Lampson was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas's 9th congressional district from 1997 to 2005. After a controversial redistricting, he was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Texas's 2nd congressional district in 2004. After a one-term hiatus from Congress, he returned to Congress from the 22nd district, formerly represented by former Republican majority leader Tom DeLay until June 9, 2006. On November 13, 2006, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs was sworn in to serve out the remainder of DeLay's unexpired term and served approximately 51 days. She had won a special election held on the same day as the general election in which Lampson defeated her. Lampson had complained about Gibbs' campaign style.
He is is is a lifelong resident of southeast Texas and a second-generation Italian-American. His grandparents came to America from Italy and settled in Stafford, Texas, nearly 100 years ago, where they had farms and were founding members of their church. His parents grew up, met, and married in Fort Bend County, and the Lampson children spent a great deal of time on their grandparents' farms working the fields.
Lampson was one of six children born to a welder and a homemaker. His father passed away when he was 12 years old, and Lampson took his first job at that young age sweeping floors to supplement the family's income. Lampson's mother received $19 dollars per month from Social Security to supplement their income as long as he stayed in school. This money helped his family stay together in those difficult years, and he has been a steadfast voice for protecting Social Security throughout his time in government.
Though Lampson's mother received only a fifth grade education, all six of her children graduated from college with at least one degree. His mother later received her GED on her 80th birthday. Lampson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a master's degree in education from Lamar University, located in Beaumont. He taught high school science before entering politics.
Lampson has been married to wife, Susan Floyd Lampson, for 35 years. They have two grown daughters, Hillary and Stephanie, and four grandchildren. His youngest daughter, Stephanie, is a teacher, as is his wife, Susan, who teaches special education. He currently lives in Stafford with his wife.
The November 1996 election for the 9th district was an open primary due to judicially-mandated redistricting. In that election, incumbent Republican Steve Stockman, who had upset Brooks in 1994, received 46 percent to Lampson's 44 percent of the vote. However, Lampson defeated Stockman in the December runoff with over 52 percent.
Just months into his first term, a family in Lampson's district suffered a widely-publicized tragedy. A 12-year-old girl from Friendswood was abducted and found murdered two weeks later. Lampson was moved by the family's courage and the overwhelming community response. For that reason, he established the first-ever Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, which now numbers more than 120 members from both parties. Coincidentally, Bob Smither, the father of the murdered girl, was Lampson's Libertarian opponent in the 2006 election. The Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus was directly responsible for nationalizing the successful AMBER Alert system. In addition, Lampson sponsored legislation to fund law enforcement efforts to stop child pornography and exploitation on the Internet. (After returning to Congress in 2007, Lampson re-formed the bipartisan caucus with Steve Chabot of Ohio.)
In addition to the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, Lampson was also active in other issue-oriented Congressional caucuses, including Manufactured Housing, Correctional Officers, I-69 Highway, Coast Guard, Coastal, Human Rights, Spina Bifida, Cancer, Asian and Pacific American and Arts. He also served as the chairman of the Congressional Study Group on Germany.
Lampson was reelected three times without serious opposition. However, he was one of the targets of a controversial mid-decade redistricting in 2003. His district was renumbered as the 2nd district. Galveston, which had been the heart of the district and its previous incarnations for over a century, was moved into the neighboring 14th District, while much of Galveston County and the portion of Houston including NASA's Johnson Space Center (which had been part of the 9th since 1967) were drawn into DeLay's 22nd District. In their place, several more Republican areas in and around Houston were added to the district.
In the 2004 election, Lampson faced Republican opponent Ted Poe, a longtime felony court judge in Harris County, home to most of Houston. On November 2, 2004, Lampson lost to Poe, with 43 percent to Poe's 55 percent. Though Jefferson County, home to Beaumont, gave Lampson a majority, he was swamped in the Harris County portion of the district, which supported Poe with 70 percent of the vote.
The 22nd had long been considered a solidly Republican district, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+15. A Democratic presidential candidate had not carried the district since Texan Lyndon B. Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election. Democrats had not held the congressional seat since after the 1978 election. 2008 presidential candidate Ron Paul had held the seat as a Republican before DeLay took over in 1985. Traditionally, among districts in the Houston area, only the 7th District is considered more Republican.
However, DeLay, who was then the House Majority Leader, was seen as vulnerable. He had only won reelection by 14 points in 2004 against a relatively unknown Democrat who spent virtually no money—an unusually close margin for a party leader. Many experts believed that the 22nd had become much more competitive as a result of DeLay's attempts to make the other Houston-area districts more Republican. Most importantly, DeLay had been investigated for corruption and was indicted on conspiracy and money laundering charges. DeLay denies all allegations and a Texas judge dismissed the former charge in late 2006; still, this damaged DeLay's credibility and ethics in the campaign.
Conservative media pundits criticized Lampson. Fred Barnes of Fox News Channel called him "a carpetbagger" who "moved into" DeLay's district. However, Lampson had represented roughly one-fifth of the 22nd during his first stint in Congress, and as mentioned above had family connections in the district.
On April 4, 2006, DeLay withdrew his candidacy for the upcoming November midterm elections in the face of questions about his ethics, though he cited troubling poll numbers. Lampson announced on August 17, 2006, that three major police associations had endorsed him: the National Association of Police Officers, the International Union of Police Associations, and the Texas State Police Coalition. On September 22, 2006, the Hotline ranked Texas' 22nd Congressional District House race as third (up from a previous ranking of fifth) in a list of the top 30 House races in the country. Additionally, other traditionally conservative organizations backed Lampson's candidacy. The National Rifle Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars both supported Lampson in the 2006 election.
Three national political journals—the Cook Political Report, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, and Congressional Quarterly—rated the race as Leans Democratic. On October 30, 2006, a Zogby poll commissioned by the Houston Chronicle-KHOU-TV was released, showing the write-in candidate, Sekula-Gibbs, at 27.9 percent and Lampson at 36 percent, with nearly 25 percent still undecided.
Lampson defeated Sekula-Gibbs in the November 7, 52 to 42 percent, with the remaining 6 percent going to Libertarian Bob Smither. He officially returned to Congress on January 4, 2007.
Lampson has consistently emphasized the importance and relevance of NASA, located in his district, to national issues. Along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and other Texas politicians, he has petitioned Congress to approve more funding for NASA to "maintain our nation's technological leadership in this field" and "provide an immediate and long-term economic stimulus for our nation's economy...contributing new jobs, industrial development and stimulus to struggling communities.
Consistent with his plans for NASA, Lampson is an active proponent of business and economic growth. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce awarded him the "Spirit of Enterprise" award on April 14, 2008, for his commitment to economic expansion and job growth based on his Congressional voting record.
Lampson has also been active in local groups such as the American Heart Association, Land Manor (a rehabilitation facility), and the Young Men's Business League. He chaired the 1995 Bishop's Faith Appeal and was recognized as the Outstanding Young Man of Beaumont in 1978 by the Texas Jaycees. He is also a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
|1996||Nick Lampson *||83,782||44%||Steve Stockman *||88,171||46%||Geraldine Sam||Democratic||17,887||9%|
|1996||Nick Lampson||59,225||53%||Steve Stockman||52,870||47%|
|1998||Nick Lampson||86,055||64%||Tom Cottar||49,107||36%|
|2000||Nick Lampson||130,143||59%||Paul Williams||87,165||40%||F. Charles Knipp||Libertarian||2,508||1%|
|2002||Nick Lampson||86,710||59%||Paul Williams||59,635||40%||Dean L. Tucker||Libertarian||1,613||1%|
|2004||Nick Lampson||108,156||43%||Ted Poe||139,951||56%||Sandra Leigh Saulsbury||Libertarian||3,931||2%|
|Year||Democrat||Votes||Pct||Republican||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct|
|2006||(no candidate)||Shelley Sekula-Gibbs||76,924||62%||Bob Smither||Libertarian||23,425||19%||Steve Stockman||Republican||13,600||11%||*|
|2006||76,775||52%||(no candidate)||Shelley Sekula-Gibbs||Write-in||61,938||42%||Bob Smither||Libertarian||9,009||6%||*|