Texas's 22nd congressional district
|Texas's 22nd congressional district|
Texas's 22nd congressional district of the United States House of Representatives covers a largely suburban south-central portion of the Greater Houston metropolitan area. The district includes the majority of Fort Bend County, including most of the cities of Sugar Land, Missouri City, Rosenberg, Needville and the county seat of Richmond as well as the county's share of the largely unincorporated Greater Katy area west of Houston. In addition, the district also contains portions of northern Brazoria County, including Pearland and Alvin, as well as a small portion of southeast Harris County centered on Friendswood.
The district is represented by Republican Troy Nehls, who was elected in 2020 over two-time challenger Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni. Before 2006, the district had been represented by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay since 1985, and before that, former Congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul briefly in 1976 and again from 1979 to 1985. In 2006, 52% of poll respondents identified as Republicans, 32% as Democrats, and 16% as independents. The Cook Partisan Voting Index, which derives its data from the two most recent presidential elections, gave the district a 10-point Republican lean compared to the national average until its 2021 review, when it was lowered to only 4-points.
The district was originally created in 1958, replacing the abolished at-large district represented by Democrat Martin Dies, Jr. from 1953 to 1959. At the time, all of Texas's 254 counties had representation by one collective member of Congress. The new district was placed in Harris County, home to the city of Houston and previously represented in its entirely by Democrat Albert Thomas in the state's 8th congressional district, making Harris the first county in Texas since World War II to be divided into more than one congressional district.
The new 22nd district, largely made up of suburban territory outside of Houston along with southern portions of the city itself, was won by Democrat Robert R. Casey, a former Harris County Judge (a post equivalent to that of a county executive in Texas). The 8th and 22nd districts were separated by a boundary consisting roughly of what is now U.S. 290, the western and southern portions of Loop 610, and the portion of Buffalo Bayou east of downtown Houston including the Houston Ship Channel. All points south of this boundary were in the 22nd, while the remainder was in the 8th. These boundaries would remain effective until the 1964 elections.
After a federal court in Houston ruled Texas' congressional redistricting practices as unconstitutional in Bush v. Martin, effective with the 1966 elections, Harris County was realigned into three separate congressional districts — the existing 8th and 22nd districts, plus the newly realigned 7th district on the west side of Houston and Harris County. The new 7th would elect former Harris County Republican Party chairman (and future President) George H. W. Bush, while Casey's 22nd district was made the most compact of the three, stretching from southwest Houston to southeast Harris County, including Pasadena and Clear Lake City, and also encompassing the Johnson Space Center. The district was not realigned until following the 1970 Census.
Beginning with the 1972 elections, the 22nd district lost some largely African-American portions to the newly realigned, majority African-American 18th district (which would elect Democrat Barbara Jordan), while other areas along the Houston Ship Channel went to the 8th district, now represented by Democrat Bob Eckhardt and primarily concentrated in north Houston.
Those areas were replaced by rapidly growing Fort Bend and Brazoria counties, home to growing Republican constituencies of white upper-middle-class families — natives and transplants alike — moving to jobs in Houston's growing energy sector, as well as at the Johnson Space Center and the Texas Medical Center, and drawn to affordable housing and top-rated schools in the area's burgeoning master-planned communities. A mid-decade redistricting in 1974 added southern Waller County, with a similar character to Fort Bend and Brazoria. As with most growing exurban areas in the Southern United States, these new areas also had large blocs of conservative white Democrats disenchanted with their party's support for restoration of civil rights promoted by the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson and the national Democratic Party. While Casey continued to win reelection in 1972 and 1974 without significant opposition, his resignation following his appointment to the Federal Maritime Commission in 1976, combined with increased suburban growth in the aforementioned counties, opened the door for a Republican upset in the special election that followed.
Months after Casey's resignation, on April 3, 1976, Republican Ron Paul, a physician and Air Force veteran who had moved from the Pittsburgh area in the previous decade with his wife and settled in Brazoria County, won a special election to fill the remainder of Casey's unexpired term. While Paul lost the general election later that year to Democratic State Senator Bob Gammage by fewer than 300 votes, in 1978 he defeated Gammage in a general election rematch by a 1,200-vote margin, coinciding with the election of Bill Clements as Texas's first Republican Governor since Reconstruction. In 1980, Paul would go on to win a second term, defeating Democratic attorney Mike Andrews, a former Harris County prosecutor, by a narrow margin.
Following the 1980 Census, rapid growth in the Houston area resulted in most of the Harris County portion of the 22nd being transferred to the new 25th congressional district, which Mike Andrews won in 1982 and would hold for six terms before pursuing an unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 1994. The redistricting left Paul with a district comprising three major portions, all of which were strongly Republican. These included:
- all of Fort Bend County, by this time a booming suburban county anchored by the development of the First Colony master-planned community in Sugar Land, and also containing other booming suburbs including Missouri City, Stafford and Rosenberg.
- much of Paul's political base in Brazoria County, except for a tiny western portion around the communities of Sweeny and West Columbia located in the adjacent 14th district; and
- most of southwest Houston and Harris County along the Southwest Freeway, including the Westwood, Sharpstown and Fondren areas of Houston. This portion also included the Richmond Avenue entertainment corridor, The Galleria and the adjacent Transco Tower, the inner suburbs of Bellaire and West University Place, Houston Baptist University, and Greenway Plaza including The Summit (then the home of the NBA's Houston Rockets). Much of the area's retail activity, centered on the aforementioned Galleria as well as the Sharpstown and Westwood malls, along with most of southwest Houston's automotive dealerships (some of them among the top dealers in the nation), was also concentrated in the Harris County portion of the district and extended as far south as Stafford (then home to a major manufacturing facility for Texas Instruments).
This configuration would remain in effect for the remainder of the 1980s, including the first four terms of Republican Tom DeLay's tenure, as Paul unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in 1984 against eventual winner Phil Gramm. DeLay served as President of the conservative Republican Study Committee and became a Republican whip while representing this configuration of the district.
Following the 1990 Census, the 22nd district was redrawn to take in all of Fort Bend County, all of Brazoria County save for its western and southern edges, and a small portion of southwest Houston in Harris County around the Alief, Westchase and Sharpstown areas. The district was further realigned after the 2000 Census, taking effect after the 2002 elections, when DeLay was re-elected and became House Majority Leader. The district maintained its share of both Fort Bend and Brazoria counties (save for Fort Bend's share of the city of Houston), while also gaining a large portion of southeast Harris County, including portions of Clear Lake City, Pasadena, La Porte, Deer Park and Seabrook.
In 2003, following the Republican takeover of the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas Legislature engineered a mid-decade redistricting. The 22nd lost its share of Brazoria County except for Pearland, as well as communities on Fort Bend County's northern and western edges, to the 14th district. That district was now represented by Paul, who was elected and returned to Congress in 1997 after a 12-year absence. The 22nd district now included Pearland, almost all of southeast Harris County, including the Johnson Space Center, and a largely working-class western portion of Galveston County, including Santa Fe and La Marque, in addition to much of DeLay's political base in Sugar Land, Missouri City, Rosenberg and surrounding areas. The district would remain unchanged through the rest of the decade, but changed its incumbent three times after Tom DeLay resigned on June 9, 2006 in the wake of corruption allegations related to the 2003 redistricting.
As the result of a special election on November 7, 2006 to fill DeLay's vacant congressional seat, Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs filled the remainder of DeLay's term in late 2006, having lost the general election to Democrat Nick Lampson in a bizarre set of circumstances. Lampson had previously represented Texas's 9th congressional district, based in Beaumont and Galveston, before the 2003 redistricting resulted in that district being renumbered as the 2nd district and pushed into heavily Republican northern Houston. Lampson was defeated in the 2004 election by Republican Harris County district court judge Ted Poe. Ahead of the 2006 election, Lampson moved to Stafford, where his grandparents had settled after they immigrated from Italy. Additionally, the 22nd included a large slice of his former base; he'd previously represented much of the Galveston County portion of the district, as well as the area around the Johnson Space Center. Lampson benefited from Sekula-Gibbs being forced to run a write-in campaign, as DeLay had resigned one month after winning a contentious Republican primary against three challengers (one of whom won over 20 percent of the vote, but not enough to overcome DeLay's vote of over 60 percent). After just one term and despite a vigorous campaign, Lampson lost the seat to Republican Pete Olson in 2008, who has held the seat since, often winning with double-digit margins. However in 2018, Olson narrowly won a sixth term in a surprisingly close race against Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni fueled by Democratic coattails (mostly involving straight ticket voting) from the Senate campaign of Beto O'Rourke, who won Fort Bend County and narrowly lost the 22nd district in his unsuccessful, but close bid against incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
Since 2013, the district has included most of Fort Bend County, save for most of the communities of Stafford, Mission Bend, Fresno, northern Missouri City and the Fort Bend Houston "super neighborhood" in far southwest Houston. Also within the district lie northern parts of Brazoria County, including Pearland and Alvin, and portions of southeast Houston and Harris County running along Interstate 45 south of the Sam Houston Tollway. The affluent residents of the district tends to vote strongly Republican and has an average median household income of $82,899 as of the 2012 American Community Survey. It is the wealthiest congressional district in Texas and also a diverse district with sizable minority constituencies, who are educated and of the professional class.
Mitt Romney won the district with 62% of the vote in 2012, with Republicans holding the overwhelming majority of elected offices in the district. The district also voted for Donald Trump in 2016 despite Hillary Clinton becoming the first Democrat to carry Fort Bend County since 1964. Democratic strength within the district is largely concentrated in heavily Hispanic communities in Rosenberg, along with some parts of Missouri City, where the African-American population exceeds one-third, and western precincts in Pearland; these favored Barack Obama with around 50-60% of the vote. But these voting blocs are outnumbered by large blocs of suburban Republican voters in much of the district, including groups of moderate-leaning ethnic Asian voters centered on Sugar Land, along with some conservative-leaning Hispanic and African-American voters in more affluent parts of the district. Still, due to Fort Bend County's recent status as a classic suburban "swing county" in state and national politics, as well as Democratic gains at the local level in the 2018 elections, many observers speculate that this district is likely to be competitive in future elections.
According to the APM Research Lab's Voter Profile Tools (featuring the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey), the district contained about 611,000 potential voters (citizens, age 18+). Of these, 54% are White, 23% Latino, 16% Black, and 16% Asian. Immigrants make up 22% of the district's potential voters. Median income among households (with one or more potential voter) is about $102,500. As for the educational attainment of potential voters in the district, 42% hold a bachelor's or higher degree.
Recent election results from presidential races
|2000||President||Bush 62 – 35%|
|2004||President||Bush 64 – 36%|
|2008||President||McCain 60 – 39%|
|2012||President||Romney 62 – 37%|
|2016||President||Trump 52 – 44%|
|2020||President||Trump 50 – 49%|
List of members representing the district
After President Gerald Ford appointed Casey to head the Federal Maritime Commission, Paul won a 1976 special election against Democrat Robert Gammage to fill the empty seat; Paul was sworn in on April 3. Paul had decided to enter politics on August 15, 1971, when President Richard Nixon closed the "gold window" by implementing the U.S. dollar's complete departure from the gold standard.
Paul was the first Republican elected from the area since Reconstruction, and the first from the state since Bill Guill was elected from the 14th congressional district in 1950. He led the Texas Reagan delegation at the national Republican convention. His successful campaign against Gammage surprised local Democrats, who had expected to retain the seat easily following the Watergate scandal of President Richard Nixon. Gammage underestimated Paul's support among local women.
Gammage narrowly defeated Paul some months later in the general election, by fewer than 300 votes (0.2%).
Paul defeated Gammage in a 1978 rematch. Paul would go on to win the 1980 and 1982 elections as well.
In 1984, Paul chose to run for the U.S. Senate instead of re-election to the House. He was succeeded by former state representative and Republican Tom DeLay. DeLay would go on to win re-election from 1986 through 2004.
|Republican||Tom DeLay (incumbent)||150,386||55.2|
On January 2, 2006, Nick Lampson, a Jefferson County tax assessor-collector, filed as a Democrat to challenge incumbent Tom DeLay for the 2006 general election. Lampson had represented the adjacent ninth district until DeLay engineered the 2003 Texas redistricting, after which Lampson lost his seat to Republican Ted Poe in 2004.
DeLay won the Republican primary on March 7, 2006, taking 62% of the vote in the four-way race. It was DeLay's weakest showing in a primary election, which prompted doubts about whether he could win the general election. On April 3, 2006, three days after his former aide Tony Rudy pleaded guilty to various charges of corruption relating to the Jack Abramoff scandal, DeLay announced that he would withdraw from the race.
Under Texas law, it was too late for the Republican Party to select another candidate for the ballot of the 2006 general election. DeLay announced on August 8, 2006 that he would withdraw in order to allow the party to organize a campaign for a write-in candidate. Texas Governor Rick Perry announced on August 29, 2006 that a special election would take place for the remainder of DeLay's term (November 2006 to January 2007).
The Texas Republican Party supported Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs as their write-in candidate. Lampson chose not to run in the special election. Sekula-Gibbs won and was sworn in on November 13, 2006. She represented the district for the remaining few weeks of the 109th United States Congress. Sekula-Gibbs promised to fix health care, taxes, and immigration.
Due to DeLay's late announcement, no Republican was listed on the ballot for the two-year term that began in January 2007.
The special election was held concurrently with the general election on November 7, 2006. Voters cast votes twice on that date, once for the special election, once for the general election. This arrangement ensured that Sekula-Gibbs's name appeared on a November 7 ballot. Nonetheless, Lampson won the general election and was sworn in on January 4, 2007.
|Republican||Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (write-in)||59,914||42.8|
|Republican||Don Richardson (write-in)||408||0.3|
|Independent||Joe Reasbeck (write-in)||86||0.1|
Democratic incumbent Nick Lampson sought re-election. The Republican primary was highly competitive, as Lampson's prior victory was seen as the result of Republicans being forced to run a write-in campaign. Former incumbent Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, former Navy pilot and former Senate liaison officer Pete Olson, state representative Robert Talton, former councilman and mayor of Pasadena John Manlove, and former councilman and mayor of Sugar Land Dean Hrbacek all competed in the primary. No candidate won the primary outright, leading to a run-off campaign between the top two finishers, Sekula-Gibbs and Olson. Olson won the run-off and the nomination.
Olson and Lampson faced each other in the November 4, 2008 general election, along with Libertarian candidate, Vietnam veteran, retired businessman, and community volunteer John Wieder. Olson won the election and was sworn into office in January 2009.
|Democratic||Nick Lampson (incumbent)||140,160||45.4|
|Republican||Pete Olson (incumbent)||140,537||67.5|
Kesha Rogers, a political activist with ties to the Lyndon LaRouche movement and the 2010 Democratic nominee, narrowly won the Democratic Party's nomination by 103 votes. Rogers was disavowed by some local Democrats for her controversial platform, which included impeaching President Barack Obama and colonizing outer space.
|Republican||Pete Olson (incumbent)||160,668||64.03|
Three-term incumbent Republican Pete Olson sought re-election. Frank Briscoe and Mark Gibson ran for the Democratic Party's nomination; Briscoe won the primary. Libertarian Rob Lapham competed with Olson and Briscoe in the general election. Olson was re-elected with 66.55% of the vote.
|Republican||Pete Olson (incumbent)||33,167||100|
|Republican||Pete Olson (incumbent)||100,861||66.55|
Four-term incumbent Republican Pete Olson sought re-election. In the Democratic primary, Mark Gibson, who lost in the primary in 2014, and A. R. Hassan competed for the party's nomination; Gibson won the nomination with 76.16% of the vote. Olson was re-elected with 59.52% of the vote in the general election.
|Democratic||A. R. Hassan||7,226||23.84|
|Republican||Pete Olson (incumbent)||73,375||100|
|Republican||Pete Olson (incumbent)||181,864||59.52|
Five-term incumbent Republican Pete Olson sought re-election. In the Democratic primary, several candidates competed for the nomination, including former diplomat Sri Preston Kulkarni, dentist Letitia Plummer, and 2016 nominee Mark Gibson. No candidate won the Democratic nomination outright, leading to a run-off election between the top two finishers, Kulkarni and Plummer. Kulkarni won the run-off with 62% of the vote, and faced Olson, Libertarian John McElligott, and independent candidate Sara Kellen Sweney in the general election. Olson won the general election with 51.4% of the vote, his closest-ever victory.
|Republican||Pete Olson (incumbent)||35,782||78.4|
|Democratic||Sri Preston Kulkarni||9,466||31.8|
|Democratic||Margarita Ruiz Johnson||3,767||12.7|
|Democratic||Sri Preston Kulkarni||9.517||62.11|
|Republican||Pete Olson (incumbent)||152,750||51.4|
|Democratic||Sri Preston Kulkarni||138,153||46.4|
Six-term incumbent Republican Pete Olson announced he would not seek re-election in 2020, opening up a competitive contest for both major parties. On the Democratic side, 2018 nominee Sri Preston Kulkarni won the nomination again in the March 3 primary, while on the Republican side a large number of candidates ran, including Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, GOP donor Kathaleen Wall, and Pierce Bush, a member of the Bush family. No candidate won the Republican primary outright, initiating a run-off contest between the top two finishers, Troy Nehls and Kathaleen Wall. Nehls defeated Wall in the July 14 run-off to win the nomination. Nehls defeated Kulkarni in the November election for the seat, which also featured Libertarian candidate Joseph LeBlanc Jr.
|Democratic||Sri Preston Kulkarni||34,664||53.07|
|Democratic||Derrick A. Reed||16,126||24.69|
|Democratic||Nyanza Davis Moore||9,449||14.47|
|Democratic||Carmine Petrillo III||5,074||7.77|
|Republican||Brandon T. Penko||96||0.1|
|Democratic||Sri Preston Kulkarni||175,738||44.4|
|Libertarian||Joseph LeBlanc Jr.||15,452||3.9|
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