Robert Novak
WASHINGTON -- Communications technicians at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the only unionized employees of the Democratic Party, have been laid off indefinitely. The workers at the DCCC's Harriman Center, which helps produce television programs for Democratic House members, belong to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). With the DCCC deeply in debt, the employees have been told the Harriman Center will be shut down for at least a year. Rep. Bob Filner of California has messaged House Democratic members to "join me in protesting this action" to the party leadership. House Democratic Leader-designate Nancy Pelosi has not yet named a new DCCC chairman. LOTT'S OLD FRIEND Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott was shaken by the harsh public criticism by his old friend and political ally Jack Kemp, who joined the Washington frenzy over Lott's remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday celebration. Kemp, who treasures his standing with African-Americans, matched the Congressional Black Caucus's rhetoric in reacting to Lott's jocular comments that the country would have been better off if Thurmond had been elected president in 1948 on a segregationist platform. Kemp did not talk personally to Lott, but a week later, after the firestorm had begun, he called his remarks "inexplicable, indefensible and inexcusable." That criticism made it less likely that Lott would immediately accept Kemp's advice to apologize in person before a black organization. However, Lott may do so after the first of the year. BUSH IN CALIFORNIA White House political operatives have told California Republican leaders that President Bush, despite GOP disasters there in 2000 and 2002, plans a vigorous 2004 re-election campaign in the nation's most populous state. Bush stayed away this past autumn from the uphill campaign by Bill Simon, the untested Republican candidate against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. Nevertheless, the White House is making clear that neither Simon's narrow defeat nor Bush's lopsided loss two years earlier convinced the president to give up on California. If Bush is serious about California, however, he may have to enforce Republican unity in the state. The president is being urged to intervene against Shawn Steel's election as state Republican chairman. Steel has been engaged in a bitter feud with Bush's principal agent in the state, investment banker Gerald Parsky. NEW CHIEF INVESTIGATOR Moderate Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia is expected to become the House's top investigator, beating out conservative Rep. Christopher Cox of California to become chairman of the House Government Reform Committee in the new Congress. Conservative Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana is leaving the chairmanship under Republican-imposed term limits. Cox, the fourth-ranking member of the House Republican leadership, has been on leave of absence from Government Reform since 1999 to serve on other committees. He has seniority over Davis, but lacks the votes. Liberal Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut is more senior than either Davis or Cox, but eliminated himself by deserting the party on campaign finance reform. A footnote: Davis promises to continue Burton's oversight on U.S. aid to help Colombia battle narco-guerrillas. However, Burton's staffers, with the institutional memory about the Colombian question, are not being retained by Davis. PRO-LIFE VS. GOP Mainline Republicans are bitter about the pro-life movement's support in the Dec. 7 Louisiana runoff election for Democratic State Sen. Rodney Alexander, who won by 974 votes against GOP congressional staffer Lee Fletcher in a district previously held by the Republicans. Both Alexander and Fletcher are against abortion, but pro-life activists opposed Fletcher because he would permit abortion exceptions in the case of rape or incest. Republican regulars complain that a House seat was lost because of a theoretical question that never comes up for a vote in Congress. Former Rep. Clyde Holloway, another all-out foe of abortion, refused to endorse Fletcher because of his abortion exception. Holloway's backers alone may have accounted for the Democratic margin of victory.

Robert Novak

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

 
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