By Bowing Out, DeLay Avoided 'Personally Devastating Loss' In November

DeLay's decision allowed him to set the terms of his departure, avoiding what could have been a personally devastating loss at the polls in November. DeLay was determined to hang on to his seat at least through the primary, said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. That was because he considered his three Republican challengers gadflies and traitors and he was determined to try to block them from succeeding him.

Several associates said DeLay was particularly influenced by poll results he received after his victory in the Republican primary on March 7, which made clear that his "negatives" in the district -- a routine tally of voters' emotional hostility toward him -- were high. That meant a close race would be won only with substantial effort and cash.

An additional impetus for putting off the resignation until now was suggested by John Feehery, a former aide to DeLay and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). "He needed to raise money for the defense fund. That was the bottom line," Feehery said. "He wanted to make sure he could take care of himself in the court of law." Under federal campaign rules, any reelection money a lawmaker raises can be used to pay legal fees stemming from official duties.

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