Just a few moments ago I asked whether the House GOP caucus had any rule in place that would force Tom DeLay (R-TX) to step down post-conviction.
And that raises the following possible scenario.
After getting convicted, DeLay could manage to stay free on bail for some time pending appeal -- probably multiple appeals. And while his appeals are dragging out month after month, or even year after year, what's to stop him from getting his enforcers in Texas to get the elected DA, Ronnie Earle, redistricted out of office?
That way DeLay gets convicted. He gets the conviction overturned on appeal (if possible). And while that's happening, he gets Earle thrown out of office. The new DA who takes over is a DeLay crony. And the new guy decides not to refile the case.
Now, I know you're thinking that this is too much even for the DeLay machine. But consider this: There was so much funny-business that went on in DeLay's redistricting power-grab last year that Earle opened an investigation soon after the events took place. On May 23rd, 2003, for instance, he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he had already opened an inquiry into another aspect of the case (specifically, a matter of some mysteriously 'destroyed' records.)
So the DeLay machine already knew trouble could be coming from Earle by late spring of last year. And, low and behold, a few months later, as Earle's investigations started to pick up steam, the guy who executed DeLay's redistricting power-grab, House Speaker Tom Craddick, began working on new legislation to redistrict the state's 300-odd elected DAs and elected prosecutors. As this article from last November in the Austin Chronicle makes clear, the widely-assumed real target of the move was none other than Ronnie Earle.
A far-fetched scenario? Maybe. But would you put it past the Bug Man?
Late Update: A few TPM readers note the point that redistricting Earle out of a job would be an awfully difficult proposition. Far easier would be to strip the Travis Co. District Attorney (Earle) of the state's Public Integrity Unit, which would accomplish DeLay's end just as well. (Again, see the article linked above.)