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July 9, 2006
This Race Brought To You By Texas Democrats

Thanks to an ill-considered lawsuit by Texas Democrats, Tom DeLay may wind up running for office to regain the seat he just resigned in Congress:

A source close to the ex-Congressman tells TIME that DeLay is planning an aggressive campaign to retake the House seat he quit in June if an appeals court lets stand a ruling by a federal judge last week that his name must stay on November's ballot—even though he has moved to Virginia.

"If it isn't overturned, Katy bar the door!" says a G.O.P. official. "Guess he'll have to fire up the engines on the campaign and let 'er rip."

The Democrats sued to keep DeLay's name on the Texas ballot after his resignation, reversing the stance they took with Frank Lautenberg after Robert Torricelli had to resign for ethics violations. Back then, in 2002, the Democrats sued to get Torricelli's name off the ballot, claiming that refusing to allow Lautenberg to replace the Torch on the ballot stripped New Jersey voters of a real choice in the election. Their argument of the reverse in Texas puts them in the cynical position of claiming that democracy has less value in Texas than the Garden State -- or just revealing themselves as hypocrites.

It may cost them this time. No one expected DeLay to contest for the seat again; the Democrats just assumed that he would fade away, allowing them to take the seat cheaply. However, the Hammer has rarely faded away on any issue or challenge, and the crass opportunistic tactic that the Democrats used in Texas seems to have fired him up for battle once more. Instead of facing an unknown Republican in the race, Nick Lampson will have to take on one of Texas' most successful politicians, coming off of a vindicating win at the Supreme Court for his redistricting efforts.

If the Democrats lose this seat, they have no one to blame but themselves. They had an opportunity to have a rookie go up against a former Congressman in a race that may have allowed them a high-profile gain. Now they have reinvigorated DeLay into action, and even worse, drafted him themselves back into the race. After all, it will be difficult to argue that he represents a "culture of corruption" when they sued to ensure that he ran again. If DeLay truly is that bad, why did they go to court to force Texans to consider him for the job?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 9, 2006 4:59 PM

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