Skip to comments.Why DeLay Quit
Posted on 04/04/2006 6:14:48 PM PDT by Frank T
Rep. Tom DeLay says he made the decision to leave Congress after taking a poll in his Texas district which showed he had no better than a 50-50 chance of winning reelection this November.
In a long discussion with conservative journalists Tuesday afternoon, DeLay discussed the Republican primary he faced last month, which he won with 62 percent of the vote. While some observers called that an impressive win, given the controversy that surrounds DeLay, the congressman himself said that was when he knew he had a problem.
"After the primary you get a sixth sense about this stuff," DeLay said. "You know your district...You don't need polls, but we ran a poll anyway. And the poll showed, basically, that I had a 50-50 chance of winning." DeLay said he had commissioned a similar poll late last year, and "the one after the primary was slightly worse than the one in December" suggesting that his support was shrinking.
"Sixty-two percent was kind of a lift around here," DeLay said. "People gave me a lot of credit for 62 percent. But for a 21-year incumbent, 62 percent I mean, it's good, but it should have been 70-percent-plus. Sixty-two percent means 38 percent voted against me. So I wanted a poll done. We did the poll. I was going to spend whatever it took to decide what I was supposed to do, whether to get in or get out."
DeLay said that after the primary, "I spent a lot of time in prayer. Spent all the time in prayer." He said he talked to a number of people who are close to him, and he got the impression that he should stay in the race. "I thought right after the primary, I was supposed to go through this," he said. "What's that saying? Hardened by fire? But as time went on it was quite evident that I was supposed to evaluate the election and face reality, and the reality was I wasn't supposed to go through this, that I am supposed to get involved outside the House. I can do more good outside the House in the next few months than being locked in the 22nd District trying to fight a reelection campaign."
"I have a very strong base, an incredibly strong base," DeLay continued. "I've never seen anything like it. People that would die for me. I also have a very strong opposition that would kill me if they could get hold of me."
Such polarization, DeLay said, left very few undecideds. "What's left are soft moderate Republicans," DeLay explained, "and independents that will vote for anybody but Tom DeLay, that believe for whatever reason that he's a crook, or where there's smoke, there's fire, so the beating that I've been taking has had that impact. And what I saw was it would take a ton of money to take that small group that I could appeal to and turn them around in the face of getting beat up every day by the mainstream media and paid-for 527s."
DeLay attributed many of his problems to Ronnie Earle, the Texas county district attorney who has indicted DeLay on campaign-finance charges. "He used this case to drag my name through the mud," DeLay said, "and he has abused the grand jury-process to drag my name through the mud."
The problem, DeLay explained, was the interplay of Earle's investigation and a House GOP rule that requires members of the leadership to step down if they are indicted. "I truly believe that the only reason I was indicted is because we have that stupid rule that is, politically, the stupidest thing we've ever done," DeLay said. The rule, he continued, in essence "allows the Democrats to pick the Republican leadership."
"But we have it," DeLay continued. "I honored it."
Now that he will soon be out, DeLay said, he feels confident that a Republican will win the seat from his district, which President Bush carried with 64 percent of the vote in 2004. "People say, isn't this a defeat?" DeLay said. "No, it's an incredible victory. Because the 22nd District is going to have a Republican fill that seat, guaranteed. That's what my polls show. Any Republican running as a Republican will walk into that seat."
DeLay also predicted that his departure from the race will hurt the candidacy of Democratic challenger Nick Lampson, who has benefited from support and money from Democrats all around the country who wanted to see DeLay go down in defeat. "Nick Lampson's money is going to dry up," DeLay said. "He's going to have to talk about what he believes in. He's got as bad a liberal Democrat voting record as Sheila Jackson Lee. We've done our opposition research, and he does not fit this district. I consider that a victory....We will have a Republican, and I will be out doing what I do best, and that is strategizing to lead the conservative cause and elect Republicans."
When the talk turned to the Abramoff scandal, and the guilty plea of former DeLay deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy, DeLay said he had no idea that Rudy had been engaged in any criminal activity.
"The leadership office is a whirlwind of activity all day long," DeLay said. "There are things going on constantly. Maybe my management style is suspect. But we hired and had and always have had one of the best staffs on the Hill. Why? Because I hired people that wanted to accomplish the same things that I wanted to accomplish, and I have given them responsibilities and have trusted them to carry out those responsibilities. Unfortunately that trust was mishandled, obviously, by Tony Rudy. He admitted to it. That disappoints me greatly. But it had nothing to do with me."
DeLay said he has not seen the Rudy plea agreement. One section of that agreement says that, "In March and April 2000, Rudy obtained a letter from Representative #2 [DeLay] to an Executive Branch official opposing a postal rate increase that would have harmed one of Abramoff's clients." When asked about that, DeLay said he suspected that Rudy knew DeLay would be opposed to such an increase and tried to profit from that knowledge. "Frankly, what it sounds like from what I read in the media was that they were trading off of knowing that I would already be in those positions," DeLay said. "I have always opposed postal rate increases. So you know this one's coming up, DeLay's going to be against it, so I'm going to make some money off of it, telling so-and-so and so-and-so that I can get DeLay to be against it. Maybe that's what they were doing, it sounds like to me."
As for another former aide, DeLay said he "ran off" Michael Scanlon. "Scanlon we didn't fire him, but we found him another job," DeLay said. "I'm not surprised about Scanlon, but I am shocked and surprised about Tony Rudy."
As for himself, DeLay said he asked his lawyers to do a thorough review of all of his dealings in Congress. "I spent a lot of money and four months of lawyers investigating me as if they were prosecuting me," DeLay said. "They have looked at everything that I've got for 20 years, the whole time I'm here, and there ain't nothing."
"There is absolutely nothing illegal in my operation. There's nothing untoward. There's nothing unethical. We also cooperated with the Department of Justice, given them everything we've got."
"They asked for it?"
"No. We just gave it to them."
DeLay said the material he gave the Justice Department included "anything connected to Tony Rudy, Ed Buckham, Abramoff, or Scanlon." Beyond that, DeLay said he has had no contact with prosecutors. "None," he said. "And they have told my lawyers I'm not a target of the investigation. Of course, we have been saying that for three months and the press refuses to write about it."
Finally, DeLay addressed the work he did on the issue of lobbying and the so-called "K Street Project." "I am actually very proud of the K Street Project," DeLay said. "When we came in, I realized right away in 1995 that we may have taken the majority, but we haven't changed the culture of Washington, D.C. And I immediately started strategizing to change that culture. I mean, how in the world could you maintain a majority up here if all of K Street were Democrat lobbyists that owed their power and their checkbook to the Democrats, and their friends who were out of power?"
"We put together, I think, one of the largest and strongest political coalitions ever. We turned the culture from K Street contributing 70 percent of its campaign funds to Democrats and 30 percent to Republicans to today 60 percent Republican, 40 percent Democrat....It was so well done that the Democrats hate it, and they're working as hard as they can to destroy it."
And therein lies the problem, of the fall of the class of '94. Delay helped knee-cap the conservative reform movement early on.
He was concerned to a much greater extent of party over principle, and neglected to consider that voters put in a GOP majority on the basis of change and reform, and not for any particular affection for the party.
If '94 was to stand for anything, it was to shrink the size and reach of the Feds. Part of that means shrinking the power of lobbyists too, not just switching who K street gives money to, for re-election campaigns. If people still want that nonsense, it should have been moved down to state level, as much as humanly possible.
Interesting that Delay fingers soft moderate Republicans as the difference between winning and losing in '06. His own primary contest showed that a good chunk of the conservative base voted against him. Much of the rest were too loyal not to do their job.
Thank God He communicated with Delay and told him to scram.
Good riddance. Delay, while great in the minority, decided that when the GOP came to power the most important thing to do was to replace a democratic pork and patronage machine with a GOP one... and thus the end of the modern conservative movement.
Loser...good ridance....if there's more like him.....
DeLay is an honorable man and has been an excellent House leader. There are precious few like him in D.C. I've never heard of another elected representative who voluntarily stepped down for the good of his party, have you?
Don't they all, at some point?
Well, for congressmen at least, they can step down and become...lobbyists. There's a financian incentive for many, thanks to people like Delay who perpetuate this system.
He's a good man. Can't blame him simplifying his day if he has some other work requiring his immediate attention.
The rats and media besmirched a good man and a great Republican. This is politics at its worst with no resemblance to reality.
Only the future will tell, but I hope DeLay comes back to politics. The reason he had been a target for so many years is because he was an effective vote counter and fundraiser. DeLay/Ascroft 08
I don't get it. We complain when Republican politicians don't fight hard enough to enlarge our majority and we complain when they fight too hard. I guess we need Goldilocks to pick our politicians so they fight just the right amount.
Livingstone stepped down when the rumors of his fooling around came out after he was named speaker of the house.
How quick they fall. And I thought only Rats ate their own while abandoning a sinking ship. Shades of Newt.
Apparently, Tom will move to Virginia to become a lobbyist. This may freak out the leftists more than before. He sat down after the bell rang - but since it's only round one, the fight isn't over...
True. Livingston had a conscience, something clinton lacked.
As I said on another thread:
I listened to his whole interview with Matthews tonight; he was so relaxed and seemed so at peace, I think the entire area inside the Beltway better be worried.
He was also a target over the Texas redistricting. The Dems never forgave him that, even though the state is no longer Democrat majority.
His demeanor was he same on Brit's show tonight. He said that he thought he'd be more effective now that he will be out of Congress. Given the present climate, I think so too. He has effectively neutalized the dems plan to make him a target. (Sometime down the road, I hope Ronnie Earle gets his comeuppance.)
Once he kicks Ronnie Earle's behind, he's free and clear to improve on the Pubbie's majority. A lightening rod? You bet. And he's ready for it...
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
There's two ways of thinging about this, if the goal is for a conservative majority, and not simply a party affiliation majority.
First, one strategy is to polorize the electorate, such that the "moderates" choose what they see as the lesser of two evils. We hope they see a conservative GOP as such. This works because it gets their votes, but deprives them of significant power.
Another way, and the more honorable one, is to convert people to conservatism. Find issues that hit close to them on a more personal/local level, and pursuade them that a change in politics can affect change in their lives. How much more this can be done, who knows? But can you honestly say that Delay made more Americans conservative? Or did he just squeeze more dollars to the right?
It is becoming apparent that the people running this party nowadays are becoming more detached, more elite, and answer to money, not as much to the people who vote them in. NOT a recipe for success, because we are too smart for that.
And yes, we do need to pick politicians that will do just the right thing. Better than getting scalded.
Why DeLay Quit..........?
Lobbying pays better?
"In addition, it drains out the momentum from the Democrats drive to take back the House - an easily identifiable symbol of Republican excess and corruption is gone."
A six year term limit would effectively take care of that problem, without taking his fellow encumbants to the brink.
Delay is one shrewd man. I believe he made the decision now because he knew the McKinney fiasco would provide perfect cover. Because of McKinney's incessant and irritating magpie squawkings, the Democrats have been preoccupied and unable to really mount a well-coordinated media blitz to rally the troops around the Delay-ethics theme they've been working hard to make the centerpiece of their election year strategy.
So far named...Livingston and Nixon...both Republicans. Perhaps I should have rephrased my question to say, "I've never known of another elected DEMOCRAT...."
In due time, it should be Delay for United States Senate.
Thanks for posting. Interesting.
Easier to jump through the eye of a needle than see that happen.
DeLay told Brit tonight that it took him 4 weeks to make this decision. You demean this man when you speculate that Cynthia McKinney's latest example of her despicable arrogance has anything to do w/that decision IMO.
He COULD jump to a VEEP slot. Bush/DeLay? I'm jazzed...
Bless you for that comment. I think DeLay is a good man who could not withstand the concerted attacks coming from the left and even within his own party.
"I can do more good outside the House in the next few months than being locked in the 22nd District trying to fight a reelection campaign."
This statement says it all. He definitely CAN do a lot of good in the coming months without the worry of a campaign.
We have a lot of serious issues on our plate and we need a strong man like Tom DeLay to beat the crap out of the looney left. (Figuratively speaking of course).
That's like suggesting that Patton actually loved small furry animals and growing orchids, that people who suggest he was a nitroblast in-your-face meatgrinder on the battlefield "demean his memory."
And interesting read regarding DeLay's decision....
What makes people angry is that he got things done. Look what we have left. We can't even plug the border with the wimps we have now.
Don't put me in this box, "MR" Delay. Where there is smoke there IS fire.
You quitting only validated my cynicism.
I truly believe elective office is behind him.
The good of his party? No politician does anything for the good of his party. He did this for personal reasons, whatever they may be
So it was the internal polls.
Interesting, and thanks for the ping, deport.
Let's not delude ourselves. DeLay did not step down for the good of the party, rather because he knew his indictment was imminent. If it was really for the good of the party, he would finish the rest of his term, while bowing out of the next election. Instead, he is taking an early retirement, beginning in June.
1. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on honorable man, but I have my doubts.
2. He was a piss-poor house leader who destroyed the conservative movement by pushing the idea that the most imporant thing was establishing a GOP patronage machine, not pushing for the principles that made them a majority in the first place.
3. Yes, I do. Tom Coburn and the other honorable few from the class of '94 who stuck with their term-limit pledges.
That's too bad. Delay possesses amazing political instincts and powerful leadership skills. He drew the full force of the liberal attack because because he was so dangerously effective. We need more like him. A lot more.
Hello, he was already indicted a long time ago.
You dead wrong. Delay was a powerfully effective force.
But what would he (and the rabid leftists) do if he won as a write-in candidate? Let the fur fly!
We complain when they make enlarging the majority a goal at the expense of actually doing what they were elected to do.
Delay quit because:
1. The aide turned witness has something to incriminate him.
2. The aide turned witness will result in such bad-sounding PR that it cannot be overcome before the election.
Yes, he was very powerful and very effective...the problem is that in the majority he used that power to create a GOP patronage machine at the expense of principal... if not, if he was so powerful, why are spending earmarkts out of control?
That's your first post? I smell a troll...
Democrats in Congress are ecstatic to see Delay gone. And it isn't because he was perceived as weak and counterproductive to the Republican cause.
You were RIGHT!