A fellow Texan, Congressman Henry Cuellar rated him a 7.
Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen took issue with his technique.
"Doing the cha-cha, it was like a bad car accident," Ros-Lehtinen said. "You want to look away but you can't."
The former House majority leader was hardly a soft shoe in the halls of Congress, where his nickname was "The Hammer."
His dancing debut marks a new stage for DeLay, who exited the national spotlight in disgrace after being indicted for violating Texas campaign laws.
"The man is back! I don't know what he's running for," said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y.
One judge called DeLay's performance "half magic, half tragic."
"You're crazier than Sarah Palin!" said Bruno Tonioli, a "Dancing with the Stars" judge.
Republican leaders didn't know quite what to call it, but Democrat Dennis Kucinich gained a new respect for his old foe.
"He's kind of the 21st century John Travolta and Fred Astaire wrapped into one," Kucinich said.
And how does DeLay think he did? Well, after the show, with his trademark bravado, The Hammer declared, "I nailed it."