With DeLay's seat at risk, a Republican governor rides to the rescue

The games people play.

Published August 30, 2006 1:39PM (EDT)

As we noted yesterday, it looks like the Democrats have a good shot at picking up Tom DeLay's seat in Congress. The courts have ruled that DeLay, having won the GOP primary, has to remain on the ballot even though he has decided not to run for reelection, and it's hard to believe that enough Sugar Land residents will remember to write in the name of replacement Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs to defeat Democrat Nick Lampson, whose name will actually be, you know, printed on the ballot.

Well, it turns out that Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn't cotton much to that idea. The governor's office announced yesterday that he'll be calling a last-minute special election to fill DeLay's seat between Election Day in November and the day DeLay's permanent replacement takes over in January. Perry will give would-be candidates until Friday to get their names on the ballot -- the same ballot, of course, that voters will see when they walk into their voting booths in November.

Now, we're certain that the governor is deeply concerned that the good folks of Sugar Land don't go a day without representation in the House -- even though they've gone quite some time already, and even if many if not most of the days on which the specially elected representative serves will be ones on which the House will be on holiday recess. But isn't it also possible that the governor thought it would be useful to get Shelley Sekula-Gibbs' not-exactly-easy-to-memorize name somewhere on the November ballot so that GOP voters would have a ready reference when it comes time to do their writing in?

Sekula-Gibbs pretty much gives up the game in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. "Being on the ballot will help voters to see my name and know that they can vote for the Republican," she said. "It's a great opportunity."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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