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.
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."
"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."
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.
"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."
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