- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

Former House Republican leader Tom DeLay is swapping his hammer for soft shoes. He will be among the 16 celebrities in this season’s “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC-TV announced Monday.

Mr. DeLay earned the name “the hammer” for extracting votes from party members and his head-to-head approach with opposing Democrats. However, the 62-year-old Texan will need a more delicate approach to win a competition made popular by attracting an eclectic group of celebrities and former celebrities.

Other contestants this season include Sports Illustrated model Kathy Ireland, former pop star Donny Osmond and retired NFL receiver Michael Irvin.

This ninth season marks the biggest field of contestants and starts Sept. 21.

The celebrities are paired with professional dancers and compete under the eye of three judges. Contestants are eliminated until the final pair is declared the winner.

Success on the show could prove more treacherous for Mr. DeLay than Congress. Former competitors have suffered torn ligaments, poked eyes and wardrobe malfunctions.

Mr. DeLay did not run for re-election in 2006, following a grand jury indictment related to campaign finance laws.

“‘Dancing With the Stars’ is a long way from Washington, D.C.’s, world of politics, so we’re anxious to see just how well this Texas native can do the two-step,” the show’s Web site says about Mr. DeLay. … These actors, comedians, musicians, entrepreneurs, reality stars and where-are-they-now personalities start out as lumbering Frankensteins with two left feet, and they slowly transform (we hope) into graceful twinkle-toed Baryshnikovs.”

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