Congressman Tom Delay sent a letter to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert asking him to convene the House Republican Conference as soon as possible for the purpose of electing a new Majority Leader. DeLay says the decision will benefit Congress and the 22nd Congressional District, but his resignation has no bearing on the charges against him.
"In the 21 years I have been in Congress, I have always acted in an ethical manner, within the rules of the House and the laws of our land. And time, once again, will bear out that truth."
DeLay will run for re-election in the 22nd and says he plans to put on a vigorous campaign. His major opponent will be former Congressman and Democrat Nick Lampson. Lampson says the legacy DeLay leaves behind is not good for the people of Southeast Texas.
"I think what this does do, is it shows that he can no longer deny that this was not a partisan play. Even his own party has turned on him now and we can see that we need new leadership, not just for District 22 but for this country. I'm hoping that that's the direction we'll go."
Rice University Political Science Professor Bob Stein says DeLay is a practical politician and Stein thinks DeLay resigned because he knew he would not be able to win reelection to the position.
"The irony of all of this is not only do we lose an important voice as the Majority Leader, but one of the consequences of Tom DeLay's redistricting that led to this laundering charge was that we don't really have any leadership on either side of the aisle in Washington now."
DeLay says he will reclaim his seat on the House Appropriations Committee and will support the Republican party in the search for a new Majority Leader. Missouri Congressman Roy Blount, who temporarily filled in as Majority Leader, is expected to run for the position. Ohio Congressman John Boehner may also be a candidate. DeLay faces criminal charges of money laundering and is expected to go to trial this year.