Hammer Down? Don't Bet On It

Tom Delay handily won his Republican primary election for another term in the House of Representatives over three challengers, pulling in over 60% of the vote. Democrats have targeted his seat as a possible pickup in their drive to retake control of the House that they lost in 1994.

Delay's well-publicized legal travails forced him to step down as the GOP's number two man in the House, and his connections to sleaze merchant Jack Abramoff don't help either. But it would be a mistake to misunderestimate the Hammer. The man knows how to run a campaign. He is tough, and he has money, and he is an incumbent...and House incumbents lose about as often as Ted Kennedy speaks coherently.

The charges brought against Delay by partisan donkey prosecutor Ronnie Earle are widely regarded in non-Democratic legal circles as a joke, and the ones that haven't already been dismissed are unlikely to result in a conviction. That case is scheduled to be heard next month, meaning that in all probability, the issue will be long settled by the November election date.

Delay does have work to do. As part of the Texas redistricting, he took more Democratic voters into his district to protect other more vulnerable Republicans. He "only" received 55% of the vote in 2004 (although a ten point win is the official political definition of a landslide). He must convince the voters of his district that he can and will represent them effectively. But he has a machine in place and a lot of favors accumulated over the years.

So taking everything into account, those who want to bet against Delay had better do it with money they can afford to lose.


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