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More Debate on DeLay’s Future

The Houston Chronicle has an article on DeLay’s future in which fiscal conservative Jeff Flake makes the case for holding new elections for House Majority Leader in January. Today’s NRO editorial calls on Republicans to give DeLay a little more time before they take that step. In the words of the editorial, why should “DeLay’s Republican colleagues hand the partisan Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle a victory he can’t win in court”?
That’s a position I have a great deal of respect for. I’ve been cataloguing the vile nature of this prosecution from the start. There’s no denying that DeLay has done great things for the conservative movement. He was deprived of his post via illegitimate means. And his absense has had real consequences. The House Republicans who squished on ANWR and the deficit-reduction bill? You never saw that kind of misbehavior when DeLay was leader.
My only question is this: As a tactical matter, how long should conservatives wait for DeLay? His lawyers give a best-case estimate, if the case goes to trial, of an early February wrap-up. I can see giving DeLay that long. But what if the trial stretches further? Should conservatives’ efforts be better spent trying to make sure we have the right guy lined up for the Majority Leader spot if it does come to a vote? At what point do we start looking at the other candidates and making a case for someone like Mike Pence, the head of the Republican Study Committee who led Operation Offset?
I think we should vigorously defend DeLay from Ronnie Earle’s baseless prosecution. But I also think we should be having a debate over the future leadership of the House GOP.

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