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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2006
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EDITORIAL

DeLay now fighting to stay out of prison

Powerful politicians don't give up their power base unless they have a viable choice.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said Monday that he will not seek re-election this year and will resign this spring.

Mr. DeLay, who is under indictment back home for allegedly misapplying political funds and tampering with the election process, also finds the trail of admitted criminal, former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, leading awfully close to his congressional door. One of his former aides, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty to involvement with Mr. Abramoff in corrupting public officials, and agreed to testify in the ongoing case.

But Mr. DeLay says his concern is that Republicans hold on to his Houston congressional seat in a race that was shaping up as a "Anybody but DeLay" campaign for Democrats.

He said his continuation in the race would have called attention nationally to his problems as one of the most powerful politicians in Washington until a Texas grand jury indicted him last year.

National Republicans were, no doubt, exerting pressure on this badly flawed star of conservatives to remove himself from the national debate that Democrats are calling a culture of corruption within the GOP.

In leaving Congress early, Mr. DeLay is hedging his future.

He was likely to lose re-election. But in withdrawing, he might make more political friends within the judicial system than he has at the polling places.

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