Southern discomfort for DeLay

Tom DeLay may have endangered his re-election chances with his stance on the Schiavo affair and his ongoing ethics imbroglios.

Published April 1, 2005 12:22AM (EST)

It's not surprising that after being stung by attack ads and a and a withering Wall Street Journal editorial for his grandstanding support of Terri Schiavo, Tom DeLay went home to Texas this week for a dose of southern hospitality. He spent some time pressing the flesh at a Rotary Club and lecturing local high school students on the Constitution.

But even in Texas, DeLay faced his critics. "I actually think he's in trouble," John Cabarruvias, a local Democrat, told Knight Ridder. "There are a lot of people here, regardless of party, who think he needs to go."

DeLay has often rallied his conservative base around him on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. But in the wake of the Schiavo affair, there are signs that old-fashioned, small-government conservatives are beginning to resent how DeLay and his Christian conservative agenda have come to dominate Republican politics. The Texas congressman says his position is secure in his mostly Republican district. But the ongoing grand jury inquiry in Austin concerning illegal political contributions by his fundraisers, an Indian gaming scandal involving two lobbyists associated with DeLay and other ethics-related imbroglios have raised some questions about his re-election chances. "He would have a hard time if a well-funded moderate were to run against him," said Steven Friedman, a local realtor.

By Julia Scott

San Francisco-based freelance journalist Julia Scott writes about water and energy issues for various publications. She also covers the environment for Bay Area News Group, a chain of newspapers in Northern California.

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