House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), struggling to protect his Washington power base as legal and ethical issues fester, also has to watch his back on the home front.
Though the change has received little notice, DeLay's strength in his suburban Houston congressional district of strip malls and housing developments has eroded considerably -- forcing him to renew his focus on protecting his seat.
Seems Tommy had a harder time with the election than we realized:
DeLay garnered 55 percent of the vote in the November election against a relatively unknown Democrat, Some Republican officials and DeLay supporters worry that with President Bush absent from the top of the ticket next year, liberal interest groups might target the conservative majority leader and spend millions of dollars on campaign ads to try to defeat him
Well hmmmmm do WE know anybody like that?
and he IS vulnerable:
Ironically, the Texas redistricting plan he engineered over strong Democratic objections drained some vital Republican support and could make it tougher for him to win reelection.
DeLay's new district wound up several percentage points less Republican than his previous one, and it has a substantial and growing Asian American population.
and let's not forget the impact of an ethical scandal or two on a close race
- DeLay, 57, got into trouble last year when the House ethics committee admonished him three times.
-Three of his Texas associates were indicted by a Travis County grand jury on charges of illegal fundraising related to a controversial redistricting plan that DeLay helped push through the state legislature.
-Testimony began this week in a civil case brought in Austin by five Democrats who allege that a political action committee begun by DeLay improperly spent about $600,000 in corporate contributions to implement the plan and unseat them.
Even Big media may be sensing blood in the water:
-Lesley Stahl of CBS's "60 Minutes" questioned DeLay about legal issues last month when he was trying to talk about tsunami relief, and she interviewed Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is conducting the grand jury that indicted DeLay's three associates.
-Last week, the National Journal reported that DeLay, his wife, Christine, and close aides had traveled the world with Jack Abramoff, who once was one of the Republican Party's most powerful lobbyists and now is facing criminal and congressional investigations for millions of dollars in fees he received from casino-operating Indian tribes seeking to influence the federal government.
But our window of assault is not large. Tommy is already preparing for the fight by
Hiring new muscle
In January, DeLay shook up his team of political consultants. He signed on Sam Dawson, who was a top political aide to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and helped devise the Republican strategy for taking over the House in 1994. Dawson will serve as his general consultant and media strategist.
and trying to buy off the Local Democrats:
Houston Mayor Bill White, former chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said DeLay was "ruthless" on redistricting but has been cooperative in getting money for the area and has moved to make amends with corporate leaders he alienated with his opposition to funding for light rail instead of buses.
Indeed, DeLay is greeted as a sugar daddy almost everywhere he goes here. During a symposium DeLay attended last week at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, he was repeatedly saluted in the speeches and PowerPoint presentations for the federal funds he had helped arrange for the school's Center for Biosecurity and Public Health Preparedness, which bills itself as "improving our nation's health security."
So we have a golden opportunity to Avenge Tom Daschle, and draw serious blood in the upcoming mid-terms. Are we up to the challenge?