Crowded ballot in District 17

HOUSTON Governor Rick Perry called a special election earlier this year to fill the seat after the senator serving quit mid-term.

Former Congressman Chris Bell is on the campaign trail again. The most recent Democratic nominee for governor is now running for State Senate District 17 after an unsuccessful attempt to take the one other Democrat off the special election ballot.

"I did not believe she was a legal candidate and we took that to court and they said she could remain on the ballot and that's that and we've moved forward," said Bell.

That other Democrat is attorney Stephanie Simmons, who says she wants to change Austin. Of the four Republicans on the ballot, attorney Grant Harpold says he wants to lower property taxes. Lake Jackson business owner Ken Sherman is also on the ballot, as well as former prosecutor and judge Joan Huffman.

It's a good cast of Republicans. I don't see one of them as more formidable than the other," said Huffman. "I think I am the candidate that is going to end up going head to head with Chris Bell and I think I'm the Republican who can beat Chris Bell."

The final of the four Republicans is Austen Furse, who believes his endorsement by former President George Bush and his experience as a White House staffer will set him apart.

"I led a series of conservative grass roots reforms here in the Houston area," he said. "That gives me some knowledge that you just can't pick up at the grocery store."

If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will go into a runoff. For Bell, he likes his chances.

"After you've done this a couple of times, youi do get sort of a gut feel and start picking up signs," he said. "And I like those signs we're starting to pick up out on the street."

The runoff would be in December.

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