucus. We’re block-walking, rallying, and phone banking all the way to election day. Let’s knock them out.

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