HOUSTON — Tina Benkiser, chair of the Texas Republican Party, lost in her attempt to remove former GOP Rep. Tom DeLay from November’s ballot. The GOP argued that he would not be a resident of Texas on Election Day. DeLay claims he lives in Virginia, although his wife still lives in Sugar Land, Texas.
DeLay won the March Republican primary before he resigned from Congress in disgrace over legal and image problems.
Democrats sued to keep DeLay on the ballot and won. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said Benkiser acted unconstitutionally. The decision gave Benkiser a “thorough pummeling,” the Houston Chronicle said. Ironically, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejected the GOP appeal to overturn the ruling.
If DeLay’s name had been taken off the ballot, a special GOP committee would have handpicked his replacement, leaving grassroots Republican voters with no voice whatsoever, citizen groups pointed out.
After the ruling, on Aug. 8, DeLay said he would continue to fight to remove his name from the ballot and said he would support a Republican write-in candidate.
Reporters from the Houston Chronicle recently confronted DeLay at his Sugar Land home. Many Texans have laughed at the preposterous shell game so characteristic of DeLay’s tactics throughout his career. Awaiting trial in Texas on money laundering and conspiracy charges, DeLay has become an election-year poster boy for the GOP’s “culture of corruption.”
Republicans in the 22nd Congressional District are in disarray, observers say, which could help labor-backed Democratic candidate Nick Lampson. There are 12,000 union members in the district. Labor/neighbor programs as well as voter registration drives are in the works. Libertarian candidate Bob Smither, also on the ballot, may appeal to some GOP voters.