If the currently breaking report form Chris Matthews is correct, my congressman, former house Majority leader Tom Delay, is withdrawing from the race for CD22 based upon falling poll numbers and recent guilty pleas by former staffers. It is unknown at this time wheter this means he will be facing additional (federal?) charges, or whetehr is is simply a case of the man taking the honorable way out following his betrayal by subordinates.
UPDATE 1: CNN is confirming the Chris Matthews report.
What does this mean? First, obviously, it means that Tom Delay will be out at the end of this term in January. It also means that we will have to find a replacement candidate for CD22. I'm not sure what the process is -- but I have every reason to believe that I am a part of it as a precinct chair in the district. I'll post more as I know more.
I will say this much -- the DeLay campaign has not issued any statement as of this time, not even to those of us who have formally and publicly endorsed him.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC and CNN both have reported that U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay will announce Tuesday that he has decided not to seek re-election and is quitting the race.
DeLay campaign staffers could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.
“He basically looked at the polling,” Matthews said of a conversation he had with DeLay. “He said the (negative) trend continued. He said he expected to take a beating all summer” on news about developments in the Jack Abramoff scandal and the Texas indictments DeLay faces.
Matthews said DeLay told him he felt he had a 50-50 chance of winning re-election, “but he said another Republican could walk into that district.” – More as it develops –
This from RedState
Just breaking on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country".
Tom DeLay just phoned Chris Matthews to give him the scoop that DeLay will be announcing tomorrow that he's dropping out of his Texas congressional race and will be leaving Congress.
Apparently, Rep. DeLay felt that he couldn't overcome the downward trends in the polls, his numbers weren't improving and likely wouldn't improve with the various scandals surrounding him, and he felt his chance of winning was no better than 50/50.
DeLay also felt another Republican candidate would walk into the job, and so he fell on his sword.
I'd agree with the assessment of the posibilities of another Republican -- but which one. Certainly not Steve Stockman, who has been circulating petitions for an independent run and has already lost to Nick Lampson in the past. I'll put out my feelers shortly and try to find something out.
UPDATE 3: Holy Crap -- this is definitely real
Time Magazine has an interview with DeLay.
Rep. Tom DeLay, whose iron hold on the House Republicans melted as a lobbying corruption scandal engulfed the Capitol, told TIME that he will not seek reelection and will leave Congress within months. Taking defiant swipes at "the left" and the press, he said he feels "liberated" and vowed to pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign aimed at promoting foster care, Republican candidates and a closer connection between religion and government.
"I'm going to announce tomorrow that I'm not running for reelection and that I'm going to leave Congress," DeLay, who turns 59 on Saturday, said during a 90-minute interview on Monday. "I'm very much at peace with it." He notified President Bush in the afternoon. DeLay and his wife, Christine, said they had been prepared to fight, but that he decided last Wednesday, after months of prayer and contemplation, to spare his suburban Houston district the mudfest to come. "This had become a referendum on me," he said. "So it's better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what's important for this district."
And there is more.
"I'm a realist. I've been around awhile. I can evaluate political situations," DeLay told TIME at his kitchen table in Sugar Land, a former sugar plantation in suburban Houston. Bluebonnets are blooming along the highways. "I feel that I could have won the race. I just felt like I didn't want to risk the seat and that I can do more on the outside of the House than I can on the inside right now. I want to continue to fight for the conservative cause. I want to continue to work for a Republican majority."
Asked if he had done anything illegal or immoral in public office, DeLay replied curtly, "No." Asked if he'd done anything immoral, he said with a laugh, "We're all sinners." Asked what he would do differently, he said, "Nothing." He denied having failed to adequately supervise members of his staff, even though two of his former aides have pleaded guilty to committing crimes while on his staff. "Two people violated my trust over 21 years," he said. "I guarantee you if other offices were under the scrutiny I've been under in the last 10 years, with the Democrat Party announcing that they're going to destroy me, destroy my reputation, and that's how they're going to get rid of me, I guarantee you you're going to find, out of hundreds of people, somebody that's probably done something wrong."
DeLay brushed off the torrent of investigative news articles questioning the funding behind the golf, private planes and resort hotels that marked his travel at home and abroad. He even accepted a plane from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco to go to his arraignment. "There's nothing wrong with it," he said. "They had a plane available. My schedule was such that I couldn't do it commercially — that I had to get up there and then get back and do my job. And that's the only plane that was available at the time."
"You can't prove to me one thing that I have done for my own personal gain," he added. "Yes, I play golf. I'm very proud of the fact that I play golf. It's the only thing that I do for myself. And when you go to a country and you're there for seven days and you take an afternoon off to play golf, what does the national media write? All about the golf, not about the meeting that went to. I'm not ashamed of anything I've done. I've never done anything in my political career for my own personal gain. You can look at my bank account and my house to understand that."
I tend to agree with that assessment of the accusations against Tom DeLay, and still expect him to be cleared.
And the interesting thing is that Tom DeLay might not be sticking out the rest of the term.
Putting the best face on the poll taken by his campaign, DeLay said it gave him "a little bit better than a 50/50 chance of winning reelection." Asked if that didn't mean that he could lose, he replied, "Could have. There's no reason to risk a seat. This is a very strong Republican district. It's obvious to me that anybody but me running here will overwhelmingly win the seat."
DeLay said he is likely to leave by the end of May, depending on the Congressional schedule and finishing his work on a couple of issues. He said he will change his legal residence to his condominium in Alexandria, Va., from his modest two-story home on a golf course here in the 22nd District of Texas. "I become ineligible to run for election if I'm not a resident of the state of Texas," he said, turning election law to his purposes for perhaps on last time. State Republican officials will then be able to name another Republican candidate to face Democrat Nick Lampson, a former House members who lost his seat in a redistricting engineered by DeLay.
This also leaves me wondering if I do have a role in selecting the replacement candidate, since the discussion is about state party leaders selecting the candidate. I can tell you that folks will not be happy about having overwhelmingly renominated him and then having a substitute who was not picked locally.
UPDATE 4:: Drudge picks up on tthe Time interview, and understands, as I do, that DeLay is going to leave office sooner rather than later.
In Exclusive First Interview with TIME's Mike Allen, Delay Says He Feels 'Liberated' And Vowed to Pursue Aggressive Speaking and Organizing Campaign Aimed at Promoting Foster Care, Republican Candidates and Closer Connection Between Religion and Government
New York - Rep. Tom DeLay, whose iron hold on the House Republicans melted as a lobbying corruption scandal engulfed the Capitol, told TIME on Monday that he will not seek reelection and will leave Congress within months. Taking defiant swipes at “the left” and the press, he said he feels “liberated” and vowed to pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign aimed at promoting foster care, Republican candidates and a closer connection between religion and government.
UPDATE 5: Michelle Malkin offers a bit of a round-up of information on the impending resignation.
She references Bruce Armstrong regarding the withdrawal/resignation issue -- but what i find interesting is his recap of the scandal news.
In recent months, two of DeLay's former staff members have pled guilty to charges related to former DC lobbyist and power broker Jack Abramoff. A story in today's San Jose Mercury News details the plea deal involving Tom Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff, who pled guilty last Friday to a conspiracy charge. The Mercury News story reports that Rudy has implicated his direct boss, former chief of staff Ed Buckham.
Last November, former DeLay press secretary Michael Scanlon, who went on to partner with Abramoff in the lobbying business, pled guilty to bribery charges. Neither Scanlon nor Rudy are believed to have directly implicated DeLay in criminal activity.
This seems to me to indicate that this is a political move, not a pre-indictment/guilty plea move. That certainly makes sense, given some of the Time magazine interview in which he talks about future plans.
Michelle also references this article in the Galveston Daily News. Again, I find this more interesting because of the information on the process for selecting DeLay's replacement than I am by the comments on his leaving the race and the House, which are essentially the same as the Time magazine article.
DeLay said he planned to move to a house he has in Virginia near Washington, D.C. By doing so, he would no longer be eligible to run for Congress in Texas.
With the primary already past, party leaders will have to select a candidate to run against Lampson, Libertarian Bob Smither and perhaps former Republican congressman Steve Stockman running as an independent.
DeLay said that decision would be up to the Texas GOP’s executive committee.
“I should not play the role to play kingmaker,” said DeLay, who first was elected to public office as a Texas House member in 1978.
Whoever is tapped will get his support, DeLay said, and that candidate will win because Lampson’s No. 1 issue will be gone.
“I imagine that this is the worst news he could get,” said DeLay. “He is going to have to tell people what he is for.”
DeLay’s exit also robs Democrats of a handy target for national attacks on the Republican Party and may take the national spin off the race.
“I would assume, being the realist I am that Mr. Lampson is going to have a hard time keeping this a national race,” DeLay said.
Yeah, I suppose this is true, but a big part of the equation is going to be who the candidate who replaces him turns out to be. The DeLay loyalsists -- the many folks who have had signs out in the since before the primary race -- will back whoever the choice is. But will we be able to draw back the 1/3 of GOP primary voters who were disenchanted enough with Tom DeLay to vote for one of his opponents -- either the pair of non-entities or Tom Campbell (the relative unknown). Will Tom Campbell's showing be enough to get him the nod as a replacement candidate? Or will we have some other candidate arise. For example, what about Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, whose former legislative district sits right in the heart of CD22 (he was a resident of my old precinct, before I moved to my new one)? Would he consider re-establishing residence in CD22 to make a run against lampson, or would he prefer to stay with the "sure thing" reelection to his current post? I havew no doubt that he could get the support of the state-level folks in the GOP. Those are the first two names to jump into my head at this moment -- I'm sure there are several legislators, county officials, and even local folks giving a run some thought. Heck, I even took a moment to fantasize!
UPDATE 6: The Washington Post checks in -- and includes this assessment.
DeLay became arguably the most effective whip in modern House history. He corralled Republicans into a lock-step discipline that blocked much of former President Bill Clinton's agenda in the 1990s, engineered the impeachment of Clinton -- the first time a sitting president had been impeached in over 100 years -- and later turned the House into President Bush's firewall against Senate Republican dissent.
Beyond those legislative accomplishments, DeLay worked to turn Washington's lobbying and business community into a bulwark of Republican support, dispensing legislative favors to those who played along. He was admonished by the House Ethics Committee in 1999 for retaliating against a trade association that hired a Democrat.
The question is, of course, whether these accomplishments will outlive the congressional career of Tom Delay.
Powerline offers this assessment.
It's too bad, I think. DeLay was an effective leader, albeit too liberal in recent years. It's possible, of course, that he did something wrong along the way. But there is no evidence of that in the public domain; as I've often said, the politically-inspired prosection of DeLay by Travis County's discredited DA, Ronnie Earle, is a bad joke. As far as we can tell at the moment, DeLay appears to be yet another victim of the Democrats' politics of personal destruction--the only politics they know.
Too liberal? That may be the only time you see such an assessment.
UPDATE 7: At last, the blogger I have been waiting for -- Chris Elam of Texas Safety Forum. He has the obligatory "DeLay Quits" piece, but more importantly has a longer piece on the replacement process and current handicapping.
SREC Can Pick a Replacement Candidate
Are what my early reports say... Conflicting reports say that County Chairs could be doing it.
Who could that replacement candidate be?
Feel free to add to this list...
State Sen. Kyle Janek
Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace
Second-Place finisher Tom Campbell
Remember, Congressmen DO NOT have to live in their district. Its entirely possible that we could see a Metro Houston area replacement candidate.
PLUS.... plus... its very important to remember... we do not yet know if Tom is stepping down RIGHT NOW, or going to serve out the rest of his term. FNC is reporting that he will step down in Late Spring.
Can you say special election?
And if that turns out to be the case, what would happen in the search for a replacement candidate for the November ballot?
We'll know definite names soon, I promise.
UPDATE: I'm hearing that the special election is almost certainly what we are facing. Kronberg reports the following...Here is what we hear from independent Texas sources. Tom Delay will resign, probably by the end of the week in order to allow the Governor to call a special election. The presumptive favorite is David Wallace, Mayor of Sugarland.
That's Sugar Land, Harvey. Two words.
Given the connections Chris and his dad have as part of their campaign work in Fort Bend County, I suspect that he has great sources. However, I really hope he is wrong on the David Wallace tip -- I think that would alienate those of us on the east side of the district -- folks who used to be part of Lampson's old district. It would be beneficial to get someone with a connection to this side of the district to shore up GOP support in what could, potentially be Lampson territory.
UPDATE 8: Fort Bend County GOP Chair Eric Thode makes the following comment over at Chris Elam's website, outlining the process that will follow.
There are two processes in play. One is withdrawal from the ballot. Two is resignation from the seat.
According to DeLay's staff, the official withdrawal will occur once residency has been established in another state, which will allow the CD 22 District Committee to replace DeLay on the ballot. Based on my conversation with Secretary of State staff, the Committee will be comprised of the County Chairs from Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston and Brazoria; plus one Precinct Chair from CD 22 in each of those counties. This individual would be selected by their peers from CD 22 in the respective counties.
Part two is the resignation, which according to DeLay staff will not occur until June or July. At that point, the Governor can choose to hold a special election on one of Texas' predetermined election dates, or decide not to hold a Special Election. Essentially, there could be two simultaneous elections...the November General Election for the 2007-2008 term of Congress and a Special Election for the final few months of DeLay's current term.
Needless to say, it's all up to Congressman DeLay when these two processes actually start and this could all change tomorrow.
FYI: In order for a May Special Election to occur, DeLay must resign before April 7, which at this point, he says he does not plan to do.
As for the candidates you mention, there are two good choices....Janek and Wallace. Although Campbell is a nice guy, he has no chance at all.
And I have to agree with the assessment of Tom Campbell's chances -- and obviously he had not seen my comment on jerry Patterson, given that our time stamps are only 3 minutes apart and his comment was a very long one.
UPDATE 9: More from Chris Elam.
First, he notes that Tom Campbell and Dave Wallace have both declared their candidacies. Will either of them (Wallace, more likely than Campbell) scare off other challengers?
Second, he takes Eric Thode's comment and gives it a separate posting of its own on TSF.
UPDATE 11: Elam reports two additional names in the hopper to replace DeLay -- State Representative Charlie Howard and Fort Bend County Commissioner Andy Meyers -- though it is unlikely both would enter, due to similar support bases.
UPDATE 12: The Houston Chronicle is reporting a number of names that had not yet surfaced.
Familiar and lesser-known political names emerged tonight as possible contenders for the congressional seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay.
Those who acknowledged interest in the seat or were mentioned as contenders included Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, state Rep. Robert Talton, Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs and former State District Judge John Devine.
Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill said he started receiving calls from interested officials within minutes of hearing the news of DeLay's decision.
"Numerous people have called me inquiring about the seat," he said.
Other phones also were ringing as politicians gauged potential support or heard from backers.
Eckels would have to move to the district, Sekula-Gibbs is part of the scandal-tainted Houston City Council, and Devine lost his last race for office (he left the bench to run for state rep). On the plus side, Sekula-Gibbs is from the part of the district that is "Lampson Territory" by virtue of having been a part of Nick's old district. What is interesting is that these are the first Harris County candidates I've heard mentioned.
Update 13: I was about to go to bed when I came across this bit of information -- it explains why DeLay is going to move out of state rather than simply withdraw.
With news that Tom DeLay is withdrawing from his House reelection contest, the question is what happens now in his race. It appears that the following is the applicable Texas law (putting aside any caselaw that might affect interpretation of these chapters):
Under Texas Election code section 1.005(7), DeLay was running in a 'General election for state and county officers' [, which] means the general election at which officers of the federal, state, and county governments are elected." Section 145.031 et. seq. set forth the rules for "a candidate who is a political party's nominee in the general election for state and county officers except a candidate for president or vice-president of the United States." DeLay is the party's nominee in a general election for state and county officers and he's not a candidate for president or vice president, so these rules apply.
Under 145.032, DeLay can withdraw because it is more than 74 days before election day. If he withdraws, under section 145.035, his name is omitted from the ballot. Under section 145.036, the political party's executive committee can only fill a vacancy under limited circumstances (such as catastrophic illness), none of which seem to apply to DeLay. So this route does not look like it would work for DeLay.
Instead, reports suggest he will move from Texas, thereby becoming ineligible to serve. (See section 145.003 on declaration of ineligibility.) If he is "ineligible" rather than "withdraws," section 145.036 gives the party the right to name a candidate to fill the vacancy.
There are also rumors that the governor could call a special election. Under 204.021, "An unexpired term in the office of United States representative may be filled only by a special election in the same manner as provided by Chapter 203 for the legislature, except that Section 203.013 does not apply." (203.013 sets forth a timetable for the election.) Chapter 203 sets forth the requirement of a special election, the requirement of a majority vote (meaning a runoff will be necessary if no candidate gets a majority of the vote), etc. But this would only apply to the unexpired term. There's this provision that appears to allow a replacement to run for the full term, but only if the vacancy occurs after the general election. So even if the governor calls a special election that chooses someone to serve out the rest of DeLay's current term, that does not appear to affect the nomination rules for the upcoming general election.
Well, that clarifies a lot of what is going on. It also makes timing quite relevant.
UPDATE 14: As one of the let-down DeLay supporters, I rather like the response to the news over at JackLewis.net.
In other words he's letting the political gangsters on the left win, thereby empowering them. When more thugs like Ronnie Earle make false charges against other Republicans, we can thank DeLay for sending the message that such tactics can work.
Whatever happened to refusing to capitulate to terrorists?
Indeed -- does this further embolden the Democrats, who have no platform other than the destruction of the President and other Republicans?
OTHER BLOGGERSON THE RIGHT (I won't link the left-wing bilge on this one) checking in are Wizbang, Ed Driscoll, bRight & Early, Tech in Black (a DeLay relative?), Political Pit Bull, Captain's Quarters, The Markum Report, Pardon My English, Riehl World View, BlogHOUSTON, LoneStar Times, Rossputin, Unpartisan, Lakeshore Laments, Outside the Beltway, Texas Rainmaker, Gateway Pundit, Rolling Barrage, Big Lizards