updated 7/12/2006 10:49:48 AM ET 2006-07-12T14:49:48

Texas Republicans want a federal appeals court to quickly resolve a dispute over whether former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay should remain on the November ballot, saying they are running out of time for replacing DeLay with another nominee.

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Republicans said in filings sent Tuesday to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that there are deadlines in late August for replacing DeLay's name. Attorney Jim Bopp asked for an expedited hearing.

DeLay, who is awaiting trial on state charges of money laundering and conspiracy in a campaign finance case, won the Republican primary in March but resigned from Congress in June and said he has moved to Virginia.

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GOP leaders want to replace the former U.S. House majority leader on the ballot and say state election law allows them to select a new candidate because DeLay moved out of Texas.

Democrats sued to block them. The party wants to keep DeLay and his legal troubles on the minds of voters and hopes to win his former seat in the 22nd congressional district, where Democrat Nick Lampson is running.

A federal judge in Austin determined last week that DeLay's name had to remain on the ballot, saying he was not convinced that DeLay would not return to Texas, despite his current Virginia residency.

In a separate filing in federal district court in Austin, Bopp asked for a partial stay to that ruling so that Republicans can take preliminary steps toward filling what could be a ballot vacancy, depending on the outcome of the litigation.

Texas Democrats don't oppose an expedited hearing, but are negotiating with GOP attorneys on the timeline before the appeals court, said Democratic lawyer Cris Feldman. He said he believes the ballot dispute already was settled by last week's ruling.

DeLay hinted last week he might run again if his name has to stay on the ballot. But he told Fox News on Monday that he would wait until the appeals court rules to decide whether he would actively run for the congressional seat.

Meanwhile, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has sued the state attorney general to keep secret the details of his investigation of DeLay.

The Houston Chronicle had filed a request under Texas' open records law for vouchers, hotel and airfare receipts, and other documents describing the expenses for the DeLay inquiry and related investigations.

Earle appealed to Attorney General Greg Abbott, arguing that releasing the information could compromise the prosecution. Abbott ruled that Earle didn't have to disclose secret information related to grand jury investigations but noted that the public records law requires disclosure of "information in an account, voucher or contract" relating to the expenditure of public money.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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