There are 15 Republicans and four Democrats who each want to be their party’s candidate to run for office in November’s general election to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, a Republican who is not seeking reelection in Texas’ 22nd Congressional District.
Who filed first for the March 3 primaries? It was Republican candidate Greg Hill from Pearland, and the last one to file was also a Republican, Pierce Bush. He is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush.
Does filing time matter? No. What about where and how long the candidates have resided in the community? More on that in a bit. Some say this race is about electability. Does that mean a political candidate will do well because of some kind of magical juju or maybe because their campaign is non-partisan or refrains from bashing opponents? There’s another account that suggests “electability” is a code word for discrimination against women and people of color. One thing is certain: Bipartisan polarization is alive and well in Fort Bend County.
The Democratic Party has some candidates seeking to hold political office for the first time. One of the notable candidates on the primary ballot is former diplomat Sri Preston Kulkarni, who ran against Olson in 2018 and might have expected a rematch after losing to Olson by only 5 percentage points. The other Democratic candidates on the primary ballot are Nyanza Moore, Carmine Petricco III and Derrick Reed.
Something to take note of is that District 22 has become very ethnically diverse, which is what some scholars say could be a factor in voting outcomes that are more favorable to Democratic candidates.
But we’re not close to the November election. The primary election, with early voting starting Feb. 18, is what is in focus now.
Although District 22 has historically been more of a Republican stronghold – before and after Democrat Nick Lampson served one term in 2006 – depending on the voter turnout, each political party’s choice is up for grabs. That rings especially true among the 15 Republican contenders.
Along with Pierce Bush and Hill, the Republicans on the primary ballot are Jon Camarillo, Douglas Haggard, Aaron Hermes, Matt Hinton, Dan Mathews, Diana Miller, Troy Nehls, Brandon Penko, Shandon Phan, Bangar Reddy, Howard Lynn Steele Jr., Kathaleen Wall and Joe Walz.
Some predictions lean toward Bush, Hill and Wall as the top vote-getters. Wall was a former candidate in District 2 and in 2018 lost against Dan Crenshaw in neighboring Houston. Locally, she’s made quite an impression with her generous support to community nonprofit efforts, most recently to the Boots and Badges fundraiser held this past weekend at Safari Texas.
Other talking circles focus on Nehls, the Fort Bend County Sheriff who is considered the candidate to watch closely. Nehls is practically home grown. He calls himself the only Fort Bend County officeholder among the candidates and many of us have associated with him for some 30 years, maybe more. We know Troy, Hill lives just down the road, so to speak, and attends and supports many of our local events. And Wall and her husband, we’ve found out, are part of the business community in Sugar Land.
So, when Bush arrived on the scene for the first time this December, there was skepticism. But he’s been here before. As CEO the last seven-plus years for Big Brothers and Big Sisters Lone Star, the largest affiliate in the country, his huge area encompasses all of District 22. Bush said he has the unique distinction of having served and been active in all of District 22. He lives here now and embraces the amazing diversity of the area in appreciation of how the country will look in 20 years.
So, should it matter how long a person has resided in the community to be represented to adequately advocate on its behalf? Some may think so.
But in the end, what really matters is that those running for political office want to make changes for the betterment of their community. And that’s admirable. We need to keep in mind that our vote would be most impactful for the one who has the skills to do it. District 22 is large with close to 1 million in population, and it’s about 93 percent urban and 7 percent rural. Most of the district is in Fort Bend County, some is in Brazoria County (Alvin and Pearland), and a small portion is in Harris County (Friendswood).
Exercise your right to vote. Early voting for the March 3 primary runs from Feb. 18- 28. Let’s take the aspiring District 22 leaders to the next level – the general election in November.