DeLay Seat May Remain Open

By Matthew C. Wright and Chris Cillizza
Friday, April 7, 2006

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said yesterday that he does not anticipate calling a special election before November to replace former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, which means the seat would stay open for much of the year.

DeLay, facing charges of money laundering and criminal conspiracy, announced this week that he will resign his seat by mid-June.

The governor "probably would not call [for the election] before November because we don't have DeLay's letter, and that triggers everything," Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said.

Once Perry receives DeLay's resignation, he has 20 days to call an emergency special election or to call a special election on the next regularly scheduled election date. Under state election code, Perry must receive DeLay's resignation by today to call an election for May 13, the next date Texas voters go to the polls.

The Democratic challenger running for DeLay's seat, former representative Nick Lampson, called on DeLay to resign immediately.

"We should hold the election on May 13" to avoid a gap of several months in representation for the suburban Houston district, Lampson said.

If DeLay resigns in June as expected, the next regularly scheduled election is the general election on Nov. 7. The Republican candidate will be chosen by the GOP chairmen in the four counties that make up the congressional district.

Labor Day Convention

Cancel those Labor Day 2008 plans.

The Republican National Committee announced yesterday it will hold the GOP nominating convention Sept. 1-4, 2008 -- just days after the Democrats formally choose their nominee on Aug. 28.

"Our next nominee for President will enjoy the benefit of an exciting and dynamic national convention," RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman said in a statement.

Scheduling the conventions within days of one another marks a major break with tradition and is the result of gamesmanship between the two national party committees.

In 2000, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush was nominated on Aug. 3, two weeks before Vice President Al Gore became the official Democratic standard-bearer. Four years later Democrats nominated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry on July 29; Republicans didn't formally put Bush forward until more than a month later.

As a result of the timing, Kerry was forced to begin spending public-provided general election dollars a month before Bush -- putting him at a major disadvantage, according to many Democratic strategists.

Hoping to avoid a repeat of that situation, the Democratic National Committee announced its dates last November. Republicans privately seethed, arguing that the DNC's move was intended to box them into holding their convention before the Summer Olympics, which run Aug. 8-24.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company