Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Republican-oriented tax lobbyists are interpreting late campaign solicitations as a requirement for a ticket to enter the office of Rep. Charles Rangel as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in a Democratic-controlled House.

Both freelance and corporate lobbyists have received telephone solicitations for Rangel's leadership PAC (political action committee), which distributes funds to Democratic congressional candidates who need them. Rangel is virtually unopposed in his Harlem district. The lobbyists, who give almost exclusively to Republicans, are told that the contribution would be "a nice gesture for Charlie."

Rangel issued a statement that in his 42 years of state and federal legislative office, "campaign contributions have never been required or even suggested as a way to get access to me."


A Republican campaign operative with a reputation for accuracy has put Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, on the list of incumbent Republicans who are "gone" -- that is, sure to lose their seats on Nov. 7.

Reynolds's prominence as a Republican leader who was responsible for handling Rep. Mark Foley of Florida has dropped him 15 points below his Democratic opponent in his supposedly safe upstate New York district, according to a poll taken by John Zogby after the scandal broke.

Reynolds was slumping even before the Foley affair made news. Republicans and Democrats alike try to pick their campaign chairmen from House members who do not have to defend their own seats in Congress. However, industrialist Jack Davis, a self-financed former Republican, is running a vigorous campaign against Reynolds in his second try at defeating him.


A question asked on Capitol Hill is whether the Mark Foley scandal will kill House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's longtime ambition to be named U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Even if Republicans retain control of the House this year, Hastert is considered unlikely to get a fifth term as speaker. Hastert as a young man was a summer English-language teacher in Japan and would like to return as his nation's diplomatic representative. What is in doubt is whether the Foley scandal casts a cloud over his confirmation.

Robert Novak

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

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