Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Without DeLay

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 Since his indictment he's resigned from congress and, of course, withdrawn his bid to keep the seat.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.


Anonymous said...

Hardly unfair to the voters at all.
The republicans voted for this guy fair and square in a primary election.Not that it matters, but most of the allegations were already out there. By your logic primary results should be "a suggestion" subject to review in the party's smoke filled room. Do you think DeLay's team would cut an inch of slack if the shoe was on the other foot?

Barry Leiba said...

Mm, good point. I hadn't considered that the fact that the voters knew about most of this stuff at primary time would make a difference, but I think you're right that it does: they knew what they were getting, and chose anyway.

Still, I think the voters would be best served by a replacement ? I'm not so cynical as to think that all politicians, or even all Texas Republicans, are as crooked and vile as Mr Delay.

But as you point out, the way to decide it is not in the proverbial smoke-filled room, but in the courts, and the courts have spoken. And the fact that Justice Scalia was the one to close the door makes the situation clear.

(And for what it's worth, I agree that if the situation were reversed the Republicans would treat the Democrats no better. I don't think that's a reason to decide one way or the other.)

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of courts- they're pretty politicized themselves, but in this case the law must be cut and dried, and the stakes aren't high enough for Scalia to lose any more of his already depleted credibility over.

It would seem more unfair if these were last minute revelations, but then again, how do you decide when it's acceptable to nullify an elected choice, and who makes the decision?

While the law doesn't always provide the "fairest" outcome, I think the alternative would be much worse.

TheSarc said...

New Article: Texas Republicans plan to vote for Delay, despite his intention not to run