Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Only four of the 26 Democratic challengers for Congress and governorships endorsed and bankrolled by the left-wing MoveOn PAC were elected Tuesday, but some suffered from that organization's support.

 In Arizona, former Flagstaff Mayor Paul Babbitt was embarrassed before his rural constituents in his campaign for Congress when Republican Rep. Rick Renzi mentioned MoveOn's endorsement of Babbitt. Renzi had been considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents but won easily with 59 percent of the vote.

 In Minnesota, missing children's advocate Patty Wetterling's campaign for Congress suffered when Republican ads attacked her for accepting MoveOn's endorsement and cash. Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy was re-elected with 54 percent.


 One of the first telephone calls placed by President Bush Wednesday morning after his re-election was to Sen. Harry Reid, the prospective new Senate Democratic leader replacing the defeated Tom Daschle.

 Reid, re-elected to the Senate in Nevada by a landslide Tuesday while Daschle lost narrowly in South Dakota, is more ideologically moderate than his predecessor. Consequently, Bush hopes to lessen the combative relationship with Senate Democrats during his second term.

 Reid, currently assistant minority leader, quickly collected endorsements to replace Daschle from at least 32 of the 44 Democrats elected to the next Congress. His possible opponent, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, would have experienced difficulty winning support beyond other Northeastern liberals and instead endorsed Reid.


 Democratic strategists, seeking a more moderate candidate for president in 2008 and unable to find a Southern governor resembling Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, may go to the Midwest instead for Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.

 Bayh, 48, was re-elected to a second term in a landslide Tuesday while President Bush carried the state easily and Bush's former OMB director, Mitch Daniels, was elected governor. Bayh's lifetime voting record measured by the American Conservative Union is 22 percent, high for a Democrat.

 A footnote: The Democrat most clearly making himself available for 2008 at this early date is New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. He is a former member of Congress who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy under President Clinton.


Robert Novak

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

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