In a June 7 article on Republican efforts to win back the congressional seat formerly held by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), now belonging to Democrat Nick Lampson, The Politico reported that no Republican appeared on the ballot in the 22nd District in 2006 "[b]ecause of DeLay's withdrawal from the race and retirement from Congress in June 2006." The article did not note that DeLay resigned his seat following his indictment in Texas on money laundering and conspiracy charges relating to a campaign finance probe and that two of DeLay's former staffers, press secretary Michael Scanlon and deputy chief of staff Tony C. Rudy, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Moreover, by only noting DeLay's "retirement" from Congress, the article ignored reports that he resigned because his poll numbers were low and his re-election in doubt. A December 5, 2005, CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll "suggest[ed] the criminal charges against Rep. Tom DeLay have taken a toll on his political support back home in his solidly Republican House district." And in an April 5, 2006, article on DeLay's decision to resign from Congress, The Washington Post reported that "[s]everal associates said DeLay was particularly influenced by poll results he received after his victory in the Republican primary on March 7, which made clear that his 'negatives' in the district -- a routine tally of voters' emotional hostility toward him -- were high." The previous day, the Post had reported that "[f]ormer aides and sources close to DeLay said his decision was motivated not by Rudy's guilty plea but by DeLay's concerns that he might lose his suburban Houston seat to his Democratic opponent, former representative Nick Lampson, and his belief that another Republican could win instead." A federal judge later ruled that DeLay's name had to stay on the ballot.
As Media Matters for America has noted, in a June 5 article on the political implications of the June 4 corruption-related indictment of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), The Politico baselessly suggested the "culture of corruption" on Capitol Hill is bipartisan and described DeLay simply as "scandal-plagued," but did not note that he was indicted. Further, on April 23, The Politico ran an op-ed by DeLay in which he falsely alleged that "George Soros, upset with the slight inroads conservatives have made recently, has funded an organization called Media Matters for America, led by liberal muckraker David Brock." On April 26, The Politico ran a correction of DeLay's op-ed.
From the June 7 Politico article:
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay represented the 22nd District for nearly 22 years, winning strong support for his outspoken brand of conservatism. Voters there backed President George W. Bush by a nearly two-thirds margin in 2004. The district's base of Sugar Land, Texas, was even featured in The Washington Post as the country's best representation of the conservative heartland.
Given the district's rightward moorings, this is the type of seat that the National Republican Congressional Committee needs to win to have any chance of taking back the House majority it lost in 2006.
Lampson claimed the seat last year in a race where he was the beneficiary of some good fortune. Because of DeLay's withdrawal from the race and retirement from Congress in June 2006, no Republican was eligible to appear on last year's ballot. Even so, GOP write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs won 42 percent of the vote against Lampson. She served in Congress for two months at the end of the year to complete DeLay's unexpired term.