Tuesday, August 08, 2006

DeLay Shenanigans Come Back To Bite GOP

Many Republicans admired former House Majority Leader Tom Delay's political gamesmanship in successfully engineering a redrawing of the Texas congressional map by the state legislature in between censuses. His gerrymandering efforts were successful in adding six new congressmen to the Texas GOP delegation and helped solidify his hold on the Majority Leader position. But that success has taken quite a bad turn for DeLay.

The Travis County, Texas prosecutor first indicted DeLay late last year for alleged illegal fundraising activities associated with his redistricting project, forcing him to step down as Majority Leader under House rules. He then successfully sought re-nomination to his seat in March under the cloud of the Texas indictment and growing evidence of ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He then dropped his bid for re-election in June as polls began showing him likely to lose to his Democrat opponent, and that's where Terre Haute attorney Jim Bopp came into play.

Republicans sought to place another candidate on the ballot in place of DeLay, but were rebuffed first by election authorities and then by the courts. Bopp sought relief from the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the lower court rulings. Justice Scalia turned down Bopp's request. DeLay announced that he would remove his name from the ballot to allow Texas Republicans to launch a write-in campaign in a last-ditch attempt to save the seat. The bottom line is that the Democrats will in all likelihood pick up what had been a safe Republican seat this fall. They need only 15 seats to recapture control of the House of Representatives.

Ironically, Bopp successfully argued and won a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this year challenging the constitutionality of DeLay's Texas redistricting plan. You could say that was a pyrrhic victory for DeLay. Can you imagine what people will be saying if DeLay's seat is enough to give control of the House to the Democrats after this year's congressional elections?

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