So 'the Hammer' is gone.
He is citing poll numbers in his upcoming re-election campaign. That is a hoot-- DeLay saying that he is making a decision to quit based on polls. In April, no less. Imagine that. The man who intimidated friend and foe alike, bent the rules to get what he wanted and punished any who might dare step out of line, and thought ethics were for everyone else but him, is quitting because he is afraid he might lose an election. If you believe that, I've got a house to sell you in New Orleans.
My most profound observation is that by his hold on power being pried off one finger at a time, he has hurt his supporters, friends and party much more than if he had simply done the honorable thing and announced last year that he was retiring.
First, it was the indictment last year. The fawning syncophants of the right droned on about how this was politically motivated, and how the Abramoff scandal was nothing, just minor trouble that would soon blow over.
Then DeLay stepped 'aside' from his post as majority leader. Not down, mind you, just aside. The first thing that happened is that all the pundits who claimed that there was 'nothing' there shone forth as the fools they were. Powerful leaders don't yield their jobs over 'nothing.'
Then a few months later, he had to permanently step aside. But by then, he was no longer able to install his protege, Roy Blunt of Missouri (who was next in line in the leadership and had replaced him without question when he first stepped aside) as majority leader. Part of it was that by then Blunt had been seriously examined and was found to be covered with the stench of scandal himself, but that wasn't all of it. It was also that DeLay had had another finger pried off the wheel of power, and the House Republicans weren't as afraid of him anymore as they were of the voters if DeLay or Blunt remained as their leader.
So then DeLay ran an aggressive primary campaign to defeat three other Republicans in the primary. That was just about a month ago, but now he is quitting. What this does is pretty much hand the seat to former Congressman Nick Lampson. It is true that DeLay had generously absorbed some Democrats into the district (as well as 1/4 of Lampson's old district) when he 'DeLaymandered the lines-- he figured at the time that as the Majority Leader he could win anyway. This would normally be a swing, maybe marginally Republican district, but because DeLay waited until now to quit, even if the Republicans can recruit a respectable candidate, Lampson has such a huge lead in fundraising (a lot of money came to his campaign when it looked like he was running against DeLay), organization and name recognition, that it is hard to imagine any scenario in which he would lose. And that in itself will probably prevent any high profile Republicans from seeking the seat. Had DeLay quit much earlier, his party would have a chance to retain his seat, but now it is an all-but-sure Democratic pickup.
Even to the end, Tom DeLay was a disaster, especially to his supporters.