Scandal Turning DeLay Into Liability

Political pundits are saying the corruption scandal surrounding Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff has already made it close to impossible for Congressman Tom DeLay to return as House Majority Leader in the next Congress.

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Rice University political scientist Bob Stein says Delay and lobbyist Abramoff have been friends for years, but with Abramoff pleading guilty to bribing politicians and spreading favors all over Washington in behalf of his clients, and with Delay facing trial on corruption charges of his own, some Republicans are afraid DeLay is becoming the poster child for corruption, which Democrats will use to win elections in November.

"It's not so much that he took any money, which he did and he's now returning to charities, it's that he is a constant reminder because of his own indictment and possible trial. Worse is that it looks like his trial, if there is a trial, will not occur until probably late spring or early summer. Again, it's a constant reminder."

Stein says regardless of whether Delay took money or favors from Abramoff or not, and no matter when he comes to trial in Texas or how it turns out, Delay is a big and growing liability for the GOP, and he wouldn't put money on Delay's chances of being House Majority Leader again.

"I would say they're diminishing with every day. They're surely not any better than chance -- 50-50. You don't see a lot of people now in the Congressional delegation from Texas, or for that matter anywhere else in the country, rallying around the congressman."

Some Congressional Republicans are now talking openly of the need to elect a new majority leader. Today's Houston Chronicle quotes Florida Congressman Jeff Flake as saying "Unfairly or not, DeLay has become a symbol of a culture gone bad in Washington."

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