WASHINGTON, Apr 4: Rep. Tom DeLay, the former majority leader in the House of Representatives ensnared in a widening lobbying corruption scandal, will drop out of his re-election race, House Republican leadership aides confirmed.
He may also retire from Congress next month, they said.
DeLay informed House Republican leaders of his decision to drop out of the race in a series of telephone calls to them, aides said.
''The fear of the party losing the seat was a driving force in his decision,'' one aide said.
Aides said that the 58-year-old DeLay, who is being investigated for suspected ties to convicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, described himself as relieved by his decision to drop out of the race.
DeLay is expected to make his announcement today, aides said. He intends to leave Congress in May after the House finishes spending bills. DeLay is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
DeLay told Time magazine he notified President George W. Bush on Monday afternoon of his decision.
The Texan, known in political circles as ''The Hammer'' for his hard-hitting management style, told Time in a 90-minute interview that he and his wife Christine had been prepared to fight questions involving fund-raising, foreign travel and his relationships with lobbyists.
He decided last Wednesday after ''months of prayer and contemplation'' to spare his suburban Houston district the predicted battle.
DeLay stepped down from his leadership post in September after being indicted in Texas on campaign finance charges. Yet in early March he easily beat three Texas primary foes in his first election since the indictment.
He was to face Democrat Nick Lampson, a former House member who was beaten two years ago in an adjacent district that was remapped under a controversial state redistricting plan engineered by DeLay.
A Texas native, DeLay was first elected to the House in 1984, after serving six years in the Texas legislature.
He was part of ''The Republican Revolution'' in 1994 that saw his party win control of the House for the first time in 40 years. He then got the job of House majority whip, making him the chamber's third ranking Republican.
Born in the Mexican border town of Laredo, where his father worked in the oil and gas industry. A 1970 graduate of the University of Houston, he opened and operated a small business in Houston before running for the Texas State House in 1978.