Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DeLay Quits. Democrat will win seat.

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.


Karen said...

Sure hope this is the beginning of the end for the rethug party, at least into the 2006 and 2008 election years.


What I don't understand is how Frist thinks he can run for anything since his HCA stock sale.
And, btw, they threw Martha Stewart in jail for that, but then, she DID give money to the Dem party!

dorsano said...

What this does is pretty much hand the seat to former Congressman Nick Lampson.

I'm not so sure about that, Eli. The odds were good that DeLay would lose but it's hard to believe, even with the new boundries, that the GOP will the seat.

I think it all depends on what kind of message the voters want to send -

if they decide to reject the national GOP agenda and leadership then the seat could change hands -

if they're simply fed up with DeLay then the job is tougher

Eli Blake said...


This district is not so Republican as most in Texas. When DeLay drew the district, he figured he was safe so he absorbed quite a few Democratic areas into his own district (so that last time he won by a less than overwhelming margin by an unknown, underfinanced opponent). Lampson was in Congress for long enough that he knows how to run a campaign, has a solid core of support from the quarter of the district that he used to represent and win big in, and has a full campaign up and running. The GOP doesn't even have a candidate. And if there is a special election, then Lampson will certainly run for the Democrats and have the advantages of incumbency that much sooner.

To be honest, DeLay was the best shot the Republicans had at retaining the district, and with him gone, I would only ask you who the Republicans would be able to come up with that would be able to assemble a campaign that would even be remotely competitive, let alone win.

EAPrez said...

While this was something for all of us to celebrate - I must say I am still troubled by my own party. Where the hell are they? For the first time I am seriously considering not voting. Democrats have to do something other than wait for Republicans to implode. They won't get my vote by default - that is not leadership and this country is hungry for a leader right now. I will not send them money nor will I register people to vote as I have in years past because I won't encourage them to vote for the party in power and I have nothing to say about the Dems other than they are not Republicans!!!!!!!!!! Something is wrong - they ALL need to go...our team as well as their team. We need new people in there - people like us. Not the constant parade of rich boys. I am very depressed about the political climate right now.

dorsano said...

Democrats have to do something other than wait for Republicans to implode.

That's true of course - and there's more than ample evidence available to wonder if they will step up and talk straight about the changes that need to be made to put the country on the right track

but they haven't started campaigning yet so I'm willing to wait and see.

Something has to be done with health care - employer sponsored health care will implode soon and the Medicare HI trust fund is running a 70 year actuarial deficit of 3% of payroll - anyone who talks about delivering "universal health care" without addressing cost containment is pandering and should be put on the spot.

Elizabeth Rogers said...

Well even if the DCCC and DSCC refuses to step up, the November Victory candidates have already started work on the platform they want. We are working with PDA as well.

Eli Blake said...


I can understand why you would feel that way. There is no question that a lot of Democratic officeholders have been much too timid about standing up against Republican programs. Not having a plan did work on one instance though-- stopping the Bush Social Security privatization plan. Had Democrats offered an alternative at that time, Republicans were ready to pounce and make it all about a referendum of 'our plan' or 'their plan' and by having a majority in Congress, foist the Bush plan on us. By playing rope-a-dope, Democrats came out on top there and the Bush plan sank under its own weight. That said, I've bemoaned the fact that as a precinct committeeman, I don't have a short statement of what the Democrats are for that I could put on a business card and hand out to every voter in my precinct. I'm sick of hearing that we 'don't stand for anything,' but to not vote would be a horrible mistake.

In 2000, a lot of progressives thought that an Al Gore Presidency would be a continuation of the Clinton years (mediocrity at its finest) and either didn't vote, voted for Nader or otherwise failed to support Gore. So, Bush was able to steal the election. Now, had Gore won (based on 1: the plans he outlined during the campaign and 2: his very early opposition to Iraq, even months before the actual war started) it is safe to say that things would be very much better today than they are.

Also, as Elizabeth points out, some plans are in the works, and by November I strongly suspect that we will (based on information I also have), have a clearly stated and defined agenda. But April is not a good time to roll it out. September, I would guess.

The way to ensure that elected Democrats follow progressive paths is to GET involved. Make sure that progressives running in primary elections are supported, run for something yourself if you want to,(precinct committeeperson is a good place to begin) and once they are elected, maintain contact. If you've worked to get them elected, they will listen to you. I once had a legislative candidate in New Mexico who I donated $25 to when I met him at a restaurant give me his home number after he won the election and when I called him he got right on my concern. My school board member knows that I am active locally in political matters, and that I pay attention to what is going on, so he acts promptly on concerns when I call him. I'd expect the same from my state rep if he wasn't a Republican.

So paradoxically, rather than getting uninvolved when you feel this way, the solution is to get MORE involved.

Eli Blake said...


Thanks. Now I can quit bugging you ;)

Anonymous said...

Eaprez, you raise an issue which I brought up many times in personal conversations during the 2004 election cycle. I would ask individual Democrats to describe what a Democrat was without saying "We're not Republicans". Only one Democrat managed to go as long as 10 seconds without saying that, and he didn't make it to 20 seconds. While running against the screwupsof your opponents does work occasionally (e.g. Clinton 1992) when you're trying to make a fundamental change in the direction of our government and/or our country not having an identifiable set of beliefs and/or programs to run on is a real handicap.

That said, the Democrats do appear to be preparing a list of core principles on which to run this year, and they do seem to be taking directions that I, a lifelong independent who tilts more right than left on economic issues, could actually support. If what actually emerges is close to what's being leaqked this could form the basis for a real shift in the political basis in this country.

Anonymous said...

There's already another Republican running in this race, albeit as an independent. Steve Stockman was also a congresscritter, although I believe he represented a district far from Houston. In recent polls he was pulling about half of the support that DeLay was getting, and the two combined were getting about the same support that Lampson was getting. I know little about Stockman's positions, or whether he is a Republican running as an independent or is really an "ex-Republican" as this site calls him, but he may be an option for the Republicans in that district.

Also, since independents still have another month to file in Texas (until May 11) it's possible that Stockman could drop his campaign altogether if the Republicans choose a DeLay replacement who isn't repugnant to him.

Either of these outcomes could end the fracturing on the Republican side and make Lampson's road to election significantly more difficult.