Dogged by scandal, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Tuesday he will do whatever is necessary to remove his name from the ballot, a step that will allow the party to field a write-in candidate in hopes of holding his seat in Texas.
DeLay acted one day after Texas Republicans lost a court battle in their bid to name a replacement candidate for him on the November ballot.
"I will take the actions necessary to remove my name from the Texas ballot. To do anything else would be hypocrisy," DeLay said in a statement. "I strongly encourage the Republican Party to take any and all actions necessary to give Texas voters an up-or-down choice this fall between two major party candidates."
There was every sign they were trying. Sugar Land, Texas, Mayor David Wallace is the expected pick for the Republicans’ write-in campaign to replace DeLay.
Wallace has name recognition and money-raising ability that party officials need to take on former Congressman Nick Lampson, the Democratic nominee.
DeLay resigned his Houston-area seat in June and said he was switching his legal residence to Virginia. He had already won a primary in Texas, and Republican officials there moved to name a replacement candidate.
Democrats went to court to block the switch, and prevailed.
The maneuvering underscored the intensity of the battle between the two national parties as they vie for control of Congress in the midterm elections.
DeLay had held the House seat for more than two decades, but yielded his power - first surrendering his post as majority leader, then resigning his seat - at the urging of party leaders who said he risked defeat this fall and that his presence on the ballot could hamper other incumbents.
He is awaiting trial in Texas state court on money laundering charges alleging that illegal corporate cash helped pay for legislative campaigns in 2002. DeLay also had close ties to Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the center of a congressional corruption investigation.
DeLay has not been charged in that investigation, although two former aides who later developed ties to Abramoff have entered into plea bargains.
The remaining campaign
Lampson, the Democratic candidate in the race, has amassed more than $2 million in his campaign treasury as of June 30 in preparation for a race against DeLay.
Wallace, too, has been raising money, initially expecting to be named the replacement for DeLay. He had slightly more than $157,000 in his campaign bank account on June 30.
Texas Republicans on Monday abandoned their court fight to replace DeLay on the November ballot, conceding defeat after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ruled against them.
"I think all our legal avenues are exhausted in terms of affecting the ruling prior to the election," said Jim Bopp Jr., the attorney who argued the Republican Party's case to allow party officials to substitute another candidate for DeLay.