I believe it was Stephen Colbert who recently said that the 22nd Congressional District should be retired in honor of Tom DeLay's service. Looks to me like the Texas GOP will be happy to retire it until November.
"No, there won't be a special election," DeLay told Limbaugh. "Texas has a law that there's only two dates that you can have a special election, November and May, and this weekend the deadline for the May special election will have passed."
Other officials say they believe Texas Gov. Rick Perry has the authority to call an emergency election on a date of his own choosing.
DeLay's resignation "will lead the governor to declare the seat vacant and either set a special election or leave the seat vacant for the remainder of the term ending December 31," Fort Bend County Republican Party Chairman Eric Thode said in an email to party faithful on Wednesday. "If one is called, the special election should have NO impact on how the place on the ballot gets filled. In fact, I would argue that it could impair the Republican Party in November."
Gary Gillen, a run-off candidate against Linda Howell to succeed Thode as county party chairman, said a special election to replace DeLay and finish his term would "at this point be a circus because a special election is open to everyone. I don't see the value to the Republican Party."
Gillen said voters would be "better served by waiting until November and electing their candidate then."
Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, interested but as yet unannounced as a candidate for DeLay's November ballot spot, said his understanding is that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is not obligated under the law to act to replace DeLay.
"I don't know that there's any reason to call a special election," Eckels added.
Nick Lampson, congressional candidate for Texas's 22nd congressional district, will hold a press conference Thursday to call for a Special Election to be held on May 13.
Lampson said, "Tom DeLay lost this race. Now, it's time for him to move on. Southeast Texas should not be without a Congressperson for months while our country is at war, we face a difficult debate about how to secure our borders and reform immigration and our debt and deficit are skyrocketing. Our seat in Congress should not be empty while Tom DeLay tries to manipulate who his successor will be."
The next unified Election Day is May 13th. Tom DeLay should resign from Congress, be declared ineligible for the November election, and let Texans get on with the business of getting a new congressperson in May. Otherwise, if DeLay resigns in June and the Governor calls for a special election on November 7 to coincide with the general election, the people of the 22nd congressional district will be without any representation for months while our country is at war, is fighting terrorists, and is debating important issues like immigration reform. It is wrong for the people of this district to have no voice in Congress just so Tom DeLay can maneuver and handpick his successor in yet another backroom deal. DeLay should leave now and the Governor should call this special election in May. This should happen by the end of this week.
Lampson will speak at 10 am at Sugarland Town Square Plaza, 2700 Town Center Blvd. North in Sugarland.
What I want to know right about now is what David Wallace and Charlie Howard think of this. Surely at least one of them has to believe his chances of being the nominee in November will be much greater if he wins a special election before then. This is why I keep saying the Republicans may have a unity problem on their hands. It's one thing for a David Wallace to put aside his ambition in deference to King Tom, but to whom exactly does he owe loyalty if the powers that be decide Robert Eckels is the Chosen One and not him? Sure, maybe he'll put his party ahead of himself and go back to meekly waiting for someone else to step aside and let him move up the ladder. And maybe he'll decide that he's better off sitting on his hands and hoping for a Lampson win so that he might have a clean shot at it in 2008. However mad that might make some of his partymates now, he may well gamble they'll be eager enough to reclaim that seat in two years' time that they'll rally behind whoever survives the primary.
Maybe that happens and maybe it doesn't, but you can't tell me it's not a rational choice for someone who wants a shot at getting into Congress. And you can't tell me that some Republicans won't be upset at being told they don't have a say in who gets to take on Lampson in DeLay's absence. All that without even contemplating the possibility that the powers that be won't be able to settle on a Chosen One. It's not at all clear to me what happens from here.
But hey - not my problem. You guys go ahead and cut a deal and tell everyone else to like it or lump it. The rest of us have a candidate to support. Have fun with the decisionmaking process.
I know I expressed concern previously about the majority-not-plurality-needed nature of a special election. I still have that concern. We're all in some uncharted waters here, and my thinking is going to evolve as new considerations arise and as the Republican strategy becomes more apparent. I'm not sure what the best-case scenario is for the Dems, so I'm just trying to evaluate what's being kicked around. My apologies to anyone who feels like they've got whiplash. I feel like it, too.
Thanks to Juanita for the story link.
UPDATE: More confusion:
After DeLay vacates his office, Gov. Rick Perry has 20 days to set a special election. If DeLay steps down in June, Perry can either call the election to coincide with the Nov. 7 general election, or he can call an emergency special election sooner.
A Nov. 7 date would mean voters in the 22nd District would vote twice for congressional candidates — once to fill out what then would be the final two months of DeLay's term and once for the next term.
Some GOP leaders prefer that option, saying a separate special election would be too costly. But Lampson and others say it would be unfair to leave the people of the district without representation in the U.S. House for several months.
1. Special election before November for the unexpired term, followed by the regular election in November for the next two years. This is what Lampson is advocating; at least, it's what he's advocating if the special is for the next uniform election date in May.
2. Special election at the same time as the general election in November. This would mean that CD22 would be on the ballot twice, presumably with a different slate of candidates for each. I don't understand the appeal of this option for anyone - if you're a Republican, you either want to be the Chosen One or to use an earlier special to force your selection as the Chosen One. Why in the world would anyone run just to serve from November to January?
3. No special election, the seat stays empty till January, and the Chosen One goes against Lampson et al in November. This is Thode's preference.
The Chron story does not acknowledge option 3. Is this correct? Please help me out here if you can.
UPDATE: DeLayVsWorld considers eight (count 'em!) scenarios, all involving a special election. In talking to people about this, I'm becoming more convinced that Perry is not obligated to call one. We'll see.Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 06, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack