GOP Boondoggle in Texas District 22

A glorious update to an earlier story on District 22. According to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, either incumbent Tom DeLay must agree to run for the office from which he retired last month, or the Republican Party will have no congressional candidate to run against Democrat Nick Lampson and Libertarian Bob Smither in November:

“Tom DeLay is not ineligible to be the Republican Party nominee for the United States House of Representatives from Texas District 22,” Judge Sparks said in his ruling. “…any previous declaration of ineligibility made by Benkiser is void.”

DeLay had announced in April that he intended to resign from Congress, which he did June 9. A day earlier, Benkiser declared him ineligible to appear on the November ballot, based on documents showing he’d become a Virginia resident.

In his analysis of the case, Judge Sparks said, “After the smoke clears, it appears the real issue in this case is whether the Republican Party can avoid DeLay’s de facto withdrawal from the race by declaring him ineligible for the general election in order to replace him with another Republican candidate on the general election ballot.

“Under these circumstances, it seems clear the Texas election laws would prohibit such a replacement after the primary election if the winning candidate withdrew from the general election.”

Oh please oh please oh please let Tom DeLay have half a brain and drop from the race on his own… the GOP would have little choice than to bite the bullet and throw their remaining support behind Libertarian candidate Bob Smither (someone jump onto his web team, stat).

Update: Political Wire has more reactions… notably absent is the backlash against Democrats if they succeed. Which I still contend is a winner for a third party candidate, even if it weren’t one of ours.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. I hope the Texas LP is on this. They need to start talking to the GOP and offer them Smither as a “back-up” plan.
    PULEEEZ Texas, be all on this ASAP.

  2. Careful. The TRUE libertarians will accuse you of being a GOP plant out to sabotage the libertarian movement. I’m surprised one hasn’t already posted a warning on here.

  3. They can call me whatever the hell they like… I’m with andrew on this. Smither is the only vote that Republican conservatives should be looking at if DeLay decides to stay off the ballot (hell, if he stays ON the ballot even).

    I’d even be willing to go so far as to offer one of our margin candidates (one who can swing the race but can’t actually win) in TX to step down if they’d throw their weight behind us here, but that’s just the practical side of me talking.

    TX is looking to be the foothold of our national aspirations more and more every day, we should be exploiting it in any way we can.

  4. Tim said: “The TRUE libertarians will accuse you of being a GOP plant out to sabotage the libertarian movement”

    I can handle that risk. I am saying that we need to convince the Republicans that:
    1) We are the closest thing that they will have to choose from to thier point of view (EVEN IF WE ARE NOT! THIS IS MARKETING!) and
    2) sadly, but a point that needs to be stressed to them is that we will be easier to get the seat back from next time around. If it turns “D” it will stay “D” – if it turns “L” who knows what would happen .

  5. Stephen, email our Executive Director, Wes Benedict, at wesliberty at aol dot com, if you’ve got good ideas for him. He’s awesome at making himself available.

    And, if somebody wants Smithers to have a better website, well, email him and volunteer.

  6. The matter is now under appeal so it is too early to start hobnobbing with Republicans. It is not too early to get Bob’s campaign in better position to benefit if things shake out like it seems they very well may. Please help out if you can.

  7. This has now surpassed TX-10 as our best shot at electing a Libertarian congressman.

    However, Lampson raised a great deal of cash from the lefties when it looked like he would be going head to head with DeLay.

    Courting and mobilizing the Republicans will be very important.

  8. LOL. The Republicans would rather watch their own children down than vote Libertarian. Not going to happen. Why don’t you people understand that the GOP is not remotely interested in anything we have to offer? They will just concede that the Dem will win and boo hoo. Or, they will fire up a write in campaign in protest because their holy hero scumbag isn’t running. Actually, they would still vote Delay.

  9. Smither seems like a fairly moderate libertarian (FairTax fan, etc.), so it’s very easy to see Republicans more willing to cast a vote for him than Lampson.

    He also looks like a pretty respectable guy. I would guess that IF the Republicans fail in appeal, they may at least consider backing him if he promised to caucus with the Republicans in congress (vote w/ R’s on procedural issues).

    They do kind-of tolerate Ron Paul, after all.

  10. Devious David:

    There have been times in recent history where we (by we I mean people in the LP Mich not including myself) have worked with Republicans to get legislation passed. If anything, I understand it was the Libertarians (individuals, not the party) who wanted to throw the whole thing down the drain.

    It was also the Republicans who helped my campaign last year. GOP people: actual party members worked my campaign to oust a Democrat. They called me a fellow conservative, as I was pro schools of choice and spending cuts.

    The hard part is taking the first step. The GOP is scrambling for a solution down there, and we may be able to hand them something acceptable. We need to market the conservative side of the platform to them.

  11. How about some hardball if, in fact, the GOP ends up with no candidate? If you guys support Smither, the Texas LP will not put any money behind any other LP congressional candidates. And Smither will promise to vote with the GOP caucus for organizational purposes in Congress. Or, turn down the offer, and the Texas LP will put all its money into several other races where the GOP congressional candidate could be defeated with a strong third party effort. A lot of Libertarians always thought the first LP congressman would be elected through extraordinary circumstances.

  12. I cannot believe what I am reading here. Finally, a bunch of fellow libertarians thinking and speaking in a rational way. This kind of thinking wins elections, not Paulie dribble.

  13. Bob is a great guy. His webpage photo doesn’t do him justice either; he looks younger in person. He had his family at the state convention; they would make a great campaign photo.

  14. If this ruling is upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and disgraced former Congressman Tom DeLay ultimately removes his name from the ballot, the GOP can be expected to mount a multi-million dollar write-in effort rather than concede this heavily-Republican district to the Democrats. That being said, I hope Bob Smither positions himself as the Libertarian candidate to garner thousands of votes from those who might view a write-in candidacy as hopeless, or simply won’t go to the trouble and effort of casting a write-in ballot.

    It’s too bad Michael Badnarik and his advisors didn’t have the foresight or political savvy to run for DeLay’s seat ”” a high-profile race that was guaranteed serious national media coverage ”” instead of wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars in a forlorn and unwinnable race against an immensely popular and heavily-funded Republican lawmaker in the nearby 10th district.

  15. Darcy Richardson is right – the Republicans will spend lots of money pushing a GOP write-in candidate before they will back the Libertarian.

    In Michigan in the 1990s a Nazi won a Republican primary for Congress. There was a Libertarian on the ballot against the incumbent Democrat. The Republicans put up a write-in candidate rather than back the Libertarian.

  16. Gene Berkman: Remember that through much of the 1990s, the GOP was still playing the role of the 2nd-party underdog. Now that they have a distinct possibility of losing major ground in both houses, they may see it as no-loss situation to at least deny a Democrat a seat in a once-safe district.

    As someone else said, their odds of getting the seat back from an incumbent Libertarian are greater than from an in incumbent Democrat.

    That’s the carrot… the stick is that we’ll hurt them by running harder against them in tight margin districts to deny them those seats. Eventually we need to make them face the music of necessary cooperation with us.

  17. OK….I am going to try and make this short. The Smither Campaign has begun. We are NOT sitting on our duffs. We are engaged in the press and the Dems are attacking not only Smither, but myself and Ron Paul.

    We had our first organizational meeting last night and raised a significant amount of money, and a pledge that will double what we brought in via passing the hat.

    If you want specific information, contact me directly at ktunstall – at – fortbendlp – dot – org.

    Oh…Devious Dave…YOU DO NOT know my district. Please do not make assumptions.

    Thank you.

  18. Best of luck! I sincerely hope you make me look like an ass for what I have said, but I stand firmly behind it. I am almost never wrong. On those rare occasions when I am, however it is dramatic. This is not one of those occasions, now that I know Delay will probably still run. Republicans will not defect in any number if Delay runs or even if he doesn’t. They like his crookedness. They probably wish Ken Lay was still alive so he could run in Delay’s place. But, then again… I don’t know your district. Were it the aberration that it would necessarily be in order to support your claim, Delay likely would have never been elected in the first place.