August 8, 2006

DeLay says he won’t run for House seat

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Indicted former U.S. House of
Representatives Republican leader Tom DeLay said on Tuesday he
will not run for his former seat in Congress even though
federal courts have ruled his name cannot be replaced on the
November ballot.

"Earlier this year I resigned from the U.S. House of
Representatives and became a resident of the state of Virginia,
to establish my new business, and where I now legally reside,
pay taxes and vote," DeLay said in a statement.

"This decision was and is irrevocable, which I made clear
from Day One," DeLay said.

DeLay said he would act to remove himself from the ballot
for the 22nd Texas congressional district in suburban Houston
and encouraged the Texas Republican Party to offer a challenger
to Democratic nominee ex-Rep. Nick Lampson.

A spokesman for the Texas secretary of state's office said
the only thing DeLay can do to take his name off the ballot is
file to withdraw from the race, leaving the Republican Party
with no nominee for the seat that DeLay, a leader of the GOP
conservatives, held for 21 years.

University of Houston political science Professor Richard
Murray said DeLay's decision virtually hands the seat to

"I would say there is a 98.5 percent chance Democrats will
pick up that seat," Murray said. "Whether they can hold it down
the road is another question."

Lampson's campaign was not ready to declare victory on

"Tom DeLay has cut and run from this fight twice now, said
Lampson campaign manager Mike Malaise. "Nick will continue
running his positive, issue-based campaign we hope the multiple
write-in candidates who enter this race will do the same and
reject DeLay's brand of dirty politics."


Texas Republican Party strategists told the Houston
Chronicle they were planning a campaign to write in a

U.S. District and Appeals courts ruled DeLay could not be
replaced prior to the election without violating the U.S.

Texas Republicans claimed DeLay was ineligible for the
office under state law because he moved out of Texas. The
courts said that, under the U.S. Constitution, a candidate's
residency can only be determined on election day and not

Due to discontent over the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the
2006 election is seen as the best chance for Democrats to gain
control of the House since the Republicans won the majority in

In March, DeLay said he would resign from Congress and not
seek re-election just days after beating three Republican
rivals in the party's primary election. Polls had shown he
might lose to a Democrat.

DeLay and two former aides were indicted last year on
charges of using corporate donations in 2002 state elections.
DeLay maintains he did nothing wrong and the prosecution was

DeLay has also been tarnished by his association with
former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is at the center of an
influence-peddling scandal that led Ohio Republican Rep. Robert
Ney to give up his re-election effort this week.