What happens next? A short FAQ about DeLay

An attempt to answer various questions swirling around Tom DeLay's resignation.


Farhad Manjoo
April 4, 2006 11:52AM (UTC)

Tom DeLay's resignation sets in motion a series of events in Texas' 22nd Congressional District, so let's look at what could happen next. One caveat: Nobody really knows anything right now, so much of this is bloggy speculation. Of course, that's what makes it so much fun.

Which Republicans hope to replace DeLay? Two candidates have already jumped in: Tom Campbell, an attorney who won 30 percent of the vote against DeLay in the March primary race (DeLay won 62 percent), and David G. Wallace, the mayor of Sugar Land, Texas, DeLay's hometown.

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DeLay says that he'll support any Republican in the race, but there's no love lost between him and Campbell. Before the primary, DeLay's campaign manager said this of Campbell: "Clearly, Mr. Campbell is no conservative ... Every day he proves he's nothing more than an outsider who isn't concerned with conservative issues or fighting for the priorities of Texas taxpayers. He's not qualified to run for Republican precinct chair, let alone represent hundreds and thousands of Republican voters in Congress." (Emphasis added because it will be fun to ask DeLay about statements like this if Campbell becomes the candidate.)

Despite these claims, Campbell looks no less conservative than DeLay. The Houston Chronicle's editorial board, which endorsed him in the race against DeLay, billed Campbell as "a clean Tom DeLay, someone who shares the staunch Republican values of his district but who recognizes that special interest influence in Congress must be reined in and stronger ethics and disclosure rules promulgated." (A "clean Tom DeLay" -- sounds much like a creature of legend, as impossible as a musically gifted Kevin Federline.)

About David Wallace, there's a lot less to say. His job as mayor is part time; in his day job, Wallace is a real-estate developer and investment banker, the New York Times reports. Wallace has a campaign Web site, but it is "under construction" at the moment. The city's Web site features a short bio and résumé.

There will be no primary to choose which of these two will face Democrat Nick Lampson in November. Instead, according to some local Republican officials quoted in the press, a committee of GOP officials will choose which person will replace Delay on the ballot.

Will there be a special election? If DeLay leaves his post soon (as he says he will do), Texas may hold a special election to determine who will fill his seat for the remainder of his term. It isn't clear, though, whether the state is required to fill this seat; this means that before November's election, there could be another race in Texas' 22nd, or not.

There's yet more confusion: Some bloggers point out that if there is a special election in the 22nd, the winner may need a majority -- rather than a mere plurality -- to win the seat under Texas' election law. (See the relevant statutes in PDF format here and here.) Because there may be several candidates who'd split the left-leaning vote and only one on the right (whichever one the Republicans settle on, if they can do that), Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos says that the majority-vote rule would help the GOP in the special election. It goes without saying that the winner of the special election will have an enormous advantage in November's race.

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How does this affect Nick Lampson? Two theories: 1) He's toast, because the liberals will now pull back all they'd been pouring into his race, and he'll face a candidate who will likely appeal to many in the district, or 2) he's golden, because now he may challenge a candidate who's weaker than DeLay, and the lefty hordes will strengthen their support of his effort if only to spite DeLay.

Of course, nobody knows. Left-leaning blogs, though, are already encouraging readers to step up their support of Lampson. And Lampson says he'll take whatever the Republicans can throw at him. "From day one I have been running because this district needs a congressman who will make headlines for the right reasons and work for the mainstream values I share with the people of this district," Lampson said in a statement. "No matter who I face in the general election, I am going to fight hard and I am going to win in November."


Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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