Even though he won’t be running for Fort Bend County sheriff again, it’s highly likely we’ll be seeing Troy Nehls on the ballot next year.

The Herald reported Thursday that Nehls was forming an exploratory committee to run for U.S. Rep. Pete Olson’s 22nd Congressional District seat, but later that afternoon, Olson announced he also would be stepping down.

Olson, R-Sugar Land, was elected in 2008 after defeating Democrat Nick Lampson.

Lampson, who was elected in 2006 after former Rep. and Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, resigned from office after being indicted on conspiracy and money laundering charges.

(DeLay was convicted of both counts in trial court in 2012, but vindicated when the 3rd Court of Appeals overturned the convictions in 2012 and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the lower court in 2014).

Expect Nehls to have plenty of company in the primary if he decides to enter the congressional race.

Nehls, 51, a Republican who was elected over former Chief Deputy Craig Brady in 2012, didn’t give specific reasons for not wanting to run for re-election as sheriff, but we wonder if he was reading the tea leaves and thinks Fort Bend County will continue to go Democratic like it did in 2018.

It would’ve been a tall order to defeat an incumbent Republican in a primary, especially in the conservative 22nd district, but now Nehls and others won’t have to. It may end up being a free-for-all.

We could expect a Nehls campaign to center around Fort Bend County becoming a safer place with a lower burglary rate, but the 22nd district encompasses a large area where he’s unknown.

In addition to Fort Bend, it also includes Brazoria County (Pearland, Alvin) and part of Harris County (Friendswood and League City area). Getting to know those voters will take time and a lot of money.

But there are signs the 22nd is becoming less of a lock for Republicans. In 2018, the year of Beto O’Rourke, Democrat Sri Kulkarni got within 5 percentage points of Olson.

Kulkarni has announced he’ll be running again, and so far has two opponents in the 2020 Democratic primary, lawyer and political commentator Nyanza Moore and Pearland City Councilman Derrick Reed.

Troy Nehls also has an identical twin brother, Trever, who is currently the Fort Bend County Precinct 4 constable and was a Sugar Land police officer before that.

Troy has previously said Trever would make a fine sheriff.

So, there’s always the possibility 2020 could give us not one, but two Nehls brothers on the ballot. We’ll be waiting for more official announcements and watching when the filing period begins in November.

MUELLER TRAIN WRECK: I wasn’t going to watch much of the special counsel’s congressional testimony Wednesday, but I got sucked in.

As many of you saw, Mueller undermined his report and came across as bumbling, unprepared and incompetent.

Reach Fred Hartman at fbh@hartmannews.com.

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