(CNSNews.com) - A federal judge has made it easier for the Democratic Party to pick up the Texas U.S. House seat formerly occupied by Tom DeLay. U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks ruled Thursday that the Republican Party cannot replace DeLay - the former House majority leader who resigned in April - on the November ballot with another GOP candidate.
If DeLay's name remains on the ballot and he wins, Democrats will attempt to declare him "ineligible and unable to serve," Texas Republican Party Chairman Tina Benkiser said, since DeLay changed his residency to Virginia after resigning his congressional seat.
However, Sparks wrote in his ruling that to allow the GOP to replace DeLay on the ballot would amount to a "serious abuse of the election system and a fraud on the voters."
DeLay won the Republican primary for Texas' 22nd District seat in March before deciding that the criminal case against him involving alleged money laundering and campaign finance violations was too much of a distraction for him to continue his campaign.
DeLay and his supporters say they are confident that Sparks' decision will be overturned. Dani DeLay Ferro, the former congressman's daughter, said it was "unfortunate that the voters of the 22nd District of Texas are the ones who bear the brunt of Judge Spark's ill-advised decision."
But the Public Campaign Action Fund, a non-profit election reform group, labeled Sparks' decision a "victory for voters."
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