April 05, 2006
Day Three Morning DeLay Roundup

Let's get this roundup started...

The top Chron story is about GOP disarray in the wake of DeLay's sudden departure, but the most interesting information comes at the end when the talk turns to a special election.

[Texas Republican Chair Tina] Benkiser said she believes it is important to hold a special election before November.

"If I was in Congressional District 22, I would want to be represented in Congress," Benkiser said.

But some local Republicans believe it would be better to leave the special election until November. For one, they argue, a simultaneous general and special election would allow Republicans to rally around the party-selected nominee.

They say this would boost the GOP candidates' strength in the special election, which will be open to anyone regardless of party affiliation.

Fort Bend County Party Chair Eric Thode says the party should avoid a "freak show" special election.

"The special election is irrelevant," he said. "Why have a special election for someone to hold office for three months, who may or may not be on the ballot on November? There is not going to be any controversial vote (in Congress) between August and December of an election year."

GOP consultant Allen Blakemore said a special election is "neither warranted nor necessary."

"It doesn't matter. Their service in the interim is of no value," he said. "It is of no importance. It is not a matter of fairness and representation, it is a matter of economics."

Harris County Republican Party Chair Jared Woodfill agreed that the cost to hold a special election isn't justified.

"At this point, my position is that we should go forward with getting a nominee and then allow the voters to decide in November who should represent that district," Woodfill said. "That's an appropriate time for the decision to made."

Craig Murphy, a Republican consultant from Arlington who has advised U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, said holding the election in November makes sense for several reasons.

Murphy said a quick special election would give Lampson a financial advantage over the Republican, possibly allowing him to win and thus run in November as the incumbent. A special election also could divide Republicans at a time when they should unite against Lampson.

Murphy said Lampson has spent months raising money by pounding DeLay over the lobby scandals. With DeLay out of the picture, Murphy said, Lampson won't be able to pitch his fund-raising to national Democratic enmity toward DeLay.

The biggest advantage to winning the special and the general election, Murphy said, is that new representative would have a seniority edge over other members of the freshman class of 2007.

You can have a special election in November, and the same majority-needed rule would apply. The reason why it would be a special election is that whoever wins would be sworn in immediately to fill the still-remaining time of DeLay's unexpired term. That's the seniority edge that Murphy is talking about. Amazing how quickly a consensus was formed on this, no? It's the best of all worlds from a Republican perspective - maximize the time that the Chosen One gets to campaign, and minimize the impact of Steve Stockman and Bob Smither.

Still, my previously expressed doubts about unity are as before, and again I'm amused by how blithely Nick Lampson's fundraising is being dismissed. I'm telling you, this is still DeLay's seat, and people are still going to be motivated to give to help Lampson and the Democrats take it. Wave that off at your own risk.

Onward. The Chron politics blog rounds up some local reactions. This is my favorite, from a fellow on the right-hand side of the aisle:

Tom Delay (sic) wasn't guilty of anything except perhaps poor associations. Some people that worked for him did some improper things and it cost him his job.

Like I said yesterday, it's a darned good thing Tom DeLay isn't a member of Houston's City Council, or he'd really be in trouble. Tom Kirkendall has a much clearer reaction to DeLay's travails.

The National Journal Blogometer has a big roundup of blog reactions from across the country.

Let's talk electoral law again. The Lone Star Project dives into special election possibilities.

The Governor’s Special Election Options

Under Section 204.021 and Section 203.004 of the Texas Election Code, the Governor could:

* Call a special election for the next uniform election day - May 13 or the November general election date (Sec 41.001 (a)) - at least 36 days after the election is ordered
* Declare an emergency and call the election for a Tuesday or Saturday that falls between the 36th and the 50th day after the election is ordered, (Sec 41.0011) which he cannot do until DeLay formally steps down and he is officially notified of a vacancy in office.

This indicates:

* Initial reports that a special election may be held on May 13 would require DeLay to formally resign and vacate his position by this Friday April 7, 2006, to meet the 36 day window, which conflicts with reports that he plans to serve for two more months.
* The Governor would almost certainly declare an emergency when DeLay formally vacates his seat, setting up a summer special election, meaning Texas taxpayers will have to foot the bill for another costly special election courtesy of Tom DeLay’s cowardly post-primary resignation.

Note that even if the special is held alongside the general in November, the public will almost certainly get stuck with the tab for a runoff afterwards. In any event, none of this can happen until DeLay formally establishes his residency in Virginia and thus makes himself ineligible to run for Congress in Texas. Anyone remember when DeLay said this:

"It's just so contrary to what Texas is all about, to turn tail and run and not fight for what you believe in."

That was from May 14, 2003, when 51 Democratic state reps broke quorum by going to Ardmore, OK, to try and thwart DeLay's ramrodding of a new Congressional map. How times have changed, no?

Oh, Tom, by the way: When you do establish yourself as a resident of the Commonwealth, be sure you get yourself one of these. Makes you miss Texas already, doesn't it?

Pesky Apostrophe does not normally blog about politics, but I laughed at this:

When politicians resign their posts, I expect indictments and really damning evidence of wrong-doing to surface within weeks. That way, when the newspapers report it they can say ’former Republican Congressman Tom DeLay’ and that gives the Republican party a little distance between an arrest and their party. I’ve lost count how many times that has happened over the last six years within the GOP and within the Bush administration. No doubt, DeLay will blame it all on roving bands of liberal Democrat gay ninjas sneaking into his bedroom at night, hypnotizing him, and clandestinely forcing him to do their evil, evil will.

You have to admit, the gay ninja theory would explain a lot. Link via the also normally apolitical Christine. And speaking on behalf of evil liberals everywhere, Mike declines to take the credit for DeLay's skedaddling.

Some people have been asking if DeLay can change his residency to another state while he's out on bond for the charges in Austin. TPMMuckraker has looked at the bond and says yes he can - there's no restriction on where he lives, as long as he appears in court as required. They've got a lot more at the site, so start at the top and keep scrolling.

ReddHedd and South Texas Chisme speculate that the feds may try to squeeze DeLay by putting pressure on his wife and daughter for all the money they've been making from his connections. Former opponent Mike Fjetland thinks the Tony Rudy plea is what caused DeLay to drop out.

State Rep. Charlie Howard, whom Fred calls DeLay's tag team partner, has joined the ranks of challengers for the GOP nomination, but State Sen. Kyle Janek is staying put. Sorry, Eileen.

DeLayVsWorld makes the case that Nick Lampson is the big loser in all this. You already know my opinion on that subject. Bryan gives us an example of Lampson campaigning before DeLay's departure. I say you underestimate him at your own risk.

Vince speculates on the case for Steve Stockman. I have no idea where that RedState dude got the figure that CD09 was "5-1 Democratic" in 1994, but that's just crazy talk. For one thing, Stockman had run against then-Congressman Jack Brooks in 1992, and lost by a respectable 53.6-43.5 margin. Looking at county data for Galveston (slight majority Dem) and Jefferson (about 60-40 Dem), I'm calling BS right here. About 75% of Stockman's 10,000-vote margin of victory came in a small piece of Harris County. Don't take my word for it - go to the historical elections returns page and look for yourself.

That ought to hold you for now. More later as I find 'em.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 05, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

While he's picking up his tax forms he could get one of these, too: SP-248 Application for Concealed Handgun Permit. And as far as I read the rules, only violent felons are prohibited guns in VA.

Maybe that's why he's moving...

Posted by: Christof Spieler on April 5, 2006 7:47 AM

Geez. As if I didn't have enough reason to dislike DeLay already, now we have to deal with the question of a special election and how much that's going to cost and when it'll be held, if at all.

Dear Eric Thode: I think you're going to get a freak show no matter what. Sorry. Just make sure Gary Coleman hasn't moved into the district, OK?

Posted by: Sue on April 5, 2006 8:07 AM

Seems to me this game-playing by the Republicans, at the voters' and tax-payers' expense, is a Godsend of an issue for Lampson. More corrupt actions by Republicans, against the public interest. He ought to get out there with a position -- special right now so there can be representation, or not special at all, given cost etc.

Posted by: David in NY on April 5, 2006 8:20 AM

Christof - Unfortunately for DeLay, he may be out of luck on that score:

One note as DeLay prepares to take up legal residence at his condominium in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Va. He's probably out of luck on any bid to carry a concealed handgun. Just as in Texas, where DeLay has sought to fight the ban on indictees packing heat, the Old Dominion doesn't allow licenses for anyone facing a felony charge, said Commonwealth's Attorney S. Randolph Sengel.

"I think that would apply in this case," Sengel said, and "preclude him from being issued a permit."

Whew, says one Texan who lives in Virginia.

Poor Tommy.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 5, 2006 9:40 AM

By the way - PeskyApostrophe posts about politics all the time - she is in Philly though, so her postings aren't normally so Houston specific. I get most of my political news from her and you. (Well, and the media. But I like your take on it better.)

Posted by: Christine on April 5, 2006 10:04 AM

In an alternate reality where the GOP really cared about the best interests of the citizens of TX-22, they would

1. Ask Perry to call a special election as soon as legally allowed; and

2. Agree to nominate the top GOP vote-getter in the special election for November.

But of course, in our real reality that's not what the GOP is all about, hence these games, where TX-22 may end up electing a Congressman to serve a term of about a month. Geez.

Posted by: Mathwiz on April 7, 2006 3:20 PM