WASHINGTON -- Analysts at the Republican National Committee (RNC) have sent this warning to the House of Representatives: the party is in danger of losing 25 seats in the 2006 election and, therefore, of losing control of the House for the first time since the 1994 election.
Although some Republicans on Capitol Hill believe the RNC is just trying to frighten them, concern about keeping the present 232 to 202 edge pervades GOP ranks. The second mid-term election of an eight-year presidency often produces heavy congressional losses for the party in power.
A footnote: Rep. Christopher Shays, re-elected from his Connecticut district last year with 52 percent, is considered by colleagues as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent. Other especially shaky GOP House members include Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania and Rob Simmons of Connecticut.
Lobbyists who had just dug deep for a fund-raiser by Rep. Rob Portman were unhappy Thursday when they learned of his surprise nomination by President Bush as U.S. trade representative.
Portman held a massive $2,500-a-ticket fund-raiser March 8 at the Jones Day law firm building on Capitol Hill. He also was selling tickets for a New York fund-raiser scheduled for Monday in the Sky Club of the Metropolitan Life building. Portman's Cincinnati district is safely Republican, but he has distributed funds to other House members.
Contributors grumbled that they wrote checks to Portman when he was chairman of the House Republican leadership and a key member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Now, they said, he is just another bureaucrat. When they learned of his appointment, several asked Portman to return their money.
Although President Bush's selection of Robert Zoellick as deputy secretary of state was praised by most U.S. allies, it did not make Japan happy.
Japanese diplomats view Zoellick as "anti-Japanese" because of his positions on problems involving U.S.-Japan trade. In particular, they do not like his record on U.S. beef exports to Japan.
A footnote: Japanese diplomats are also less than thrilled by Tom Schieffer, Bush's friend and former partner in owning the Texas Rangers baseball team, as U.S. ambassador in Tokyo. They complain that Schieffer, currently ambassador to Australia, breaks a succession of distinguished elder statesmen sent to Japan as ambassador (Mike Mansfield, Walter Mondale, Tom Foley and Howard Baker).