The Texas Republican Party must keep Tom DeLay's name on the November ballot, even though the former congressman has dropped his re-election bid, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
DeLay, the former House majority leader who resigned June 9 and is under indictment, won the Republican primary for his district in March but decided against re-election a month later.
He is awaiting trial on money laundering and conspiracy charges connected to the financing of Texas legislative campaigns in 2002 with alleged illegal corporate money.
Residency or habitant
GOP leaders want another Republican to replace DeLay on the ballot and say state election law allows them to select one because DeLay has moved out of Texas. Democrats sued the Republicans to try to block them from picking a replacement nominee.
Lawyers for Texas Democrats argued that DeLay still owns a Houston-area home, where his wife Christine lives and where DeLay spends time. The Democrats also argued that it couldn't be shown conclusively whether DeLay would be an "inhabitant" of Texas on Election Day on Nov. 7.
Democrats want to keep DeLay and his legal troubles on the minds of voters and hope to win his former seat in the 22nd congressional district, where Democrat Nick Lampson is running.
"Now he's on the ballot, now he's off the ballot," said Lampson spokesman Mike Malaise. "We're just campaigning as if we have an opponent."
Republican leaders say they declared DeLay "ineligible" because of his move to Alexandria, Va., allowing the party to choose a new nominee. They say he did now "withdraw," a distinction that would have prevented the party from replacing him.
Democrats contend that GOP officials worked for months to manipulate the election system to ensure that they could hand-pick a new nominee after DeLay's primary.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, who issued the ruling, has indicated he expected an appeal.