Robert Novak

 Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's creation of a new task force on communications reflects grumbling in party ranks that the Senate Republican Conference staff is losing the public relations war to the Democrats.

 Sen. Rick Santorum, the Conference chairman, faces a tough re-election campaign in Pennsylvania next year and has moved his communications ace, Robert Traynham, from the Conference to his Senate office. The Conference's vice chairman, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, is concentrating on a possible GOP primary struggle for governor of Texas.

 Republican senators complain that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's "war room" has far outpaced the GOP in dealing with the public.


 Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the most socially liberal member of the House Republican leadership, has informed this column she has no intention of stepping down as House Republican Conference chairman (the fourth-ranking leadership position) in the next Congress, as was reported here.

 However, she has made clear her interest in becoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Her colleagues in the leadership believe she will run and be re-elected as Conference chairman and then resign that post if she wins the coveted Financial Services position.

 Pryce got in trouble with what she apparently thought were off-the-record views when she said the Conference chairmanship was about as high in the leadership as she could get, given her pro-choice leanings on abortion. That comment was interpreted as a signal she was stepping down, triggering a rush of candidates to replace her.

Robert Novak

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

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