Friday, August 04, 2006

Texas Democrats keep Tom DeLay on the ballot -- with the help of the Fifth Circuit

By Nancy Jane Moore

In a suit filed by the Texas Democratic Party, the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the Texas Republicans can't replace Tom DeLay as a candidate for Congress.

That's right: The Democrats sued to make sure Republican DeLay, who has retired from Congress, stays on the ballot, especially since he is under indictment for money laundering and has been tired to Jack Abramoff. The Democratic candidate, former Congressman Nick Lampson, would like nothing better than to run against DeLay, who engineered the Texas redistricting that cost Lampson his seat.

This is for DeLay's old seat, the one he held from 1984 until last June. He won the Republican primary for it back in March, but then decided in to retire from Congress. He hasn't been doing any campaigning. Without another candidate on the ballot, the Republicans haven't been able to do any campaigning either.

According to The Washington Post, DeLay has claimed his Northern Virginia home as his residence, even though his wife remains in Sugar Land, Texas. However, the Fifth Circuit said the Constitution requires that a candidate reside in the district on election day and said it was not possible to say where DeLay would be living on the first Tuesday in November.

The three judges on the Fifth Circuit panel included two judges appointed by Clinton and one by the current Bush. However, the ruling was unanimous. The federal district judge who first heard the case -- and also ruled that DeLay had to stay on the ballot -- was appointed by Bush Sr.

The New York Times reported:
In Washington, Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said he was "mostly shocked" at the ruling "because Tom DeLay is usually so good at finding a way around the law."
This whole delicious mess is of DeLay's own making -- had he pulled out of the Republican primary, his party would have a candidate who wasn't tied to ethics scandals. But in March he was determined to hang on.

And the district isn't as conservative as it used to be. DeLay was so confident in his power that he moved some of the strong conservative precincts into nearby districts to make them more Republican.

Tom DeLay is a walking definition of hubris. And the chickens are coming home to roost.