WASHINGTON -- If Republican Jim Talent defeats appointive
Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan Nov. 5 in Missouri, the GOP is determined to
seat him immediately -- restoring a Republican majority for a post-election
"lame duck" session.
Present polls show former Rep. Talent has overtaken Carnahan,
the widow of the late Gov. Mel Carnahan who posthumously defeated Sen. John
Ashcroft in 2000. Secretary of State Matt Blunt (son of House Chief Deputy
Whip Roy Blunt) would immediately certify Talent as U.S. senator. It is
considered unlikely that Democratic Gov. Bob Holden, who narrowly defeated
Talent for the governorship in 2000, would block the certification from
That would produce a bitter Senate confrontation, particularly
if Democrats retain Senate control for the regular session beginning in
2003. A lame duck session is probable because Congress will not approve
funding for the government before the election.
NEW HAMPSHIRE DISCORD?
Prospects for Republicans banding together to retain a Senate
seat from New Hampshire got off to a shaky start Thursday when Sen. Bob
Smith, defeated for renomination by Rep. John E. Sununu, did not attend a
GOP "unity" breakfast.
Republican strategists held their breath for Smith's concession
statement Tuesday night and were gratified by his conciliatory posture. They
were disappointed, however, when Smith said he must miss the breakfast to
get back to Washington for Senate votes Thursday morning. The only vote was
an 88 to 0 confirmation for a district judge in Florida.
Polls show Sununu leading his Democratic opponent, Gov. Jeanne
Shaheen. That lead could disappear, however, if Smith does not fully support
Republican senators grumble that Senate Minority Leader Trent
Lott missed a bet by not offering an alternative to the Democratic drought
relief measure, which was passed by a 79 to 16 Senate vote Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle outflanked the GOP by giving
senators the choice of a bill breaking budget caps, or no drought aid. One
Democrat, Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, voted against waiving the
budget rules. Lott and Minority Whip Don Nickles both opposed the relief
measure, but were followed by only 13 other Republican senators.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, overwhelming favorite for a second term from
Alabama this year, was the only senator up for 2002 re-election to vote no.
UAW AND ABORTION
The United Auto Workers risked disapproval of its members and
some Democratic allies Wednesday by going on record against anti-abortion
picketing in connection with the bankruptcy reform bill.
That long-stalled measure came out of a Senate-House conference
recently, when Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois compromised by accepting an
amendment by Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York that restricted
bankruptcy filings by groups blocking access to abortion clinics. However,
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch broadened Schumer's amendment to cover labor
The UAW statement by legislative director Alan Reuther (nephew
of the union's late president, Walter Reuther) attacked Hatch's language as
impeding labor picketing. It then added that the union "has no objection" to
the original Schumer proposals "that are directed at picketing or protest
activities" violating current law "by blocking access to abortion clinics."
WORRIED NY GOP
The New York Republican Party's demand for impoundment of voting
machines in Tuesday's primary, which gave self-financed billionaire Tom
Golisano a narrow win in Independence Party polling over Republican Gov.
George Pataki, came four days after the GOP refused Golisano's requested
When they first rejected impoundment, Republican strategists
never dreamed Golisano would win a place on the ballot. They now fear
Golisano running to Pataki's right in a three-way race with Democratic State
Controller Carl McCall.
A footnote: If Golisano loses the Independence nomination in a
recount, he will seek the designation of the Liberal Party (about to lose
its nominee, dropout candidate Andrew Cuomo). Golisano's brain trust,
seeking to run a center-right campaign, then would try to change the name of
the Liberal Party in time for the election.