Sources: DeLay to leave House re-election race
Former majority leader to announce move Tuesday
From Dana Bash
Tom DeLay has represented his Texas district in the U.S. House for 21 years.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Tom DeLay will drop out of his re-election race, two Republican congressional sources told CNN on Monday.
DeLay was forced to step down as House majority leader last year after being indicted in his home state of Texas on charges that he improperly steered corporate donations to state legislative candidates in 2002. (Full story)
DeLay has denied wrongdoing, and continues to fight the charges. At the time, he blasted them as a "sham" and an act of "political retribution."
DeLay told Time magazine Monday that he and his wife, Christine, had been prepared for an election battle, but that he decided Wednesday to spare his suburban Houston district the expected bitter campaign.
"This had become a referendum on me," he told the magazine. "So it's better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what's important for this district." (Full story)
DeLay was calling supporters and colleagues Monday night to tell them of his decision, the sources told CNN. He was expected to announce his departure at a news conference Tuesday morning.
Last month, DeLay easily won a contested Republican primary for his seat, but his prospects in November were uncertain.
DeLay was to have faced Democrat Nick Lampson in the general election. Lampson, a former congressman, lost his seat in an adjacent district in 2004 after DeLay and his allies pushed a controversial reapportionment plan though the Texas Legislature, making Lampson's district more Republican.
"I feel that I could have won the race," DeLay told Time. "I just felt like I didn't want to risk the seat and that I can do more on the outside of the House than I can on the inside right now."
Last week, a former senior aide to DeLay pleaded guilty in federal court to fraud conspiracy, saying he joined a scheme with lobbyist Jack Abramoff and others to enrich themselves and illegally influence members of Congress.
In a deal with federal prosecutors, Tony Rudy -- DeLay's former deputy chief of staff and press secretary -- pleaded guilty to one count of mail and wire fraud in a conspiracy after he left DeLay's office to become a lobbyist. (Full story)
The criminal charging document identified Abramoff and Michael Scanlon -- another former DeLay aide -- as co-conspirators, but did not name DeLay or any member of Congress.
Sources close to the investigation said nothing in that charge implicates DeLay, a longtime Abramoff associate.
In the Time report, DeLay denied that he had done anything illegal while in office and defended the record of his staff.
"Two people violated my trust over 21 years," he told the magazine.
DeLay, nicknamed "The Hammer" during his tenure as GOP whip, has served in the House since 1985.
His decision to leave will put him out of the reach of the House ethics committee, which admonished him three times in 2004 over separate issues. The panel urged him to "temper" his future actions to comply with House rules and standards of conduct.
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