Scandals take toll on DeLay’s re-election prospects


    Scandal-ridden Republican Tom DeLay trails a Democratic challenger for
    his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and is viewed favorably
    by only 28 percent of people questioned in a poll of his Houston area
    district.

    The
    survey of 560 registered voters conducted Tuesday through Thursday
    found 30 percent favored former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, a Democrat,
    compared with 22 percent for DeLay, who has represented the district
    for 22 years.

    The two are expected to square off in the November
    election, although DeLay must first defeat three opponents in the
    Republican primary in March.

    Eleven percent said they would vote
    for former Republican Rep. Steve Stockman, who has said he may run as
    an independent, while 38 percent did not answer or said they would
    support none of the candidates.

    DeLay’s political career has
    taken a nose dive since he was indicted in Texas in September on
    campaign finance charges and his friend lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded
    guilty on January 3 to criminal charges in an influence-peddling
    scandal that has tainted several former DeLay associates.

    DeLay stepped aside from his job as
    majority leader, the No. 2 Republican position in the House, after the
    Texas indictment. He said on January 7 he would not try to regain the
    post.

    Sixty percent of those polled said they viewed DeLay
    unfavorably and 28 percent said they viewed him favorably. Ninety-one
    percent said they had a lower opinion of DeLay than they did last year.

    “Those
    are the kinds of signs that no candidate wants to have, especially one
    who still has legal battles coming up before the primary,” said Rice
    University political scientist Bob Stein.

    A DeLay spokeswoman
    said the results were “contrary to the strong support we’re seeing for
    Congressman DeLay throughout the district.”

    The Chronicle poll,
    conducted by Stein and University of Houston political scientist
    Richard Murray, had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.1 percent.