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Friday, September 16, 2005

Katrina and the House of Delay

Hard not to snicker when you hear Tom Delay claim that there's no fat left in the federal budget. Sites like ArgMax are having a good time poking fun at our illustrious Majority Leader for this one. And it was a bit hard to believe -- here you have a guy who has dedicated his career in government to comforting the comfortable and slashing programs for the poor, and yet he's out there saying that there are no offsets in the budget for Katrina expenditures.

But an insider friend points out that many, many of the evacuees from the Gulf Coast most likely are settling in Delay's Houston district. Many of these evacuees are poor and African-American: not exactly the prototypical supporter of Mr. Delay.

As part of his intracensal redistricting scheme to add congressional seats for the GOP, Delay substantially diluted his support in his own district, and people were already characterizing next year's reelection campaign as a potentially tough one for him (having your top associates repeatedly indicted for actions they took in tandem with your own doesn't exactly help, either). Add tens of thousands of poor African-Americans who are unlikely to have started out as GOP fans and are the victims of the initial evident indifference of Republican "leaders" in Washington, and you start to see why a guy like Tom might not want to delay his embrace of a spend-at-all-costs policy.

Here are two interesting questions: by how many votes did Delay win last year, and how many evacuees have moved into his district?

On a related matter, what in the world will happen to Congressional districts in and around New Orleans for next year's midterm election? I don't think it would be constitutional to eliminate those districts before the next Census has been completed (by which time they may be largely if not fully repopulated). The big question wil be how many evacuees return to their original districts by next November. Suppose only a few do --- is William Jefferson going to be elected just like W, 5-4? (Of course, Jefferson has other problems, and he may be gone by then anyway.) I don't imagine there's any basis for contesting an election with a tiny electorate (though the House could always refuse to seat its winner, which is very hard to imagine happening).

Update: Tom Bozzo says in the comments that DeLay won by only 38,000 votes last year. Meanwhile, if I recall correctly, today's WaPo says that 2/3 of the Houston-area evacuees plan to stay there. Time to take back the House, without Delay?


Blogger Tom Bozzo said...

DeLay won by about 38,000 votes.

9/16/2005 2:33 PM  

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