Tom DeLay Wins Texas Primary

Tom DeLay easily won the Republican primary to keep his seat, despite predictions that the Abramoff scandal and his arrogance in helping redraw his seat into a competitive one to help strengthen Republican chances in adjoining districts would lead to his defeat.

This should not surprise anyone, although it may sadden some. DeLay is a master politician who has done well by his constituents for over two decades. It is not inconceivable that Nick Lampson, a conservative Democrat and former Congressman, could beat him in November as details from the Abramoff mess become public. But, despite their low approval ratings elsewhere, Tom DeLay, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney are still quite popular deep in the heart of Texas.

DeLay helped draw his new district, back when he was considered politically invincible, during the mid-cycle redistricting that’s currently under challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court. It is, by the standards of the day, a comparatively competitive one.

The district, shaped like a bow tie, covers parts of four counties south of Houston: Fort Bend to the west, Galveston to the southeast, and Harris and Brazoria in the middle. About 40 percent of the district’s voters are in Fort Bend County with its fast-growing core city, Sugar Land, where Mr. DeLay is from; and another 40 percent are in Harris County, which includes bedroom communities for the NASA space center. The district is somewhat less than two-thirds non-Hispanic white, about 18 percent Hispanic, and nine percent each black and other, mostly Asian.

The district is almost two-thirds Republican, although Mr. DeLay ran nine percentage points behind President Bush in 2004, defeating his Democratic opponent, Richard Morrison, 55 to 41 percent whereas Mr. Bush won the district with 64 percent to 36 percent for John Kerry.

One suspects both DeLay and Bush would do less well today.

Given the delicious fun it would be to knock off the man once known as “the Hammer,” his main opponent will not lack for funds.

DeLay and Lampson begin the battle for the November general election virtually tied for cash on hand. According to campaign finance reports filed in mid-February, DeLay had $1.3 million in the bank to Lampson’s $1.4 million. According to a Houston Chronicle poll taken in early January, Lampson also had a lead over DeLay of eight percentage points.

Aside from scandal, DeLay’s biggest obstacle may be “former one-term conservative Republican congressman, Steve Stockman, who said he would start collecting signatures to get on the ballot as an independent.” If enough Republicans vote for Stockman, Lampson could conceivably win even with a plurality.

Update: DeLay can still be a jerk, however: “Before he was driven away from the fundraiser, a reporter asked why he chose to be in Washington. He said: “Do you know what the Patriot Act is? Have you heard of it? I just voted on it.””



FILED UNDER: 2006 Election, Congress, Supreme Court, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. whatever says:

    I’m sorry, I haven’t kept up with current events. Which court found DeLay guilty of something?

  2. DeLay is awesome. F the haters.

  3. Of course, the redrawing of the 22nd District would have no effect (or, at least, very little) on the primary race. I still think he will get a fight from Lampson, as you note.

    It won’t hurt my feelings if he were to lose in November, I must confess.

  4. Jonk says:


  5. McGehee says:

    He actually sacrificed the security of his own safe district to help other Republicans!?

    What a horrible, horrible man!

  6. RA says:

    Delay changed the districting map to reflect the popular vote. It was the democrats who were getting 40% of the vote but 60% of the seats. Now the number of Republicans reflects the voting percentages. Thats not arrogance that fair play!

    No one ever remembers that Ronnie Earl had to go through SIX grand juries before he found one corrupt enough to indict Delay.

    Delay’s opponent spent heavily on radio adds the last two weeks of the campaign. Delay spent nothing. He still won by a 2-1 vote margin. Only to a left-wing reporter from Houston can a man who is doing the peoples business be characterised as a “jerk”.

    The “jerks” are Delay’s critics. Shabby Harry Reid took more money from Abramoff than Delay.

  7. G A Phillips says:


  8. Herb says:

    GA and RA:

    I’m with ya.