Robert Novak
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WASHINGTON -- Bill Clinton, campaigning in behalf of six Democratic governor candidates during the last few days before Nov. 5, batted only .167. Five of them lost Tuesday. The former president barnstormed for losing candidates Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in Maryland Nov. 1, Bill McBride in Florida Nov. 1 and Nov. 3, Jimmie Lou Fisher in Arkansas Nov. 3, Shannon O'Brien in Massachusetts Nov. 4, and Bill Curry in Connecticut Nov. 4. The only winner for governor campaigned for by Clinton during the three-day blitz was Jennifer Granholm in Michigan Nov. 1. This record recalled Clinton's performance during the 1994 campaign prior to his first mid-term election as president. In a prelude to that year's Republican landslide, polls showed Democratic candidates slumping after a visit from Clinton. NO-WORK LAME DUCK President Bush's insistence that the lame-duck session of Congress convening Tuesday pass his long-delayed homeland security bill is encountering pleas from Senate Republican leaders to wait until the new Congress convenes next year. Even with 50 senators in the Republican caucus next week, it would take 60 votes to reorganize the Senate. With the Senate still under Democratic control, the GOP leadership sees Sen. Robert C. Byrd blocking any action on the homeland security bill. Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott has advised the White House to postpone action on the measure until January, when 51 Republicans will take back control of the Senate. Republicans will not even have 50 votes in the lame-duck session. Republican Jim Talent, elected from Missouri to fill an unexpired term immediately, may not be certified as the winner until next week's session adjourns. Independent Dean Barkley, appointed from Minnesota to fill a short term, is not likely to join either the Republican or Democratic caucus. TEXAS GOP COUP? While Rep. Martin Frost of Texas is campaigning for the House Democratic leadership as a more moderate alternative to Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, he may face 2004 re-election trouble in a redistricted Dallas-Fort Worth area congressional seat. When the Texas state legislature did not agree on a redrawn congressional map after the 2000 census, a federal judicial panel redistricted (resulting in a two-seat Republican gain). With Republicans taking control of the legislature in Tuesday's election, they are contemplating new districting that would threaten up to six of the state's Democratic House members. Frost and the veteran Rep. Charles W. Stenholm are the prime targets, but the GOP also would like to get rid of Reps. Chris Bell, Max Sandlin, Chet Edwards and Jim Turner. Democrats control the Texas delegation, 17 to 15, in the next Congress. BANKERS BLUES The banking industry's jubilation over Republican recapture of the Senate was tempered by the succession of Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Shelby, a former Democrat who turned Republican after the 1994 election, is regarded by bankers as an undependable maverick. He has advocated consumer privacy, fighting distribution of bank customers' names to credit-card companies and other business concerns. Banking industry leaders would prefer Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah, second-ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, with Shelby given a different chairmanship. However, Shelby lacks the seniority to be chairman of any other committee. He is being rotated off the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he has been top Republican since 1997. CARNAHAN'S BLOOPER Appointed Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan's hairline loss to Republican former Rep. Jim Talent for a full term from Missouri can be traced back to her campaign blooper equating herself with Osama bin Laden. "I'm the No. 1 target of the White House," rookie candidate Carnahan told a campaign rally. "They can't get Osama bin Laden. They're going to get me." Seizing on her remarks, Talent's campaign suggested Carnahan believes the U.S. is losing the war against terrorism. "I certainly did not mean that," she responded, "and I offer my apologies." But that did not appear to undo the damage.
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Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.
 

 
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