Like everyone else, we were pretty much blindsided by Tom DeLay's sudden decision to quit the Congress. We figured he'd go out in one last blazing electoral race, reveling in the hatred of the socialist-feminazi-tree-hugging wackos, showing the world the carefree, can't-be-messed-with grin that he sported in his Harris County Sheriff's Office mug shot.
We guess things change when your top aides start lining up to cut plea deals with prosecutors.
It is difficult to imagine the Houston political scene without Tom DeLay, the impish way he pistol-whipped the state legislature into doing his bidding, his blithe manner in saying Christianity was under attack (by forces that don't control the White House, both houses of Congress and the courts).
But do we really have to imagine that sad world? Surely the good people of the 22nd District will take to the barricades to get Tom to change his mind. The mall food courts of Sugar Land will be filled with angry hordes chanting "Hey, Hey, Tom DeLay: Who Cares About Bribes, We Want You to Stay!"
Amazingly, this hasn't happened yet.
"I don't think I've heard anything to that effect," says Fort Bend County GOP chair Eric Thode, when asked if there has been an uprising to get DeLay to reconsider. "They regret to see him make that decision, but they know it's a personal decision of his, and I think most people are uncomfortable trying to push somebody to make a decision against something they personally feel."
Wimps. A feeble attitude like that isn't going to get the Hammer to stay. Remember, people -- he hasn't resigned anything yet. Mostly because doing so now would help the Democrats, but maybe -- just maybe -- it's a cry for help. Maybe Tom wants to be loved. Maybe he's sitting back, waiting hopefully for the outpouring that has yet to begin.
If the right-wingers of the 22nd won't step up to the plate, we will. Houston needs Tom DeLay (America, maybe not so much). So, as a public service -- Pulitzer judges, take note -- we offer to set the spark to ignite this revolution.
It'll take cash, though, something we're sure DeLay would understand. So please peruse the merchandise here and see what you can do to tell Tom to "Stay, DeLay!"
Man for the Job
Eric Thode, by the way, seems well equipped for his current duties of Fort Bend County GOP chair as the DeLay saga unfolds.
His recent work history: He was a flack for Enron ("Right there at the ugly part," he says), and after that he briefly owned a company that dealt with biohazardous waste -- the kind that's found at blood-splattered crime scenes. In other words, he cleaned up the mess after someone broke the law.
"Lots of interesting stories came out of it, needless to say," Thode recalls of his gore-mopping days. He doesn't really see any connection between his previous duties -- spinning for a corrupt enterprise, wading into the muck caused by criminals -- and his current stint.
Others, of course, are free to make their own conclusions.
Thode is giving up his chairman gig, after 14 years. "I decided I don't want to move up the political food chain, so I pretty much don't need to stay in this position," he says.
Since he no longer has his previous gigs -- he's a business executive with another company -- he doesn't have to worry about sleaziness or criminals. At least not after his term ends April 30.
Great Moments in Police Work
Officers of the Texas City Police Department were conducting a prostitution sting April 4. Things were going well -- eventually six hookers were arrested, no doubt the first step toward forever eradicating the problem of prostitution on the Gulf Coast.
Around midnight, according to police, the officers observed a Texas City PD patrol car pull up to one of the women posing as a working girl. TCPD officer Lee Marshall, a two-year veteran of the force, was later charged with the class B misdemeanor of solicitation of prostitution.
The department is not talking about the incident, beyond the bare bones contained in the arrest report and brief statements Chief Robert Burby made to The Galveston County Daily News.
If only they would answer questions; there are so many. First -- and it's not really a question, but -- He pulled up in a patrol car? Ballsy. (Burby did tell Hair Balls that Marshall was off-duty at the time.)
More important: Although Burby wouldn't confirm it, the arrest info indicates this was a sting run by TCPD. The department's Web site lists about 25 officers. A group shot on the home page shows very few are women. Didn't Marshall recognize his fellow officer? We guess a skanky wig and a miniskirt go a long way.
That must have been one embarrassing moment when the sting was pulled: "Umm, Lee? I work a couple of desks down from you. You're under arrest."
Marshall, who could not be contacted, has been suspended with pay.
I Said Don't Nominate Me
Republicans aren't the only people in the Fort Bend County area who are having trouble with candidates dropping out of races. The Democrats have their own embarrassing problem, albeit one that doesn't involve federal prosecutors.
Brenham doctor Henry Boehm Jr. filed for the Democratic nomination to replace retiring State Senator Ken Armbrister. A few days later he changed his mind, too late to get his name off the ballot.
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Despite telling everyone he was not a candidate, he beat Victoria businessman Bret Baldwin by 531 votes out of 21,000 cast. (That's gotta hurt in the Baldwin household.)
Boehm has informed the state Democratic Party he's sticking by his decision not to leave his medical practice to run or serve. His name won't be on the ballot, and the party can't replace him.
"It's definitely a regrettable situation," says state party spokeswoman Amber Moon. "But we respect Dr. Boehm's decision."
As does GOP candidate Glenn Hegar Jr., a state rep who now has a clear path to the Senate.