May 21, 2002


It's Jeffords Week in the Senate (Paul Kane, May 20, 2002 , Roll Call)
"The only things I asked [of Daschle] was for him to take care of my staff and take care of my cows," Jeffords said.

But Jeffords' move has also had a counter-effect, creating an energy and an anger among conservative Republican base voters who are eager to reclaim the majority this fall. As of March 31, the National Republican Senatorial Committee had a $5 million cash-on-hand advantage compared to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, far ahead of where the Senate Republican campaign committee was two years ago.

The NRSC has also recruited a crop of seasoned contenders in most open seats and a handful of strong challengers to Democratic incumbents. Republicans contend that during the past six months they have been driving the agenda in the Senate, putting Daschle on the defensive as they have parried the message that Senate Democrats have obstructed the popular President's agenda.

"It's crystallized our goal,"NRSC Chairman Bill Frist (Tenn.) said. "Once he made the decision, it allowed us to crystallize our vision."

Lott admitted that, after hitting the political trifecta of holding the White House, Senate and House at the same time, he and his colleagues had gone soft. "Going back in the minority has a way of focusing you. We were not as focused last year as we should have been," said Lott, who after Jeffords' switch drafted a "war memo" referring to the illegitimate Democratic majority.

One GOP leader said Jeffords didn't understand the impact his decision would have, both on his longtime Republican friends and in terms of how strongly conservatives would seek to exact revenge at the polls. "I'm not sure he was aware of the magnitude of what he was doing," said Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.).

Think of Jim Jeffords as the ugliest girl at a dance and the Republican Party and the Democratic Party as the only two guys without partners. Whichever guy gets skunked is going to be more bitter than the guy who gets the girl is going to be proud, right? Posted by Orrin Judd at May 21, 2002 7:07 AM
Comments for this post are closed.