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Republicans Look to Fill DeLay's Seat

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060405/D8GPI8NO0.html Republicans Look to Fill DeLay s Seat Apr 4, 9:58 PM (ET) By WENDY BENJAMINSON and KELLEY SHANNON
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2006

      Republicans Look to Fill DeLay's Seat

      Apr 4, 9:58 PM (ET)


      HOUSTON (AP) - Republicans hoping to fill the seat of
      former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay stepped forward
      Tuesday as the 11-term lawmaker said he would resign,
      leaving the Texas district whose boundaries he drew.

      Within hours of DeLay's announcement, several
      Republicans contacted party officials about getting on
      the Nov. 7 ballot. Among the potential candidates:
      Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, who worked with
      Houston's mayor to help the city absorb Hurricane
      Katrina refugees, and the county's tax
      collector-assessor, Paul Bettencourt.

      A committee of select precinct chairmen from the four
      counties that comprise DeLay's 22nd Congressional
      District will select a nominee to replace him.

      The Democratic candidate is former Rep. Nick Lampson,
      who lost his seat when DeLay redesigned the districts
      in 2004.

      Lampson, who overnight went from facing a well-funded
      if controversial opponent to a quick race against a
      latecomer, said he would continue his campaign as

      "I've gotten a lot of name identification by being
      associated with this race while Tom DeLay has been in
      it," Lampson said. "I have the distinction of having
      served a portion of this district and I know I have a
      lot of support in the eastern portion of this district
      that I represented."

      The issue of who will represent the Republican-leaning
      district between DeLay's departure and the election is

      "I will make that resignation effective sometime
      before mid-June, but largely dependent on the
      congressional calendar," DeLay said. He also said he
      would make his northern Virginia condominium his
      primary residence, which would make him ineligible to
      run or vote in Texas.

      If DeLay had resigned effective this week, Gov. Rick
      Perry could have called a special election for the
      next uniform election date, May 13. The next uniform
      election date is Nov. 7, though Perry could call an
      emergency special election before then.

      The Republicans' new nominee would have to be selected
      well before the November election to have time to
      raise money and campaign. Lampson had $1.4 million
      cash on hand as of Feb. 15. DeLay had nearly $1.3
      million, which he can transfer to his legal defense
      fund for his upcoming money-laundering trial.

      Eric Thode, the outgoing GOP chairman of Fort Bend
      County, the largest area of DeLay's district, said a
      special election would be open to candidates of any
      party, but the district still favors a Republican.

      "My Republican dog would win that election," Thode
      said, calling a special election "an innocuous and
      extremely expensive waste of time."

      In addition to Eckels and Bettencourt, other possible
      GOP candidates are attorney Tom Campbell, who won
      about a quarter of the GOP primary vote against DeLay
      last month; Republican state Reps. Robert Talton and
      Charlie Howard; Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace;
      Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs and
      former state District Judge John Devine.

      Campbell, who already had a campaign up and running,
      called DeLay's resignation "a great day for America."

      Republican Party insiders will choose the nominee, and
      Campbell's challenge to DeLay was considered unseemly,
      undercutting his chances of getting the nod.

      In the meantime, DeLay is fighting an indictment in
      Texas as part of an investigation into the allegedly
      illegal use of funds for state legislative races.
      Travis County District Attorney Ronald Earle said
      Tuesday that DeLay's plan to resign has no effect on
      the case.


      Shannon reported from Austin, Texas. Associated Press
      Writers Liz Austin and April Castro in Austin and Pam
      Easton in Houston also contributed to this report.
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