Hammer, Strike Thyself

by David Weigel

The smart guys at Congressional Quarterly, never ones to miss salt being rubbed into a politician's wound, predict that Republicans will lose Tom DeLay's House seat.

The Texas Republican Party establishment has rallied around a single candidate, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, in their unusual write-in campaign to salvage the 22nd Congressional District seat vacated in June by Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader. But the extreme rarity of successful write-in campaigns for Congress and the presence of a solid Democratic nominee on the ballot in former Rep. Nick Lampson has prompted CQPolitics.com to change its rating on the 22nd District race to Leans Democratic from No Clear Favorite.

This is crushing news for a GOP that can only afford losing 14 seats before it loses the House. But perhaps it's good for the mental health of the Democratic party. Not since the Republican shellackings of the Kennedy-Johnson era (1960, 1962, 1964) has a party suffered as many consecutive, no-upside losses as the modern Democrats. But on election night 2006, they're increasingly likely to see concession speeches from 2000 arch-foe Katherine Harris and 2004 arch-foe Ken Blackwell alongside the humiliation of their enemy from-time-immemorial, Thomas Dale DeLay. All three events can unfold without power actually transferring from the GOP, but a meltdown trifecta like this will go far in healing the wounds that ripped Americans apart and inspired terrible David Brooks articles back in 2000.