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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

TX-22: Tomfoolery Backfires?

Posted by James L.

You've got to hand it to Tom DeLay. Facing abysmal chances in the November election against former Rep. Nick Lampson, DeLay took the opportunity to fall on his own sword by slinking off to Virginia in an attempt to give the TX GOP another window to nominate someone a little less, oh, you know, indicted. Even in (political) death, he never ceased to miss a chance to sock a Democrat in the stomach. You've got to give him that, at least.

Given that a party cannot nominate a new candidate after a primary election in Texas, DeLay chose a legal loophole: get the hell out of dodge so that he would be ineligible to run for Congress in Texas, rather than withdrawing his candidacy (which would have spelled the end for the Republican line on the TX-22 ballot). Texas Dems didn't take this sitting down, and filed a lawsuit to block the local GOP from scrubbing DeLay's name from the ballot. The conventional wisdom was that this was a stall tactic designed to irritate the local Republican cabal and prevent them from naming a challenger and raising funds for a few more precious weeks. However, based on the commentary of U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, presiding over the case, it looks like there's a strong chance that DeLay may be forced to keep his name on the ballot (or withdraw it at his discretion). From the Houston Chronicle:

A federal judge hearing a ballot dispute Monday involving former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said he thinks that DeLay withdrew from the November election, indicating potential trouble for Republicans who want to name a replacement candidate.

"He is not going to participate in the election and he withdrew," said U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, who did not issue an official ruling after a daylong trial regarding DeLay's status as the GOP nominee for the 22nd Congressional District.

Jim Bopp, a lawyer for the Republican Party of Texas, disagreed, telling Sparks "there's been no withdrawal." Bopp said that instead, DeLay moved to Virginia, making him ineligible and triggering a state law that allows the party to select a new nominee.

Sparks also said that if political parties are allowed to replace primary election winners with more popular candidates, "the abuse would be incredible."

"It can happen in every race in this state for every office," Sparks said. The Republican judge said a ruling could come as early as next week.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

In his comments to lawyers, Sparks questioned whether a ruling for the Republicans might set a precedent allowing weakened candidates from both parties taking up short-term residency in other states so that a more formidable campaigner could be installed late in the game.


Sparks said he would review the histories of any similar cases and closely study the language in the Constitution before handing down his ruling. But he also said there was little doubt that DeLay had intended to withdraw from the race and that GOP leaders were hoping for a stronger candidate in the fall.

"Sometimes, you better watch out what you ask for," he told the GOP lawyer.

Sparks doesn't seem to be buying the spin that DeLay didn't withdraw. This could turn out to be a colossal embarrassment for national and state Republicans, and would have our homeboy, Nick Lampson, sitting mighty pretty.

(Hat-tip to Jesselee.)

Posted at 12:49 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Texas | Technorati

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Sparks is a fair judge. He was appointed by a Republican, but I don't think it takes much to cut through DeLays BS.

Posted by: Karl-T [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 28, 2006 02:05 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Words cannot express how much it delights me that this stern-sounding judge is a Republican.

So are Steve Stockman and Nick Lampson working themselves to the bone, to exploit the suspension? I'm not hearing much about either campaign. I hope there's more activity inside the district. All this shell-game stuff is exciting, but an unused opportunity does little good.

Posted by: Christopher Walker [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 28, 2006 10:34 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Is there much chance that we could squeak in a new Democratic district in south Texas before the November elections?

The other Court ruling on the matter scares me, citing that new district lines can be drawn at the convenience of the majority. I know different states have different laws, but what this boils down is that any point if Republicans take over statehouses and Legislatures in a given state, they'll likely have the option to redraw district lines to their favor. We got screwed in Michigan and Pennsylvania with nasty GOP-drawn district lines in 2001. And even if the Dems are able to draw a friendlier map in 2011, if the GOP attains majorities in 2013, the maps can be undone. I'm not liking that at all.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 28, 2006 12:07 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Just curious...Can someone explain why this is in federal court? Isn't this case just a matter of enforcing the Texas election code provisions? I'm sure there must be a jurisdictional hook somewhere, but it's not obvious.

Posted by: GlennNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 28, 2006 02:28 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Politics1 is reporting that Steve Stockman, somewhat amazingly, did not file enough signatures to get on the November ballot as an Independent.


I had been assuming that with three names on the ballot Stockman would draw almost exclusively from DeLay (or a substitute GOP candidate). Voters who wanted to vote for a Republican, but who didn't know the sub (or didn't feel comfortable any longer voting for DeLay if he's still on the November ballot) should have found Stockman a reasonable compromise. He's qualified, and he's a Republican. I've assumed all along, though, that he couldn't win as an Independent.

If there are only 2 names on the ballot, will that benefit Nick Lampson? Or will rank-and-file Republicans, with no 3rd choice to pick instead, vote for the Republican on the ballot?

Posted by: Christopher Walker [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 29, 2006 02:38 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment