Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Prominent California Democrats are pressing to get Gov. Gray Davis to resign rather than face a recall that may replace him with a Republican governor in a special October election.

Oakland Mayor (and former California governor) Jerry Brown, in Washington this past week, speculated that Davis could instantly destroy the recall movement by resigning. That would elevate Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to the governorship. Sen. Barbara Boxer has sketched the same scenario in private conversations with fellow Democrats.

These Democrats express skepticism that Gray would voluntarily surrender the prize that he sought his entire political life. Nevertheless, he could derail the recall at any time prior to the actual balloting by just quitting.


The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature, ready to make it impossible for Sen. Bob Graham to enter Democratic presidential primaries while keeping his options open for Senate re-election, may consider further limitations on him.

Before it adjourns next week, the Legislature is expected to move the May 7 deadline for the Senate primary to early March -- prior to the California and Florida presidential primaries. If the Democratic nominee is not determined by then, Graham would have to make an early decision on whether to abandon his presidential ambitions or leave the Senate.

However, it appears Graham could run simultaneously for vice president and senator (as Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut did in 2000). The Legislature may consider prohibiting that possibility.


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's selections of Republican conferees on the child tax credit bill may kill cash payments to low-income people who don't pay federal income taxes. Although such legislation has passed both chambers of Congress, it could die in a Senate-House conference.

Frist routinely named Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, who strongly supported the cash payments, to head the three Senate GOP conferees. But he selected as the other two conferees Sens. Don Nickles and Trent Lott, third- and fourth-ranking Republicans on Finance (skipping over second-ranking Sen. Orrin Hatch). Nickles was one of only two senators to vote against the child tax credit bill, and Lott clutched his throat with a choking signal as he voted "aye."

Nickles and Lott could work with the two House Republicans conferees, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas and Majority Leader Tom DeLay, to bury the issue.


Robert Novak

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

©Creators Syndicate