Republicans are having a tough time mounting respectable challenges to Democratic incumbents in this year's congressional campaigns. They're even having trouble challenging green first-termers in conservative-leaning districts.
An example is the Houston-area district represented by Democratic Congressman Nick Lampson, who won a seat that for two decades had been the domain of former Republican leader Tom DeLay.
DeLay's resignation under a cloud of scandal cleared the way for Lampson's return to Congress in 2006. Lampson formerly had represented another district in Texas until DeLay's redistricting plan for the state after the 2000 census basically gerrymandered him out of office.
But Lampson's new district is overwhelmingly Republican, and he has a formidable challenger in Pete Olson. Olson is a Navy veteran and a protege of popular Senator John Cornyn and former Senator Phil Gramm, both Texas Republicans. The Lampson-Olson race is considered 1 of the most competitive in the country.
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