Perry/DeLay Will Set Modern Record for Vacant Texas Seat

Republican’s scheme will leave TX-22 unrepresented more than four months
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Teddy Roosevelt was President, Butch Cassidy was alive and Lyndon Johnson had not yet been born the last time a Texas congressional district was forced to go 130 days without knowing who represented them in Congress.

Theodore Roosevelt, Butch Cassidy, and Lyndon Johnson as a baby

It has been more than 100 years since a Congressional District has been left without a Congressman for longer than 130 Days. However, under the scheme hatched by Texas Governor Rick Perry and surrendering former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay, citizens in the 22nd District of Texas will be left without any Member of Congress representing them for at least 130 days, from June 30, 2006 until November 7, 2006. This gap in representation could be even longer if DeLay resigns earlier in June or if a run-off results from a November 7th special election, leaving the seat open another 30 days.

DeLay/Perry Move Will Create Longest Vacancy Since 1905

Unlike DeLay, whose last chapter will identify him as the guy who decided to quit and run, the last Texas Member of Congress to cause such a long vacancy went out guns blazing – literally. On April 24, 1905, the Congressman for the 8th District of Texas, John M. Pinckney, was shot and killed at a meeting of the Waller County Prohibition league. According to the man who killed Pinckney, “I heard a shot behind me about 6- feet away and I turned and saw [Congressman] John M. Pinckney shoot at papa. I turned around and shot at him 3-times.” (Source: Rockdale Messenger, April, 27 1905). Pinkney had served in the Confederate Army and as a County Judge before entering Congress. He was succeeded by John M. Moore, a former State Representative from Fort Bend County after a vacancy of 224 days. (Source: Handbook of Texas Online)

Since then, whether congressional vacancies occurred due to resignation or tragic death, an election was held to fill the seat in less than 130 days and usually fairly soon after a district lost its Member of Congress. (Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress)

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