WASHINGTON -- Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's decision to withdraw from consideration for the 2008 presidential nomination has produced speculation at high levels of the Democratic Party that former Vice President Al Gore may run again.
Warner was to challenge front-running Sen. Hillary Clinton from the right, while Gore is on her left. Nevertheless, Gore succeeds Warner as the most likely "non-Hillary" to battle her for the nomination.
A footnote: Warner's withdrawal, after nearly two years of pursuing national support, puzzles Democrats. Only a month ago, he was asking prominent members of the party to back him. Even after getting out, he still told friends he believes he could have won the nomination.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has intervened with an independent expenditure trying to save Rep. Tom Reynolds, the national House Republican campaign chairman, from defeat in his upstate New York district resulting from the Mark Foley scandal.
The RNC is running an ad, which cannot be coordinated with Reynolds's campaign under federal law, on Buffalo and Rochester television stations. It attacks industrialist Jack Davis, the self-financed Democratic candidate, on his protectionist policies. "Jack Davis wants tariffs on many of the products you buy," says the ad. "It would be like adding a tax on them. Higher prices may not matter to millionaire Jack Davis, but everyone else would feel the pain."
Independent polls showed Reynolds down by double digits in a supposedly safe Republican district after it was revealed he had urged Foley to run for re-election. That gap has been lowered, and Reynolds is not now listed in private Democratic calculations as a sure loser Nov. 7.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is not expected to actively support her longtime ally, Rep. John Murtha, in his bid to become majority leader if Democrats win control of the House.
Pelosi's non-support would guarantee election of her rival, Rep. Steny Hoyer, as the House's No. 2 Democrat while she becomes speaker without opposition. Murtha had strongly supported Pelosi in her 2001 victory over Hoyer to enter the party leadership.
Murtha, a hero to Iraq War dissenters, lacks support to defeat Hoyer without Pelosi's backing. Hoyer commands the widest popularity among House Democrats to be elected speaker but cannot cope with solid support given Pelosi by the huge delegation from her home state of California.
The House will be less Republican and perhaps Democratic-controlled because of the Nov. 7 elections, but it may be more conservative. The Republican Study Committee (RSC), the conservative caucus, will gain a higher percentage of House Republicans.
Three RSC members are leaving the House to run for higher office, while eight more are seriously threatened for re-election (though some may survive). Against that, seven new Republican candidates who are heavily favored to win and five others with a good chance are conservatives who probably will join the RSC. In addition, several non-RSC moderate Republicans may lose, possibly including all three GOP members from Connecticut.
A footnote: Businessman David McSweeney, the only Republican given a chance to unseat an incumbent Democrat, is expected to join the RSC if he defeats freshman Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean in their suburban Chicago district.
MRS. JUSTICE'S CHOICE
Martha-Ann Alito, wife of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, was listed on top of the host committee for an Oct. 11 fund-raiser in East Brunswick, N.J., helping State Sen. Tom Kean Jr., the Republican Senate candidate in New Jersey.
It is unusual for a Supreme Court justice's spouse to get involved in partisan politics, and pro-life activists were astounded that Alito's wife would back a pro-choice candidate. The Kean event was run by "It's My Party Too," the political action committee that raises money for pro-choice Republicans.
Kean's incumbent Democratic opponent, Sen. Robert Menendez, voted against Alito's confirmation to the high court. Kean has announced he would have voted for Alito.