Tom DeLay is claiming that he won a 'victory' last night in the Texas district 22 Republican primary.
Of course, for an incumbent, who just a few weeks ago held the second most powerful office in the House of Representatives, to have to claim that a win in a Republican primary was a 'victory' is already a statement in and of itself.
Now, let's analyze this 'victory.' The numbers are linked here.
To begin with, DeLay got 62% of the vote against three opponents-- two completely unknown and Tom Campbell, who served in the Bush (I) administration and helped broker the settlement of the Exxon Valdez spill, but had nothing like the name recognition of DeLay. In fact, DeLay got nearly 67% of those who voted early, when his opponents had even less time to let anyone know who they were, but on election day, he had dropped down to 59% of the vote (and that's of those who actually voted; I heard, but could not find numbers to back up, that enough people didn't vote at all in this election that if they were counted his percentage would have dropped to 55%, a number which sounds plausible). He should be thankful that the primary is held in March, a short enough time span since his indictment, resignation as Majority leader and revelations about Abramoff, that no one was able to put together a serious challenge-- especially since DeLay's campaign, as always, was exceptionally well financed.
Now, let's consider who votes in a Republican primary. Pretty much the party's faithful. The die hard Republicans, who would never vote for a Democrat. Probably those least likely to ever consider voting against an incumbent Republican. This might be considered to represent his 'base,' those who will stand by him through thick and thin. The Republican primary does not measure how well he would do against a Democrat, since only committed Republicans vote in their primary. But even in this situation, he couldn't, as the incumbent, even get three out of five votes from active members of his own party on election day. 59% was all-- not very good for an incumbent of any party in a primary without a high level opponent. Further, there are signs that the Republicans who abandoned him may not be ready to move back into the house yet. Exhibit number 1: Tom Campbell's campaign website (at least as it appeared when I post this comment). You know, if you ever look at these things, that the day after the election, most candidates put up the obligatory message of congratulations to the winner, and pledge and urge their supporters to come together behind the winner, and so on and so on. This is even more true in a primary election. Well, normally that is true. But not here. Campbell's website (at least as of right now, over 24 hours since the last vote was counted) has no message of congratulations, and in fact still displays first and foremost a letter that Tom Campbell wrote criticizing Tom DeLay for his ethical lapses. Obviously, DeLay still has a lot of work to do just to convince his own party to get completely behind him.
However, in November he isn't running in a Republican primary. He is running against Nick Lampson, a former congressman who was 'DeLaymandered' out of a district two years ago (and ran and lost in a heavily Republican district.) It seems that one quirk of 'DeLaymandering' caught Lampson's eye-- when drawing the new districts, DeLay was very generous to other Republicans. Maybe too generous, in fact. Perhaps believing that he was personally invulnerable as the Majority Leader, DeLay absorbed a high number of Democrats into his district (including those in what was 20% of Lampson's old district). So, one of the true ironies-- DeLay is running in a district that due to his own district lines, may be the only competitive district in all of Texas. And unlike DeLay's unknown opponent from two years ago, who held DeLay to a lackluster showing in the district, Lampson knows how to run, how to win and how to do all the things needed to pull together a winning campaign, things like fundraising and assembling a quality campaign staff.
I suspect that come January, Tom DeLay won't need all those corporate flights anymore.