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GOP drops challenge to DeLay on ballot

WASHINGTON -- Texas Republicans abandoned their court fight to replace former House majority leader Tom DeLay on the November ballot yesterday after being turned back at the Supreme Court.

The decision came after Justice Antonin Scalia rejected Texas Republicans' request to block an appeals court ruling saying DeLay's name should remain on the ballot.

``I think all our legal avenues are exhausted in terms of affecting the ruling prior to the election," said Jim Bopp Jr., the attorney who argued the Republican Party's case to allow party officials to substitute another candidate for DeLay. Under indictment on money laundering charges in Texas, DeLay won a March primary election that made him the GOP nominee for Congress from his home district near Houston. In June, he resigned from Congress and said he would not seek reelection.

Democrats had sued to keep DeLay on the ballot, with the former lawmaker's legal troubles becoming a symbol for claims of Republican corruption.

In a statement late yesterday , Bopp warned Democrats, ``Be careful what you ask for."

The lawyer said Democrats ``insisted he run for Congress, now it's up to voters to decide if Democrats are going to be happy" on Election Day. DeLay could still withdraw from the race, leaving the Republican Party with no candidate on the ballot to face Democrat Nick Lampson, a former House member from Beaumont.

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