July 07, 2006
If you must blame someone, blame DeLay

I can't blame Republican officials for being upset with the ruling from Judge Sparks yesterday, but some of them are in need of a serious reality check. Look at what is being said by some of them:

Republican lawyer James Bopp Jr. described Sparks' ruling as a disaster for democracy. Bopp said it will cause election "chaos" if political parties have to wait until Election Day to determine whether a candidate is eligible to run.

"That would mean frivolous candidates, anybody could get on the federal ballot and then we just sort it out after the election, which would make Bush v. Gore look like a summer picnic," Bopp said, referring to the disputed 2000 presidential election.

[State GOP Chair Tina] Benkiser said the voters of the 22nd District deserve to have a "choice of candidates" on the ballot who are ready to serve them in Congress. She said the Democrats filed the lawsuit as part of a "desperate plan" to help Lampson win and to raise money from "Hollywood liberals."

"Democrats have had to turn to election by litigation because they know that as long as there is a Republican on the ballot in CD 22, Republicans will keep the congressional seat," she said in a statement.

And from the Galveston News:

Robin Armstrong, a Dickinson resident and vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, chastised Democrats for filing the lawsuit in the first place.

"Democrats are trying to win an election through litigation," he said. "It would be nice to have a candidate on the ballot and to have an election.

"The Democrats have not won elections in Texas so they are trying to win through the court system."

And let's not forget Fort Bend County GOP Chair Gary Gillen yesterday:

"I think it's a sad day for the voters of the 22nd district of Texas," said Gary Gillen, the chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County, which is one of the four counties in that district. "I think [the ruling] denies the voters the opportunity to select the candidate they want to vote for."

What all of this conveniently forgets is that the voters of the 22nd district already had an opportunity to select their preferred Republican candidate. They picked Tom DeLay, with 62% of the vote, in March. All Judge Sparks has done is say that this result should be respected. What exactly is the problem with that?

It's really rich to see Gary Gillen complain about disenfranchising anyone. He's busy pushing his candidate in the Gang of Four selection process, and back in April when a special election to fill the remainder of DeLay's term was being pushed by Nick Lampson, Gillen called the idea "a circus because a special election is open to everyone." That's some kind of respect for the wishes of the voters you've got there, Gary. Same for James Bopp, who's quaking with fear over the prospect of "frivolous candidates". Does that mean you'd oppose any effort to redraw CD22 as part of the SCOTUS-ordered fix to CD23, which would allow DeLay to drop off with no fuss, James? If so, please state that for the record.

It's simple, folks. The person who has done the most, really, all, to make a mockery of the electoral process is Tom DeLay. The Chron's editorial sums it up perfectly.

Judge Sparks' ruling is also well-grounded in the law and upholds good public policy. DeLay waged a vigorous primary campaign, crushing three Republican challengers. If he was not committed to the race, he should have allowed voters to make another choice.

This case was decided on a constitutional question: Was DeLay ineligible to run for Congress because he had moved his official residence to Virginia? The judge said no. He noted that DeLay's wife still lives in the couple's Sugar Land home and that DeLay testified he had moved no personal effects from his old residence to his new residence. Nothing, in other words, had changed.

In fact, a Chronicle reporter found DeLay at home in Sugar Land Thursday. DeLay said he didn't grant interviews "at my house."

Apart from the residency requirements of the U.S. Constitution, Texas has a good law that prevents parties from pressuring weak primary winners to withdraw in favor of a stronger candidate. If parties could do that, there would be little point in troubling the voters with primary elections.

DeLay could have chosen not to run again in the primary. (You may recall there were reports way back when he first announced his resignation that he planned to leave Congress before the primary took place, which was later supplemented by a story in Texas Monthly that the Dems cited in their suit.) He could have chosen to stand his ground and fight against Nick Lampson, even though there was a good chance he'd lose. Hell, he could have acted like someone who really was moving out of state - like, say, putting his house in Sugar Land on the market. Any of these things would or at least might have prevented the fix that the GOP now finds itself in. But DeLay had neither the guts nor the integrity to do any of them. The resulting mess is entirely of his own making. You want to be mad about the voters getting screwed, aim that anger at the guy who lubed them up: Tom DeLay.

"We're not going to stop campaigning because Republicans can't get their act together," said Lampson campaign manger Mike Malaise. "Tom DeLay is their curse, not ours. The people of this district have been put in this position because Tom DeLay has tried to dupe and evade them all."

Damn straight.

Enough of this. On other matters, Mark looks at the makeup of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will surely get this case next, and Greg has some YouTube video of Lampson campaign ads. Finally, there's still time to plan a trip to Fort Bend to celebrate the great cosmic karma of this case. I'll see you there tonight.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 07, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

I really had hoped to catch up with you tonight at the celebration in Sugar Land. I heard there was over 100 people jammed onto the patio at Beck's. I had been looking forward to it, but my woman infected me with an insanely annoying cold.

It's a bad one, but by the time I'm better, we probably still won't have an opponent here in 22.

Which is fine by me.

Posted by: Mark on July 7, 2006 11:43 PM

Kuff - you nailed it precisely. Republicans are a bunch of cry-babies, upset that their latest slimey attempt to manipulate the political system to their advantage didn't quite work out the way they intended.

Bring on Tom DeLay ! (even if his daughter says he is ineligible to serve)

Posted by: Dennis on July 8, 2006 6:50 AM

They picked Tom DeLay, with 62% of the vote, in March. All Judge Sparks has done is say that this result should be respected. What exactly is the problem with that?

Goodness, Charles, you were MUCH more understanding when Sen. Torricelli disregarded campaign laws designed to discourage the replacement of unpopular candidates after a certain time simply because they were unpopular candidates. Surely you haven't forgotten the rationale behind your tolerance back then?

Of course, Torch was a D and DeLay is an R, so I guess that explains your less tolerant view on this one. :)

Posted by: kevin whited on July 8, 2006 10:38 AM

Changing the subject - nicely done, Kevin. Since you're such an expert on New Jersey law, why don't you explain the differences between the two cases?

Since you didn't bother searching my archives to verify that I'd even mentioned the Torricelli case back in 2002, I'll remind you that the decision of the NJ Supreme Court to allow the replacement was unanimous, and of the seven justices who rendered it, two were Republicans and one was an independent. Partisanship is a funny thing sometimes.

If the Fifth Circuit upholds Judge Sparks' decision - which maybe they will, and maybe they won't - what will you accuse me of then?

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on July 8, 2006 1:19 PM

DeLay's wife still lives in the couple's Sugar Land home and that DeLay testified he had moved no personal effects from his old residence to his new residence.

In short, Mr. DeLay still lives in Texas. That's the bottom line.

You can't buy a house in another state and just claim you "live" there. That's called a "sham." The IRS and state tax agencies have been busting folks for decades for trying to weasel out of taxes with that sort of trick.

Once Mr. DeLay actually starts living in Virginia, we can start comparing this case to the Torricelli case. Until then, I think it's reasonable to call the GOP spokespeople and symathizers WATB's.

Posted by: Mathwiz on July 10, 2006 4:23 PM