With Delay's Win, Attention Moves to General Election

With Tom DeLay’s clear victory in the Republican primary on Tuesday, it is now time to look ahead to the General Election and examine the decision of former Congressman Steve Stockman to run for DeLay’s seat as an independent.  

To many of us, Stockman’s announcement back in January came as a shock. After all, DeLay has been a loyal friend of conservatives. In fact, we honored him this past summer. So news that a fellow conservative was running against him (technically, that’s what this is) raised eyebrows. Of course, Stockman argues that his motives are simply to ensure this seat stays in the conservative column.

The obvious question is: Will Stockman’s campaign serve help or hinder DeLay in the General Election?

Regardless of whether his motive is revenge against Democrat Nick Lampson (Stockman’s nemesis), ambition to return to Congress, or a genuine and noble desire to keep the seat conservative, Stockman may inadvertently help elect Lampson by splitting the conservative vote.

That would be both ironic and tragic.  

So here are my unresolved questions:

  • Is there an exit strategy?  
  • If DeLay is running strong in October, will Stockman step aside?
  • Couldn’t Stockman have accomplished his goal of attacking Lampson by simply starting a 527 or a PAC?

In recent years, third party candidates have arguably hurt the candidates most closely aligned with them, philosophically. For example the election of Bill Clinton was helped by former Republican Ross Perot, and "progressive" activist Ralph Nader certainly helped George W. Bush’s chances in 2000.  

Let’s hope we’re not witnessing the Texas version of this phenomenon.