Novak Political Report: GOP Fratricide

What Doomed Miers?

WASHINGTON — Managers of the failed Harriet Miers nomination for the Supreme Court set the actual day of her demise as Oct. 18, when conservative Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas called for the release of her work product as White House counsel to justify her confirmation.

Miers’s strategists at that point felt the game was over because of inability to fight congressional demands for documents that the White House would not release. This was compounded when her visits to Republican senators went so badly that further sessions had to be suspended.

Another Harriet Miers

Members of Congress are upset that the Export-Import Bank has been without a chairman for three months because President Bush’s choice is another friend who is being investigated by the Justice Department.

Publisher Philip Merrill’s three-year term ended Jan. 20, but was extended for another six months to July 20. It is widely known that the president’s choice to succeed him is April Foley, a friend of Bush from his Harvard Business School days. A former Ex-Im Bank director, she is listed as a housewife on 2002 political contribution forms. Foley’s nomination has been delayed by extended scrutiny of her financial disclosure forms.

Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, chairman of the Banking Committee’s subcommittee on financial institutions and a strong Ex-Im booster, has made it clear that the bank needs a permanent chairman, even if that means the president has to set aside his first choice.

Hutchison in ’08

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has approached Republican fund-raisers in her home state of Texas to test the waters for a possible 2008 presidential nomination, but party sources believe she is mainly interested in a vice presidential nomination.

Supporters describe Hutchison as saying that if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Democratic nominee, the Republicans must consider putting a woman on their ticket. Hutchison, who has held statewide elective office for 15 years, would head the list for the GOP.

National ambitions may have factored into Hutchison’s decision against challenging Gov. Rick Perry in a bloody Republican primary for governor next year. Hutchison chose instead to seek re-election to the Senate.

Liddy Gets One

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has scored a recruiting triumph after several failures by getting a top-drawer candidate to challenge Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, who announced in February he would not run because of his health, has changed his mind and probably will announce his candidacy. Bouchard is a popular figure in a Detroit suburban county carried by Sen. John Kerry for president last year. But in the fund-raising contest he is far behind Stabenow, who had $4.7 million in the bank as of Sept. 30.

Dole had been criticized inside party ranks for failing to sign up strong Republican challengers against Democratic candidates in several states with vulnerable Democratic incumbents, including Michigan. Bouchard is the strongest possible GOP candidate next to Rep. Candice Miller, who said no.

GOP Fratricide

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), supporting maverick Sen. Lincoln Chafee for a second term from Rhode Island, is waging an attack campaign against his challenger, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, 11 months in advance of the primary election.

The $150,000 advertising buy accuses Laffey of profiting from oil stocks while he complains about oil companies in his campaign. Chafee, who has lagged badly in fund-raising, has not tried to stop the anti-Laffey attack ads, drawing criticism from the Rhode Island news media.

A footnote: Laffey’s fund-raising mailer misspells his name as “Laffe” and inexplicably directs donors to “” — the defunct website of 2004 Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herman Cain.