The GOP senators had taken for granted that Sens. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania and Conrad Burns in Montana are in trouble for re-election. However, it was widely assumed in Washington that DeWine was in relatively good shape because Brown is too liberal for Ohio.
Ohio, long regarded as the national key to Republican fortunes, is shaping up as a disaster area for the GOP in the wake of Gov. Bob Taft's unpopular administration. The Dispatch poll has Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland leading Secretary of State Ken Blackwell by 20 percentage points for governor.
Public signs of rare bipartisan cooperation on the superheated issue of abortion last Tuesday proved an illusion, when the Democratic leadership blocked a bill to strengthen state restrictions.
Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, sponsor of a bill prohibiting transportation across state lines to avoid a state's parental notification or consent laws, worked out one amendment with liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. Such a bill had passed the House many times, but never before won Senate approval. The 65-to-34 vote was approved by 14 Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (but not Boxer).
However, when a routine motion was made to send the measure to a conference resolving differences with the House bill, Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin objected. Since polls show 80 percent national approval of this kind of legislation, Ensign has called for public pressure against Democratic obstruction. If that does not work, attempted parliamentary maneuvers would be long and difficult.