FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas - In the teeth of a Texas summer early voters are turning out for a fiercely contested Republican Congressional run-off in which, strangely enough, neither candidate is talking to reporters.
Instead, Republican activist Kathaleen Wall is carpet-bombing the airwaves with mostly negative campaign ads, while challenger Troy Nehls is relying heavily on goodwill accumulated during years as a constable and Ft. Bend County Sheriff.
FOX 26 spent the day at the two different polling points attempting to learn which strategy was working.
“I think residents who have lived here a long time have seen what a good job (Nehls) has done for the county and I think her ads are not slanderous, but below the belt,” said voter Pam Rahmatdoosd.
“Kathaleen has done well as far as her advertising. I don’t believe some of the stuff she’s spread out there," said voter Johnny Walker, who describes himself as a solid Nehl’s supporter.
Wall, who moved into District 22 from Houston solely to contend for the seat, drew fire from other voters who say they’ve endured an irritating, onslaught of paid advertising that’s turned them against the outsider. One voter called the tactic “negative overkill.”
“Some days you’d check the mail and there would be two or three or four Kathaleen Wall negative ads against Toy Nehls, just a ridiculous amount of negative advertising,” said voter Jay Kleinheinz.
“I’ve gotten eight phone calls, mail and they’ve come to my house, so there is a lot of money involved with her, but Troy is going to make it. He’s the right person,” said voter Diane Clark who says she’s known Nehls for 21 years.
“This woman, with all the millions of dollars that she has, is just trying to buy this seat. She has no idea about Ft. Ben County,” said voter and Nehls supporter Mary Charles.
FOX 26 spoke with dozens of voters at two different early voting locations. None of those willing to comment identified themselves as a likely Wall supporter.
Veteran Republican political analyst Jacquie Baly tells FOX 26 she believes Wall’s multimillion-dollar campaign has failed to gain traction.
Rice political analyst Mark Jones says Wall will likely spend more than $7 million during the District 22 campaign. Jones says records indicate Nehls spending has barely reached six figures.