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Tom Delay ( 1947 - )  Category ( Politicians ) [suggest a correction]

Tom DelayIn Texas, politics is as rough a sport as football, and Tom Delay always played hard.

The partisan ferocity he later exhibited as a key House Republican may have been foreshadowed as a college student, when he was expelled from Baylor University for painting the Baylor colors (green and gold) on a building at arch-rival Texas A&M.

A product of Sugar Land, TX (a Houston exurb), Delay was the first Republican ever to represent Fort Bend County in the Texas State Legislature. He was elected to Congress in 1984 when Ron Paul vacated that seat to run for the U.S. Senate, and his skill at hardball tactics soon earned him the respect and attention of party leaders.

Just two terms into his House career, Delay was named deputy minority whip under another tough political competitor, Dick Chaney. He advanced to House Majority Whip in 1995 in the wake of the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Revolution, and ascended to Majority Leader in 2002.

By then, Delay had already accumulated considerable political baggage. As an executive for Redwood Chemical in Texas, he attracted the unwelcome attention of both the IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency. As a state legislator and in his early House career, Delay became known as a party animal, to the point where his colleagues dubbed him "Hot Tub Tom."

His marriage with his childhood sweetheart survived, however, and Delay eventually stopped drinking.

He was born in Laredo, a Texas border town, and grew up primarily in Venezuala while his father worked for an oil company there. After his untimely exit from Baylor, he earned a degree in biology from the University of Houston.

Delay's carried his connection to the chemical and petroleum industries into Congress, where he became a highly vocal foe of global warming proponents.

No dull technocrat, however, he also developed the unrelated skill of persuading (by various means) fellow Republicans to do his bidding. In return, he offered his expertise -- honed in Texas -- in redistricting voting areas to maximize Republican interests.

Delay's political career began to spring a serious leak in 2005, when a Texas prosecutor went after him for violating campaign finance rules. That case has yet to come to court, but it didn't help that two of Delay's aides were convicted of wrongdoing in the Jack Abramoff scandal around the same time. Under pressure from the same colleagues whose arms he had once twisted, Delay resigned as majority leader in 2006.

The same year, he won the Republican primary for his Sugar Land House seat, then tried to withdraw when the polls made it obvious that he wouldn't win the general election. Before it was over, Delay became one of the few elected officials in history to go to court to get himself off a ballot.

After a period of dormancy, interspersed with occasional comments about the current state of American affairs, Delay became an unlikely contestant on "Dancing with the Stars," paired with Cheryl Burke.

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