The House ethics committee admonished DeLay for his role in using the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain information on the whereabouts of absent Texas legislators. The rebuke one month before the 2004 election didn't stop Republicans from gaining five House seats in Texas, offsetting a two-seat loss outside of the state and helping the party hold its chamber majority.
The Supreme Court invalidated part of the Texas map in 2006 and a federal court redrew it before that year's midterm elections. Democrats then won two Texas seats from Republicans — including the one DeLay had resigned from in mid-2006 — and 30 nationwide to take control of the House.
While redistricting usually is a once-per-decade exercise, the Texas fight shows that brawls can surface at unexpected times.
In January, Republicans in the evenly divided Virginia Senate shoved through a new map on a party-line vote when a Democrat was absent to attend Obama's inauguration. The map was blocked by the Republican House speaker on a procedural point.
"Virginia pointed out once again that the players who are involved in the process will try to game the system however they can, be they Republicans or Democrats," said Kim Brace, the president of Election Data Services Inc., a political consulting firm in Manassas, Va.