Tom DeLay is in deep trouble these days, but legal woes are only half of his problem.
DeLay runs the risk of incarceration on a number of fronts, from the pending money laundering indictments in Texas to the potential investigation into his close relations with Jack Abramoff, but a steady stream of news over the last month has increasingly called into question DeLay's political viability as well. Simply put, it's not clear that DeLay can win reelection.
At the beginning of the year, DeLay began drawing conservative opposition within his Sugar Land district (TX-22), both from inside his party -- primary challenges from three area Republicans -- and from outside his party, in the form for former GOP Rep. Steve Stockman*, who is running as an independent in the race. Early polling from the race confirmed DeLay's delicate situation, showing the Congressman trailing former Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson by a 30 percent to 22 percent margin, with DeLay polling only 11 points above Stockman. To make matters worse for DeLay, Lampson has attained near parity with him in terms of cash-on-hand, with the Republican holding a mere $1.44 million to $1.29 million advantage.
Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall sat down for an interview with Lampson this week, the transcript of which is now available online. (Note: we will resume our round of candidate interviews here at MyDD next week.) A particularly interesting section comes when Lampson brings DeLay's ethics problems directly to the fore.
He was more about either his personal wealth, or his personal power, or his party's power. He clearly did some things that are -- not just should be, but are being questioned. Whether or not something comes of it remains to be seen as they go through the process.
Standing up for sweatshops and sweatshop owners in the Marianas islands and then coming back following that trip with Jack Abramoff -- and the involvement with Jack Abramoff out there -- coming back to the floor of the House of Representatives and defending these actions on the floor of the House. Clearly that was something different from paying attention to the needs of the people of the 22nd Congressional District.
Using the lobbyists for his own personal benefit, taking a $56,000 golfing trip to Scotland. That is clearly something not in the best interest of the people of the 22nd Congressional District.
And then, just to pick another thing, the million dollars that was contributed by Russian oil people through a London law firm that came into a charity that DeLay had set up - ultimately some of the funding was used for the purchase of a building that he uses for his political activities. Those have to be reasonable questions to be asking.
Whether or not he's guilty, that's for the courts and the ethics committees to decide. But the questions certainly ought to be asked. And certainly those were things that he was doing, rather than attending to the business of the 22nd Congressional District and the citizens of the United States of America.
He was too focused on his special interests.
This is a race that Nick Lampson can win. Cook Political ranked this race a "toss-up" last month, even before the polling and fundraising numbers became public, so do not, by any means, underestimate the Democrats' chances. To get involved in the Lampson campaign, make sure to check out his webstite.