Texas congressman Tom DeLay won the Republican primary election to re-run for his seat in congress despite his political troubles, but that was before he was actually indicted on criminal charges. Since his indictment he's resigned from congress and, of course, withdrawn his bid to keep the seat. At least, he's tried to withdraw. The Texas Democrats have other ideas:
Barring catastrophic illness or other extreme circumstance, there is no legal way to replace Delay, Democratic Party attorney Chadd Dunn told a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "It's a high bar, the Republican party has to get over," Dunn said.
So far, judges have supported the Democrats' stand, and the Republicans are now trying the argument that Mr DeLay has "moved to Virginia." But no, say the Democrats, his wife still lives in Texas and it's anyone's guess where he'll be living, come election time. A judge agrees:
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said that if he adopted the Republicans' argument, then either political party could change candidates after a primary election merely by declaring a candidate ineligible based on a move. "This would be a serious abuse of the election system and a fraud on the voters, which the court will not condone," wrote Sparks, a Democrat appointed by Republican former President George Bush.
It seems to me that the only fraud perpetrated on the voters here was done by Mr DeLay himself, and that the voters are ill served by an attempt to prevent the Republicans from presenting them with a proper candidate. There are three months, still, for a replacement to get on the ballot and campaign, and the Houston constituents are owed that, so that they may have a real choice when they go to the polls in November.
I'd like to see the Democrats get that seat as much as anyone would. But it's not right to get it by standing on a legal technicality, and getting shoe prints on the voters in the process. Give them a choice, and then give them a reason to choose the Democrat.
Update, 8 August: Republicans Lose Their Bid to Drop DeLay From Texas Ballot
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused yesterday to block an appeals court ruling to keep former congressman Tom DeLay as the Republican candidate on the ballot, all but ensuring that the former House majority leader will stand for election in November for his suburban Houston district.It's interesting that it was Scalia. Anyway, it's good for the Democrats, but bad for the voters.