Playing with Fire

As is their wont, Dems have handled the DeLay Dilemma wrong from top to bottom.

(What's going on: Tom DeLay held off on announcing his retirement until after he'd won the Reep primary for his seat. The intent of this was to allow the Texas Reep party, rather than primary voters, choose his successor. Texas Dems objected to the tactic on the basis that DeLay had merely announced an intent to relocate, not actually done so, and was therefore still eligible to run for Congress from the district he now represents, so it was illegal for the Reep party to remove him from the ballot. This is technically true, and state and federal courts have now sided with the Texas Dems, spurring the Reeps to promise an appeal to the Supreme Clown Posse.)

First of all, the Dems seem to be assuming that his legal problems and deep ties to the oft-indicted Abramoff money network are necessarily a millstone around DeLay's neck, and, therefore, that keeping DeLay in the race will improve the prospects of the Dem candidate. I don't know what the situation looks like in Sugarland, but I have a hard time believing that the problems DeLay's having -- which the Reeps have done a great job of downplaying on a national level -- are going to hurt him nearly as much as incumbency and the fact that he drew the f@cking district are going to help him.

Second, and possibly more important, the Dems are now the aggressors, and openly so. When Reeps pull this kind of dirty trick, they know how to make it seem like it's coming from independent operators, not the party itself. That may not have been possible in this case, I dunno, but the end result here is that DeLay wants to step down, and the Dems are forcing him to run. The Reeps won't need to spin this, this is what's actually going on, and it's certain to win him some sympathy and support from people who would just as soon see him gone otherwise.

The Dems could have let the Reep party bosses pull their little switcheroo on the voters and then spent the whole campaign bitching about how the will of the voters doesn't mean anything to the GOP, but instead they've elected to go the route of litigation and technicality. Perhaps they really thought that the integrity of the primary process was important enough to warrant this, but it seems much more likely that they thought thwarting the Reep's little scheme would help them get a Dem in there.

I might be wrong -- it happens once in a while -- but I'm now ready to announce that Tom DeLay will be re-elected. Whether he decides to serve, or steps down and forces a special election, remains to be seen (and doesn't really matter, since the man is going to be and always has been much more dangerous as a lobbyist than a legislator). Long and short of it is, the Texas Dems are playing with fire, and they're going to get burned.

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