Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Many of the Democratic congressmen who ousted Republicans in marginal House districts last year privately express concern about the impact on their re-election prospects if Hillary Clinton is nominated for president.

Because of the strong possibility that Sen. Clinton indeed will be the party's candidate, these congressmen will not openly express their fears. But they dread her impact from the top of the ticket.

Clinton's opponents don't raise the question in public. But there is such underground talk in Iowa, the state opening the battle for convention delegates, questioning her "electability."

CRAIG'S RECORD

Larry Craig's Republican Senate colleagues and their staffers were not surprised by the revelation, shocking to nearly all of Washington, of the Idaho senator's arrest and admission of guilt on disorderly conduct charges in an airport men's room.

According to Republican sources, there have been reports for many years of errant homosexual behavior by Craig, a social conservative opposed to gay rights. That reputation may have been behind his failure to win traction in bidding to become Senate Republican whip in 2002.

The quick reaction by Senate Republican leaders Wednesday in stripping Craig of his committee assignments is just the beginning. The party is looking toward a Senate Ethics Committee censure that will guarantee Craig does not run for re-election next year.

FINESSING FLORIDA

Democratic politicians do not take seriously the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) decision to strip Florida of all its delegates to the 2008 national convention because the state violated party rules by scheduling an early primary election for Jan. 29.

Insiders predict the party's presidential nominee, nearly certain to be selected well before the convention in Denver next summer, will restore all the delegates for such an important state. Florida and Ohio, the two biggest swing states, decided the presidency for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Furthermore, serious Democratic candidates are expected to campaign actively in Florida, though no delegates theoretically would be at stake.

A footnote: Florida's rebellion could make 2008 the last year the DNC sticks to the jerry-built system of letting Iowa and New Hampshire vote first. There is considerable talk of revising the entire structure for 2012.

PORK OR BRIDGES?

Tom Coburn, who in three years as a U.S. senator often has tried to force colleagues into politically difficult decisions, plans to offer this choice when the Senate reconvenes following the August break: Do you want Pork or Infrastructure?


Robert Novak

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

 
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