WASHINGTON -- Democratic joy over the special election victory of 33-year-old Stephanie Herseth for South Dakota's House seat was diminished by the danger this poses to re-election of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
Herseth's election gives predominantly Republican South Dakota an all-Democratic delegation in Congress (both senators and the only House member). Consequently, even Democrats in Washington speculate that the state's voters are unlikely to elect both Herseth and Daschle this year. Daschle could fall victim to a spirited Republican campaign by former Rep. John Thune.
While House Republican leaders believe Herseth is beatable Nov. 2 for the full term, they privately say they would sacrifice one House seat to get rid of Daschle.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi got very poor reviews from her fellow House Democrats for last Sunday's performance on NBC's "Meet the Press," where she seemed continuously ill at ease.
Pelosi appeared to wilt under Tim Russert's stern interrogation about her recent comments on Iraq. In response to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay attacking her criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy, she embarrassed Democrats by praising herself: "I made that statement that I did, and I think with great courage, if I might say about myself, because I am worried about the troops on the ground in Iraq or wherever our troops serve."
House Democrats generally feel Pelosi compares unfavorably with her rival within the party caucus, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. Nevertheless, Democrats waging an uphill battle to regain control of the House stress that their return to power would mean the first female speaker of the House.
PROSECUTING THE GOP
U.S. Attorney David Kelley of New York City, who has concentrated on prosecuting rich white-collar criminals, has been assigned to investigate the young Republican aide accused of reading confidential Democratic communications.
Manuel Miranda, who formerly advised Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on judicial confirmations, was fired after he uncovered Democratic plans to scuttle President Bush's nominations. Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Frist refused to support Miranda.
Miranda, a young father and husband, is currently unemployed. While many conservatives consider him a hero for uncovering the plans revolving around Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Miranda now could face criminal prosecution.