Robert Novak

 Kerry returned to the Senate from the campaign trail June 22 for the purpose of voting on the veterans proposal. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist delayed the vote until June 23, when Kerry was absent.


 Rep. Phil Crane of Illinois, senior Republican in the House of Representatives who could be a victim of the Republican meltdown in his state, has been added to the National Republican Congressional Committee's (NRCC) most endangered list.

 Crane, elected to Congress in 1969, represents a once safely Republican district in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago -- an area moving toward the Democrats. The second-ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee was once considered a national leader of the conservative movement and sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1980.

 A footnote: Conservative Rep. Rick Renzi, who won a first term from Arizona in 2002 with 49.2 percent of the vote, has been removed from the seriously endangered list by the NRCC. Still heading the list is freshman Rep. Max Burns, who in 2002 won a Georgia district that had been gerrymandered for the Democrats. Burns won when the Democratic nominee's arrest record came to light.


 Washington's top lobbyists turned out in exceptional numbers Monday for a $1,000-a-ticket fund raiser on behalf of a congressman with no opponent this year: Rep. Bill Thomas of California, the powerful, domineering chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

 The demand for tickets was so great that Thomas reserved the entire second floor of the Republicans-only Capitol Hill Club. Thomas will distribute the money raised to other GOP candidates, further enhancing his influence in the House.

 As Thomas began his remarks Monday to more than 50 contributors, he pointed ominously to a table behind him containing a handle of badges for people who had reserved a ticket but did not show up.

Robert Novak

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

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