Deep within the “Dancing With the Stars” archives is a tale involving injuries, hustling for swing votes, a controversial political figure and leopard print. Following the news that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will appear on this upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars,” the internet got all sorts of riled up. But he’s not the first in his field to compete for that coveted mirror ball trophy, nor even the first from the Lone Star State.
No, siree, that distinction belongs to the former Republican U.S. House Majority Leader from Sugar Land: Tom DeLay. You may or may not remember his appearance on the ninth season of the televised dance competition, but what better time to recap DeLay’s bizarre moment of televised stardom?
Back in the day, DeLay was joined on the dance floor by former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and throwback pop star Donny Osmond. In a 2009 American-Statesman article, DeLay’s spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty said the then-62-year-old former congressman was intrigued by the opportunity to dance on national TV because “he’s always looking for a new adventure.”
The American-Statesman’s John Kelso, in a column written when the news broke, poked fun at DeLay, who had been indicted on money-laundering charges and violation of state election laws just four years earlier. Here’s an excerpt of what Kelso had to say:
“Can you think of anyone more awkward for ‘Dancing With the Stars’? OK, so Hillary Clinton. Ain’t nobody gonna call her Diddy any time soon… This is not the first time ‘Dancing With the Stars’ looks like it should change its name to ‘Dancing Behind Bars.’ Rapper Lil’ Kim , who made it onto the show, did 10 months in prison.”
Though DeLay was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to three years in prison, the ruling was overturned in 2013 — meaning this scandal was looming over him throughout his entire appearance on “DWTS.”
But DeLay’s quest for the trophy was short-lived. The man who had come out with a bang for his debut on the show in a brown, sparkly, leopard-print lined vest and orthopedic shoes lasted but three weeks. Stress fractures on his feet forced him to quit before his chance at elimination. (Or victory.)
That’s not all. In 2006, DeLay had actually stumped for votes for “DWTS” contestant and country singer Sara Evans. According to an American-Statesman article, DeLay had been emailing his supporters, urging them to vote weekly for Evans. From DeLay’s email:
“One of her opponents on the show is ultra liberal talk show host Jerry Springer. We need to send a message to Hollywood and the media that smut has no place on television by supporting good people like Sara Evans.”
What a wild ride. Anyway, now it’s time to see if Perry has more luck on the dance floor than this Texas contestant did.