GOP’s TX-22 Write-in Spells L-O-S-E-R

This week GOP officials in Texas passed over Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace as their write-in of choice, and completely rebuffed Libertarian candidate Bob “I’d caucus with Republicans” Smither in favor of arguably the worst possible write-in name — Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. Yeah folks, that’s two last names… and as Samuel L Jackson would proclaim were he to go to the ballot and try and write it in: “Get these dashes off my motherfucking ballot.” Well, actually he wouldn’t have to proclaim that at all, because it seems the click-wheel voting machine doesn’t have any.

Here’s what Harris County GOP chair Kathy Haigler told me about their decision:

I think it’s safe to say that Republican leadership is promoting the Republican who was the preference of the grassroots Republican leadership, who voted in the Republican Primary, and attended the Republican Precinct, Senatorial, and State Conventions OVER someone who identifies himself with another Party.

Just because a third Party candidate considers himself more of a Republican than a Democrat and will therefore caucus with the Republicans, that does not mean he would represent my views or vote like a Republican.

Can’t do it in good conscience.

Well, go figure that Republicans would rather get their asses handed to them in a quixotic write-in campaign than to actually endorse Libertarian Bob Smither. Once again we can pull back our outreached hands trying to form some unity.. because we’ve been B-U-R-N-E-D A-G-A-I-N.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. The one thing that constantly gets me about this situation with Smither is that he’s not a Republican.

    Libertarians have been acting as if, just by virtue of being on the ballot, Bob Smither is owed GOP support. But if you turned this all around and had the GOP demanding libertarian support for a kinda-sorta libertarian Republican, most of you would spit in their faces because he wasn’t a “real” Libertarian.

    Well, in this case, Bob Smither isn’t a “real” Republican… and the party members have chosen to support a hopeless campaign by an active and loyal member of their own party rather than endorse another party’s candidate just because he might have some slim chance of victory. This is the same thing that happens CONSTANTLY when Libertarians run for office with no real chance of victory.

    Having said that, I think they probably should have backed Smither… but I can also (somewhat) understand why they chose not to. The real race for this seat is going to be in 2008.

  2. I agree with Austin. I wish the Republicans would have supported Smither, but he’s not a Republican!

  3. VD: “… click-wheel voting machine doesn’t have any.”

    Remember the chad wars? Even better: video click wars.
    Turns out that it’s up to the GOP Country Clerks to decide what qualifies. Under state law, “voter intent” can be considered obvious … even if a voter only clicks “X” in the write-in box (assuming there is only one write-in).
    If the Democrats were smart, they’d file 22 other write-in candidates … just to confuse the GOP counters.

  4. Austin, as far as the hardcore GOP loyalists go, I completely understand their reluctance to support a non-Republican. However, I believe that many of the typical Republican voters are voting the way they do not so much out of party loyalty, but because they believe the candidate represents their values. Assuming those values generally include less government intrusion in their lives, then Smither is the ONLY logical choice for them and it’s our job to show them why. Sekula-Gibbs is a BIG GOV’T Republican who wants Houston to jump on the ban-smoking-everywhere bandwagon and has demonstrated little faith in free markets as a solution to societal problems.

    If we are aggressive in getting our message out, I believe Smither has an outside chance in winning this thing.

  5. Totally unsurprising. I’m interested in the statement “Republican leadership is promoting the Republican who was the preference of the grassroots Republican leadership”. Sounds like a bunch of malarkey. I am confident that what really happened was that the Republican leadership told the local leadership who was going to be the candidate. Anytime the local GOP affiliate (or DNC affiliate) gets out of hand and there is something at stake, you can rest assured that higher levels of leadership will swoop in and tell them how it’s going to be. That’s one way that the political system is rigged and managed by the REAL powers-that-be.

  6. Robert,

    Sure, and that’s great… targeting Republican (and Democratic) voters is the only way Smither or any Libertarian can win at this time. However, arguing that a weak Republican candidate should drop out of a race because a strong Libertarian candidate is in it doesn’t jive with the 10,001 other times that the shoe has been on the other foot.

  7. I think we’re making a mistake by referring to the GOP write-in candidate by name. They never refer to us by name in 3-way races. They always call the Democrat “their opponent” (singular) and they never even mention third party or independent candidates. If pressed, they’ll always respond with something like “The voters of my district have a clear choice between (Democrat) and (Republican) and they’ll make their decision between those choices”.

    Mentioning Ms. Hyphen-Hyphen-Too-Damn-Many-Buttons-To-Push too often, by us, by the local LP leaders, or by Bob Smither, probably isn’t such a good idea. He should refer to the Democrat as “my opponent” (singular) and find a way to tastefully discount the write-in candidates without even mentioning them by name.

  8. Bitterness is uncalled for. What the Republicans did was the best possible thing for us. The vast majority of Republican registered voters out there don’t care what the party did.

    We should try not to insult the voters, or HofT blogs will be quoted in Republican mailings to them. We shouldn’t worry about the Republican leadership at all. Only voters matter.

  9. Chris in NJ has the right of it. Combine that with continued phone canvasing.

    The GOP leadership obviously won’t have us. Too bad for them! Maybe we just might get their voters thinking outside the R/D dichotomy long enough to do something real… it’s not like they have guns at the heads of the people pulling the ballots.

    Do real grassroots, *IGNORE* the GOP write-ins (both of ’em) and see what comes of it.

  10. The last thing that we will ever see is an attributed HoT blog post sent to Republican voters. Why would the GOP let the cat out of the bag. I agree that Smither should not reference the Republicans. He should only recognize “my opponent” – the Democratic candidate.

  11. When I lived in Texas, the voting machine grouped candidates by office, as in California, rather than by party column as in New York. But there was a Party lever that a voter could pull, and it would cast a vote for the Party candidate in each office.

    It is likely that some Republican voters will pull the party lever without writing in the Hyphenated candidate, and think they voted the whole Republican ticket. This won’t directly help Mr Smithers, but it will hold down the vote for the GOP endorsed candidate. Smithers at least has a chance of coming in second because he is on the ballot, and that should be good for future LP fund-raising letters.

  12. Yeah, if anything, Smither’s campaign should highlight a lot of the LP’s successes, even if this sorta event happens once in a blue moon.

    Heck, with Badnarik and Smither running in the same state, at the same time, I would think the Texas LP could use this in future marketing efforts.

  13. What Mr. Cassidy says makes sense, and wholly disagree with Mr. DaveT. In fact, I will venture to say that this election will still be between Dem and Lib–I don’t suspect the write-in candidate will do well. And I reflect Mr. Mayer’s sentiments that we need to continue showing our Republican friends (and Democratic friends) why Bob Smithers is a far better choice for them than the persons their own parties have nominated or endorsed.

    The best of luck to Mr. Bon Smithers, despite my opposition to the so-called FairTax.

  14. No surprise here. We can’t expect the Repubs to just hand it to us, we’re going to have to get out there and spread the word about Bob Smithers, and the LP itself. Donate some $$ on his website or make some calls!

  15. I agree with Austin. Too many times when the shoe was on the other foot, the LP has balked at backing good libertarian Republicans. Even former Libertarian Party members running as Republicans. Perhaps Houston-area GOP insiders are keen to this, and saw this as a bit of payback.

    But I still think Bob has an outside shot of winning. Really, running a write-in candidate, one with a hyphenated name is sheer lunacy. Me bet, Sekula-Gibbs gets less than 10% of the vote.

    I live in Ron Paul’s District, which borders Texas CD 22. I can tell you first hand that your mainline Republicans, who are not GOP insiders will not vote write-in. They will most likely vote for Smither.

    Keep in mind the word “libertarian” is quite popular in the NASA/Clear Lake to Sugarland, highly entrepreneurial area. This is former Ron Paul territory too!

    Regular coverage of the Smither Campaign thru November at

  16. Another huge factor this year in Texas, is that it’s a Banner Third Party year.

    We’ve got libertarian-leaning Kinky Friedman polling at 18% for Governor, Carole Keeten-Strahorn, also polling at 18% for Gov. People are going to be very inclined to pull the lever for 3rd Partys in Texas this year.

    That could be a HUGE benefit for Smither.

  17. Smither’s biggest opponent is NOT Nick Lampson. His biggest challenger is named MR. FUNDRAISING.

    Whether or not Bob Smither wins this race, in my mind, depends almost entirely on whether or not he can raise the funds for a competitive race.

    He’s currently at $10,000 or so. He needs over $300,000 to do well, over $500,000 at least to win.

    If the LP can come through with some cash and quick, he’ll appear like a mainstream candidate, despite Sekula-Gibbs, and other groups like Club for Growth and the NRA will back him with major funds.

    If this doesn’t happen quick, Smither will still do well, 20 to 30% ranges, but probably won’t win.

    So empty your pockets NOW!!! Send Bob a donation at

  18. I wonder if anyone from the Smither campaign has talked to Ron Paul and asked if he wouldn’t mind coming over into Bob’s district and doing a little campaigning for him or possibly just endorsing him or writing a little blurb endorsing him that Bob can send out to potential voters in his district. I believe part of this district used to be Ron Pauls.

    I actually think he has a chance. If you take the rep. voters and break them up. About a third will write in for the republican candidate, a third will pull the one-party lever vote effectively voting for no one, and a third will vote for Mr. Smither. This could get him about 20-25% of the vote there. If you add in another 10-15% for ind., third parties, and even a few democrats you pull up to possibly 30-35% of the vote. Then you take into consideration that the one-party lever voters effectively voted for no one, it raises his percent even a little higher. He could be at 35-40%, dem at roughly the same, and rep at 25% or so.

  19. Wallace did withdraw as a write-in.

    Shelly Sekula-Gibbs is horrible. She’s a big RINO – Republican In Name Only. She’s even in favor of smoking bans at Houston restaurants. She’s a Statist Nanny-Stater. An embarrassment to the Republican Party.

  20. Eric,

    Ms. Gibbs is definetely a republican, at least what they have become. They or at least there leadership are no longer for limited gov’t in any manner. They have completely forsaken the Goldwater/Reagan ideas about limited gov’t. Now if we can only get the common republican voter to realize this, than the libertarian party may have a chance of growing rapidly and start winning elections.

  21. The republicans would rather lose the seat for two years and then take it back (as they will if the dem wins) than have to try to run against an incumbant that they supported in the last election.

    Neither party cares about what a politician’s views are, they care that they are a member of their club. Once you stop thinking about actual policy or principles (hard for most of us), politics becomes much easier to understand.

  22. Please be aware that Kathy Haigler does NOT speak for all Republicans in CD 22. The REAL Republicans like Bob Barr and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson are behind Bob Smither.

    Haigler is in the inner circle of the Tina Benkiser regime. She’s a member of the State Republican Committee who always carries Benkiser’s proposals when the committee votes on stuff for the party.

    Haigler is also one of the principle actors behind a nasty rumor campaign that’s been smearing Bob Smither for weeks now. A few weeks ago she was claiming that he was a Nick Lampson plant because Lampson cosponsored missing children legislation after Smither’s daughter was abducted and murdered. Last week she told hundreds of Republicans in the district that if they supported Smither they didn’t belong in the Republican Party. She speaks for the inept Benkiser camp – not for the real GOP grassroots.