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Judge Keeps DeLay's Name on Texas Ballot

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's name will appear on the November election ballot, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks agreed with the Democratic Party lawyers, who argued last week that it couldn't be shown conclusively whether DeLay would be an "inhabitant" of Texas on Election Day on Nov. 7.

DeLay testified at the hearing last week that since he decided against another bid for Congress, from which he resigned on June 9, and he lives and votes in Virginia, he should not be on the 22nd Congressional District ballot despite the fact that he had already won the primary.

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Republicans argued that DeLay did not "withdraw" from the election, which would mean that he couldn't be replaced, but had been made "ineligible" because of his move to Alexandria, Va.

Lawyers for the state Democratic Party pointed out that DeLay and his wife still have a home in Sugar Land, near Houston. Christine DeLay is actively involved in helping foster children in the state.

Republicans wanted to put another Republican name in DeLay's place, but Democrats are hoping that keeping his name up there will give former Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson the edge against any write-in candidate.

"Now he's on the ballot, now he's off the ballot," said Lampson spokesman Mike Malaise. "We're just campaigning as if we have an opponent."

Sparks indicated at trial that he expected an appeal. The Texas Republican Party will likely request a stay of the decision from Sparks, who probably won't grant it. The GOP would then appeal the decision not to grant the stay to the Federal Appeals Court.

DeLay is facing state charges of campaign finance violations. He is awaiting trial on allegations of illegally funneling corporate campaign contributions from the national Republican Party to state legislative candidates, who are forbidden to accept corporate donations.

Keeping DeLay's name on the ballot keeps the Democratic mantra of a "culture of corruption" in the forefront, at least in the suburban district that DeLay represented. Republicans counter that not allowing an opponent on the ballot amounts to Democrats "stealing" the congressional seat.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.