Robert Novak

 House rules have officially shielded the identity of several House Republicans who switched their positions to permit passage of the energy bill Oct. 7 after a prolonged delay in announcing the vote total.

 Republican leaders kept open the voting for around 45 minutes to pass the bill by a single vote against blanket Democratic opposition, but it was technically a "five-minute" vote. That meant members could use their electronic badges to change their vote without it being recorded in the congressional record.

 House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer later identified two of the secret switchers as Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland and Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania. Also named as switching was Bill Young of Florida, former Appropriations Committee chairman.


 An internal memo by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) staff suggests that Sen. George Allen, a leading 2008 Republican presidential prospect, would have been vulnerable for next year's Senate re-election from Virginia if Democratic Gov. Mark Warner had run against him.

 The memo defends the widely criticized recruitment of Senate candidates for the current cycle by Sen. Elizabeth Dole as NRSC chairman, calling her performance "superb." Citing "the Democrats' miss in Virginia," it asks: "Is that not as big as our miss in North Dakota?"

 Dole failed in an aggressive effort to get North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven to run for the Senate as the only realistic chance to defeat Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad.

Robert Novak

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

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