GOP stupidity may give DeLay’s seat to Democrats

Looks like the combined stupidity of scandal-scarred former House Minority Leader Tom DeLay and the Republican Party in general (which carries political FUBAR to new levels) will cost the party of the elephant a seat in Congress.

Writes Greg Giroux in Congressional Quarterly:

The Texas Republican Party establishment has rallied around a single candidate, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, in their unusual write-in campaign to salvage the 22nd Congressional District seat vacated in June by Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader.

But the extreme rarity of successful write-in campaigns for Congress and the presence of a solid Democratic nominee on the ballot in former Rep. Nick Lampson has prompted to change its rating on the 22nd District race to Leans Democratic from No Clear Favorite.

The GOP faces a world of trouble in this race because of a serious miscalculation on the part of DeLay and his party colleagues.

Party officials initially were encouraged by DeLay’s decisions to renounce the nomination he had won in the March 7 primary and to resign from Congress on June 9. Though long one of the most powerful figures in Texas and national politics, DeLay faced a still-pending trial for alleged state campaign finance violations and ethics controversies stemming from his past ties to now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

A mediocre performance in the primary signaled to many, including DeLay, that he was at risk of losing to Democrat Lampson, despite the typically strong Republican leanings of voters in the suburban Houston district. DeLay’s dropout was predicated on his plan to disqualify himself from running for re-election in Texas by relocating his residence to Virginia.

But Democrats successfully sued in federal district court, contending that DeLay and the Republicans could not prove that DeLay would not be a resident of Texas on Election Day and therefore ineligible to run. The upholding of that ruling by a federal appeals court and a Supreme Court decision not to accept the matter on an emergency basis prevented the state Republican Party from removing DeLay’s name from the ballot and replacing him with a new and less embattled candidate.

Following the rulings, DeLay in early August did withdraw from the race, but that left the Republican ballot line blank — forcing the party to go the write-in route.