Robert Novak

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After Sen. Barack Obama's decisive victory over Sen. Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland was reported expressing doubt to political colleagues about whether he could hold his state for Clinton during the two weeks remaining before Ohio's Democratic presidential primary March 4.

Polls taken before Wisconsin voted gave Clinton a double-digit lead in Ohio, a state necessary to sustain her presidential hopes. A Clinton win there also may be needed for Strickland's chances to be the vice presidential running mate for either Clinton or Obama.

Prospects for Strickland, a former member of Congress elected as governor in a 2006 landslide, are based on presuming he would help carry pivotal state Ohio for the Democrats. But that argument would be undermined if he cannot deliver for Clinton in the primary.

Hoffa for Obama

The unexpected endorsement of Barack Obama by Teamsters President James Hoffa followed private indications by Bill Clinton that the 19-year federal monitoring of the big union under a court decree would not be ended under a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Hoffa previously had told friends he probably would stay neutral in the presidential race. He changed his mind, according to union sources, partly because of pro-Obama sentiment among rank-and-file Teamsters and partly because of former President Clinton's attitude about the consent decree.

Obama has indicated willingness to end federal oversight of the Teamsters. Refusal by President George W. Bush to do so helped sour his administration's relations with the union.

Not Sen. Huckabee

An increasingly favorable attitude toward Mike Huckabee inside the conservative movement, nurtured by his presidential campaign against Sen. John McCain, is threatened by the former Arkansas governor's refusal to run against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor this year.

Polls show Huckabee is the only Republican with a chance to unseat first-termer Pryor. He has until March 10 to file against Pryor, six days after what could be his final presidential campaign effort in the Texas primary. During a recent Washington breakfast with reporters, Huckabee wrote off a Senate run by saying, "It's more likely I'll dye my hair green, get a bunch of tattoos and go on tour with Amy Winehouse."

A footnote: Huckabee raised eyebrows the Sunday before the Wisconsin primary by going off to Grand Cayman Island to deliver a paid motivational speech.

McCain's New Role

Sen. John McCain, changing from party gadfly to party leader, was in Illinois Wednesday trying to elect a Republican successor to resigned Rep. Dennis Hastert seven years after an exchange of insults with the former speaker of the House.

Robert Novak

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

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