Washington -- Former Republican Rep. Rick Lazio of New York has been granted
most of his private demands as a precondition for trying to win back the
congressional seat in Long Island, N.Y., that he gave up in 2000 to run
against Hillary Clinton for the Senate. Nevertheless, he has given no signal
of whether or not he will run.
Meeting with Republican leaders, Lazio was promised he could
reclaim membership on the House Appropriations Committee and would be given
some help in erasing his $1 million-plus debt remaining from the Senate
campaign. He was turned down in requesting the health care subcommittee
chairmanship on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, who succeeded Lazio in the House,
would be a cinch for re-election if Lazio does not run. If Lazio does run,
Israel would be the House's most endangered freshman Democrat.
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani,
presenting himself as a conservative Republican, wowed the party's
high-dollar contributors Wednesday night at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
As featured speaker at the National Republican Congressional
Committee's fund-raising dinner, Giuliani mixed partisanship with patriotic
fervor. He left party insiders talking about him as George W. Bush's running
mate in 2004 if Dick Cheney does not run for vice president.
GOP operatives want to make heavy use of Giuliani on the 2002
campaign circuit. They are buzzing about his success in campaigning for
Michael Bloomberg to succeed him as mayor and for Bill Simon, the upset
Republican nominee for governor of California. But Giuliani is just
beginning a heavy lecture schedule at $100,000 a crack.
Hastert vs. O'Neill
The decibel level rose and the intensity was unusual this week
in House Speaker Dennis Hastert's office when Treasury Secretary Paul
O'Neill pleaded for action on extending the debt limit.
Others present at the heated session denied reports that Hastert
kicked O'Neill out of his office. However, when the secretary grew strident
in predicting desperate trouble for the country in the absence of
congressional action, the speaker raised his voice to make clear that he had
heard all of O'Neill's arguments before.
A footnote: Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle's claim that
the bipartisan congressional leadership had agreed on passing a debt limit
bill without amendments did not take into consideration a powerful
exception: House Republican Whip Tom DeLay is insistent on adding popular
amendments to a bill that GOP conservatives do not like.
New GOP Star
The masterful job performed by Sacramento-based political
consultant Sal Russo in managing Bill Simon's uphill campaign for governor
of California is likely to rescue him from a decade in the GOP doghouse.
Russo, a veteran of 36 years in Republican politics, offended
party insiders when he joined fellow Californian Ed Rollins to attempt,
however briefly, running Ross Perot's 1992 independent campaign for
Until recently, party insiders scoffed at political neophyte
Simon running for governor and whispered that Russo was seeking a fat payday
from his multi-millionaire client. But Russo ran a deft operation that
skillfully navigated treacherous social issues such as abortion and gun
regulation, with Simon alienating neither conservatives nor moderates.