Here's one reason...
DeLay scored 2/3rds of the [primary] vote without lifting a single finger in the district... His field people zeroed in on the evangelical (and other core constituencies) vote like a razor. For example, every house with a car sporting one of those Jesus fish magnets was targetted. Those voters were bombarded with DeLay's direct mail and urged to turn out and vote. (Source)
[In full disclosure, my wife has one on her car, but it was placed there before we met. :) ]
Bruce and others can probably set me straight, but from what I understand of politics, so much rides on the "framing" of an issue. In order to come out looking good no matter the circumstances, one must spin an issue into a pre-conceived frame so as to shut out any contradictory opinions and buttress against attacks.
Some of you may remember the "prayer alerts" issued on behalf of Mr. Delay as indictment rumors swirled. Despite obvious signs of corruption, arrogance, and blatant disrespect of our nation's core values, the former Majority Leader has survived so far by framing his situation as a "Christian Statesman" under attack.
Folks of the Texas 22nd Congressional District - you were used. You were identified because of your beliefs, and more than likely you were fed a combination of sympathy for Delay plus fear of what happens if he isn't elected. How will he repay you? Oh, he may fight for the issues you hold dear, but unfortunately one of the side effects of his career in DC is blatant and unapologetic corruption. Yeah, he's a real stand-up guy.
How many Republicans were decrying the lack of character in Washington circa 1999? You may call me a liberal (un-true), but I have a problem with a Christian Statesman acting in very un-ethical and un-American ways. The issue isn't what he believes or what he fights for - it's how he fights.
For too many Christians (see "Southern Baptist Convention, take-over of;") the ends justify the means. Growing up, I was taught that leading a Christian life is a journey in which the means very much affect the end.
Until the opposition party can emboldenly frame their religious beliefs as being consistent with their politics (a huge thank you to Governor Tim Kaine for blazing the trail for other future candidates, not only in Virginia but also nation-wide), the GOP will continue to use its religious base by generating sympathy and fear to gain power - I for one am sick of these character-less tactics. There has to be a better way.