-- Pressure from liberal activists to oppose confirmation of Judge
Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court has been so intense that Democratic
senators may be trapped into a filibuster that they do not want
the consensus that Alito performed well in his confirmation hearings,
leaders of liberal organizations opposing him -- Ralph Neas, Nan
Aron and Wade Henderson -- demand that Democrats vote against
him. Consequently, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska is the only Democrat
at this writing who has announced in Alito's favor.
the number of senators voting "no" will be well over
the 41 needed to prevent cloture. Pressure groups then could ask
why no filibuster had been launched. But Senate Democratic Leader
Harry Reid may not want to risk causing Senate Republican Leader
Bill Frist to set a precedent by using the "nuclear"
option: to end a filibuster by simple majority vote.
Lott decided to seek a fourth term from Mississippi after two
post-Christmas telephone calls from President Bush pleading with
him to run.
Dick Cheney also made a late appeal for Lott to reverse his earlier
decision to retire. The irony is that the president and his administration
gave Lott no support when he was forced to step down as majority
leader three years ago on charges of racism.
publicly declared he decided not to retire because his constituents
needed him in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But he also was influenced
by the probability that if he did not run, he would have been
succeeded by a Democrat -- former State Atty. Gen. Mike Moore
-- in a major erosion of the Republican Party's Southern base.
Republican consensus is that Rep. John Shadegg helped his long
shot candidacy for majority leader by resigning as chairman of
the House Republican Policy Committee before seeking the top spot.
of Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt, front-runner to be Rep. Tom
DeLay's permanent replacement, say Shadegg blundered by giving
up a leadership post to which he was elected a year ago. Blunt
did not quit his majority whip position as he sought to be majority
leader. However, well-placed Republicans in the House judged that
Shadegg dramatized the seriousness of his candidacy.
Although members of Congress are notorious for privately endorsing
rival candidates in party leadership contests, Rep. John Sullivan
of Oklahoma broke new ground with dual public endorsements. Sullivan
put his name on lists of two candidates for Policy Committee chairman:
Adam Putnam of Florida and Thad McCotter of Michigan.
to James P. Hoffa's re-election this year as Teamsters president
has been averted with Tyson Johnson, the only potential serious
challenger, now a member of the Hoffa team.
a Teamsters vice president for the Southern Region based in Dallas,
had written Hoffa announcing his intention to run for president.
However, in two private meetings, Hoffa satisfied Johnson and
won his endorsement.
opposition to Hoffa is not considered serious. Having led his
huge union out of the AFL-CIO for the second time, Hoffa is positioned
to be an important national leader of the labor movement.
survey by pollster Mark Penn shows two-to-one sentiment that not
only Rep. Tom DeLay but also top presidential adviser Karl Rove
should resign from office.
of 1,003 voters last Nov. 5-16, conducted for the Democratic Leadership
Council, showed 59 percent felt Rove should quit while 25 percent
said he should not. Comparable figures for DeLay were 63 percent
and 24 percent. While DeLay faces trial in Texas after being indicted
in a campaign finance controversy, Rove has been investigated
but not indicted in the CIA leak case.
showed deteriorating Republican support for both Rove and DeLay.
GOP votes favored DeLay's resignation, 45 percent to 40 percent,
while 35 percent said Rove should go and 43 percent that he should