|Birth Date||8 April 1947|
|Known For||Former U.S. House majority leader|
|Highest Score||18 (Tango)|
|Lowest Score||15 (Samba)|
DeLay was born in Laredo, Texas, one of three sons of Maxine Evelyn (née Wimbish) and Charles Ray DeLay. He spent most of his childhood in Venezuela due to his father's work in the petroleum and natural gas industry. He attended Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he both played football and was the lead dancer in school productions. He attended Baylor University for two years, majoring in pre-med, but was expelled for drinking and painting Baylor school colors on a building at rival Texas A&M University. The Washington Post reported that DeLay obtained student deferments from military service while in college and that he received a high draft lottery number in 1969 which ensured that he would not be drafted for the Vietnam War. DeLay graduated from the University of Houston in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in biology.
After graduating from college, DeLay spent three years at pesticide-maker Redwood Chemical and then purchased Albo Pest Control, which DeLay grew into a large and successful business. This work was the source for his nickname, "the Exterminator". In the eleven years DeLay ran the company, the Internal Revenue Service imposed three tax liens on him for failure to pay payroll and income taxes. The United States Environmental Protection Agency's ban on Mirex, a pesticide that was used in extermination work, led DeLay to oppose government regulation of businesses, a belief that he has carried with him throughout his political career.
In 1978, DeLay won the election for an open seat in the Texas House of Representatives. He was the first Republican to represent Fort Bend County in the state House. DeLay ran for Congress in 1984 from the 22nd District, after fellow Republican Ron Paul decided to run in the Republican primary for the 1984 U.S. Senate race instead of for reelection (Paul subsequently returned to Congress from a neighboring district). He easily won a crowded six-way primary with 53 percent of the vote, and cruised to election in November. DeLay was one of six freshmen Republican congressmen elected from Texas in 1984 known as the Texas Six Pack. He was reelected ten times, never facing substantive opposition in what had become a solidly Republican district.
Early Congressional Career
As a member of the Republican minority in the 1980s, DeLay made a name for himself by criticizing the National Endowment for the Arts and the Environmental Protection Agency. During his first term in Congress, DeLay was appointed to the Republican Committee on Committees, which assigned representatives to House committees, and in his second term, he was appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, a position that he retained until his election as Majority Leader in 2003. He was reappointed to the committee in 2006 after leaving his position as Majority Leader. He also served for a time as chairman of a group of conservative House Republicans known as the Republican Study Committee, and as Secretary of the House Republican Conference. DeLay was appointed as a deputy Republican whip in 1988.
When the Republican Party gained control of the House in 1995 following the 1994 election, or "Republican Revolution", DeLay was elected Majority Whip against the wishes of House Speaker-elect Newt Gingrich.
eLay was not always on good terms with Gingrich or Dick Armey, the House Majority Leader from 1995 to 2003, and he reportedly considered them uncommitted to Christian values. Nevertheless, in the heyday of the 104th Congress (1995–1997), DeLay described the Republican leadership as a triumvirate of Gingrich, "the visionary"; Armey, "the policy wonk"; and himself, "the ditch digger who makes it all happen".
In the summer of 1997 several House Republicans, who saw Speaker Newt Gingrich's public image as a liability, attempted to replace him as Speaker. The attempted "coup" began July 9 with a meeting between Republican conference chairman John Boehner of Ohio and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New York. According to their plan, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Majority Whip DeLay, Boehner and Paxon were to present Gingrich with an ultimatum: resign, or be voted out. However, Armey balked at the proposal to make Paxon the new Speaker, and told his chief of staff to warn Gingrich about the coup.
On 11 July, Gingrich met with senior Republican leadership to assess the situation. He explained that under no circumstance would he step down. If he was voted out, there would be a new election for Speaker, which would allow for the possibility that Democrats—along with dissenting Republicans—would vote in Dick Gephardt as Speaker. On 16 July, Paxon offered to resign his post, feeling that he had not handled the situation correctly, as the only member of the leadership who had been appointed to his position—by Gingrich—instead of elected.
As Majority Whip, DeLay earned the nickname "The Hammer" for his enforcement of party discipline in close votes and his reputation for wreaking political vengeance on opponents. DeLay has expressed a liking for his nickname, pointing out that the hammer is one of a carpenter's most valuable tools. In the 104th Congress, DeLay successfully whipped 300 out of 303 bills.
In 1998, DeLay worked to ensure that the House vote on impeaching President Bill Clinton was successful. DeLay rejected efforts to censure Clinton, who, DeLay said, had lied under oath. DeLay posited that the U.S. Constitution allowed the House to punish the president only through impeachment. He called on Clinton to resign and personally compelled enough House members to vote to approve two articles of impeachment. Republicans paid the price at the polls during the 1998 congressional "midterm" election, as the GOP sustained a net loss of five seats to Democrats in the House of Representatives.
Newt Gingrich, whose approval as Speaker, both in the Congress and in the public eye, had already greatly suffered due to his polarizing political style and a formal House reprimand and $300,000 fine for political ethics violations, was widely blamed for the political failure of impeachment and the House losses by Republicans in the 1998 midterms and during the 1996 general election as well. Facing the second major attempt in as many years by House Republicans, including DeLay, to oust him as Speaker, Gingrich announced he would resign from Congress. Following Gingrich's announcement, Appropriations Committee chairman Bob Livingston of Louisiana became the presumptive Speaker-elect until December 1998, when, during House debate over its still-ongoing impeachment proceedings, he admitted to extramarital affairs himself and withdrew his name from consideration as Speaker. Armey was out of the running after fending off a bruising challenge to his majority leader's post from Steve Largent of Oklahoma, and DeLay, as the third-ranking House Republican, appeared to have the inside track to the Speakership. However DeLay decided that he would be "too nuclear" to lead the closely divided House that had resulted from the Republican House losses in 1996 and 1998. So instead DeLay proposed his chief vote-counter, Chief Deputy Whip Dennis Hastert, as a compromise candidate, since Hastert had very good relations on both sides of the aisle. As Congress reconvened in January 1999, Hastert was elected House Speaker, and DeLay was reelected House Majority Whip.
After serving as his party's Whip for eight years, DeLay was elected Majority Leader upon the retirement of Dick Armey in 2003. His tenure as Majority Leader was marked by strong Republican party discipline and by parliamentary and redistricting efforts to preserve Republican control of the House. After his indictment on 28 September 2005, DeLay stepped down from his position as Majority Leader. He was the first congressional leader ever to be indicted. Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri took over as acting leader.
On 7 January 2006, after weeks of growing pressure from Republican colleagues, and particularly from Reps. Charlie Bass and Jeff Flake, who wanted to avoid being associated with DeLay's legal issues in an election year, DeLay announced he would not seek to regain his position as Majority Leader.
Legislative and Electoral Methods
DeLay was known to "primary" Republicans who resisted his votes (i.e., to threaten to endorse and to support a Republican primary challenge to the disobedient representative), and, like many of his predecessors in Congress, used promises of future committee chairmanships to bargain for support among the rank-and-file members of the party. Employing a method known as "catch and release", DeLay allowed centrist or moderately conservative Republicans to take turns voting against controversial bills. If a representative said that a bill was unpopular in his district, then DeLay would ask him to vote for it only if his vote were necessary for passage; if his vote were not needed, then the representative would be able to vote against the party without reprisal, a practice which has been followed by other party leaders and whips from both sides of the aisle, Democrat and Republican, respectively, when in power.
In the 108th Congress, a preliminary Medicare vote passed 216–215, a vote on Head Start passed 217–216, a vote on school vouchers for Washington, D.C., passed 209-208, and "Fast track", usually called "trade promotion authority", passed by one vote as well. Both political supporters and opponents remarked on DeLay's ability to sway the votes of his party, a method DeLay described as "growing the vote". DeLay was noted for involving lobbyists in the process of passing House bills. One lobbyist said, "I've had members pull me aside and ask me to talk to another member of Congress about a bill or amendment, but I've never been asked to work on a bill—at least like they are asking us to whip bills now." His ability to raise money gave him additional influence. During the 2004 election cycle, DeLay's political action committee ARMPAC was one of the top contributors to Republican congressional candidates, contributing over $980,000 in total.
Partly as a result of DeLay's management abilities, the House Republican caucus under him displayed unprecedented, sustained party cohesion.
On 30 September 2004, the House Ethics Committee unanimously admonished DeLay because he "offered to endorse Representative [Nick] Smith's son in exchange for Representative Smith's vote in favor of the Medicare bill."
Life After Congress
Since leaving Congress, along with tending to his legal troubles, DeLay has co-authored (with Stephen Mansfield) a political memoir, No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight, given media interviews (primarily regarding politics), begun a personal blog, opened an official Facebook page (written in the third-person), become active on Twitter (written in the first-person), and appeared in the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars, the highly-watched ABC television reality show.
According to his personal website, since leaving office DeLay has also founded a strategic political consulting firm, First Principles LLC. And, "in addition to his political and business work", the "Meet Tom" section of his site says, "DeLay travels around the country delivering speeches to conservative organizations, Republican events, and college campuses." This "Meet Tom" section adds that "DeLay also spends a great deal of his time... traveling around the country and meeting with major donors, fundraisers, and political operatives, encouraging them to pay more attention to what the Left is accomplishing and how, and asking for their involvement with more outside organizations." DeLay ascribes divine motivation to his political efforts since leaving Congress, telling an interviewer: "I listen to God, and what I've heard is that I'm supposed to devote myself to rebuilding the conservative base of the Republican Party, and I think we shouldn’t be underestimated."
DeLay's website concludes by saying that the former congressman and his wife "continue to be outspoken advocates for foster care reform and are actively involved in a unique foster care community in Richmond, Texas, that provides safe, permanent homes for abused and neglected kids." Rio Bend, a "Christ-centered" community which the DeLays founded, opened in 2005.
DeLay married Christine Furrh, whom he had known since high school, in 1967. In 1972, the DeLays had a daughter, Danielle, who is now a public school math teacher.
During his time in the Texas Legislature, DeLay struggled with alcoholism and gained a reputation as a playboy, earning the nickname "Hot Tub Tom". By the time of his election to Congress in 1984 he was drinking "eight, ten, twelve martinis a night at receptions and fundraisers." In 1985, DeLay became a born-again Christian, and gave up hard liquor. Of the Rev. Ken Wilde, an evangelical minister from Idaho who founded the National Prayer Center in Washington, D.C., which houses volunteers who come to the capital to pray for the nation's leaders, DeLay said, "This is the man who really saved me. When I was going through my troubles, it was Ken who really stepped up." Of his conversion, DeLay said, "I had put my needs first ... I was on the throne, not God. I had pushed God from His throne."
In criticizing Newt Gingrich for secretly having an affair with a staffer while Gingrich, as House Speaker, was simultaneously impeaching President Bill Clinton for lying under oath about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, DeLay said, "I don't think that Newt could set a high moral standard, a high moral tone, during that moment.... You can’t do that if you're keeping secrets about your own adulterous affairs." Differentiating between Gingrich's adultery and his own admitted adultery, DeLay said, "I was no longer committing adultery by that time, the impeachment trial. There's a big difference. ... I had returned to Christ and repented my sins by that time."
DeLay declined to comment on a 1999 report in The New Yorker that he was estranged from much of his family, including his mother and one of his brothers. As of 2001, DeLay had not spoken to his younger brother, Randy, a Houston lobbyist, since 1996, when a complaint to the House Ethics Committee prompted DeLay to state that he had cut his brother off in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
In 1994, Christine DeLay began volunteering as a court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children in foster care, and soon thereafter, the DeLays became foster parents to three teenage boys. In 2005, Christine and Tom DeLay founded Rio Bend, a "Christ-centered" foster care community in Richmond, Texas, that cares for abused and neglected children "as an answer to problems they felt plagued the current foster care system", according to the Rio Bend website, which continues, "The DeLays developed Rio Bend’s vision based on Christine's time spent as a special advocate, as well as their experiences together as therapeutic foster parents."
Dancing with the Stars 9
He was partnered with Cheryl Burke. They placed 13th. He was reported with having a possible stress fracture in his foot on 15 September 2009, just one week before the competition. The injury did not keep him out of the competition. However, in the 5 October episode, Tom Bergeron stated that the slight fracture had become a full fracture, and DeLay later reported that he had stress fractures in both feet, and that he was not going to continue the competition because of his doctor's advice. In the 6 October results episode, DeLay formally announced that he would not continue as a contestant. He then accepted Bergeron's invitation to dance the Texas/country two-step in the season finale, health permitting.
|Week #||Dance/Song||Judges' Scores||Result|
|1||Viennese Waltz Relay/"I Am Your Man"||--||4||--||Safe|
|2||Tango/"Por una Cabeza"||6||6*||6||Safe|
|3||Samba/"Why Can't We Be Friends?"||6||4||5||Withdrew|
- Score was awarded by stand in judge Baz Luhrmann.