As early as tomorrow, Texas Judge Pat Priest will reportedly determine whether DeLay will stand trial on criminal conspiracy and money laundering charges.
As AP writes up, this decision will likely decide whether or not the once Majority Leader becomes the once and future Majority Leader.
At issue are several developments:
First, the House GOP has shown how fractured and leaderless it is without DeLay. Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt has not been able to control the agenda and win key legislation.
Second, with the clouds of this and other scandals hanging over the House Republicans, some members, like Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, are advocating a complete break from the past regime and an open leadership election.
Third, the longer DeLay's trial remains undecided, the more worried national Republicans get about the scandals political impact. Couple that with ambitious members with a once-a-decade opportunity to claim a leadership position, and you've got a recipe for unrest. If Judge Priest rejects DeLay's motion to dismiss the case, there will be future court dates, all which help drive a message about DeLay's corruption. That's not what the Republicans want as 2005 turns to 2006.
"If we have a quick time line, there is a certain segment of Congress willing to be patient," Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee told AP.
That segment, by all accounts, is dwindling.
So here's my prediction: If Priest dismisses the case or moves it to Ft. Bend County, look for an agressive push for DeLay's political ressurection this week in DC. If Priest rejects the motions, DeLay's political obituary (at least in DC circles) will be written this week. Ambitious pols won't wait for a verdict in this case before they seek positions of power.