House Republican Upheaval?

There is no doubt Rep. John Boehner of Ohio is quietly enlisting support from fellow House Republicans to elect him as majority leader in January. The question is whether Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York also is campaigning to be majority whip.

Reports of a Boehner-Reynolds ticket have circulated in Washington, but Reynolds vigorously denies it. If he does run for whip, Reynolds would be accused of cutting and running from his duties as House Republican campaign chairman because of the difficult 2006 midterm election ahead.

A special election in January would mean House Republicans have given up on Tom DeLay getting rid of his criminal indictment in Texas in time to resume the majority leader’s chair in this session of Congress. Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri has been acting leader.

Cheney and DeLay

Eyebrows raised in Washington’s political circles when it was announced that Vice President Dick Cheney has opted to go to Houston Dec. 5 for a Tom DeLay fund-raiser instead of attending the annual White House Christmas party for members of Congress.

Cheney’s support of sidelined House Majority Leader DeLay is no surprise. But the vice president’s presence at the White House party would be desirable in hopes of bolstering the sagging morale of the Republican lawmakers.

A footnote: Word of ex-DeLay aide Michael Scanlon’s guilty plea in the Jack Abramoff scandal has sent a wave of fear through the Washington Republican establishment. Scanlon appears to have cut a deal for possibly naming names and pointing fingers in return for a lighter sentence.

Democratic Drought

Just as Democrats had envisioned the promised land with enhanced prospects for gaining control of the House in the 2006 elections, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) fund-raising hit a bump in the road.

The DCCC, which did well in September by raising $5.4 million, fell off the cliff in October by bringing in just $1.6 million. Republicans continue to outdo the Democrats consistently in House fund-raising.

A footnote: The Senate Democratic campaign committee continues to lead its Republican counterpart. But even the most optimistic Democrats concede it is highly unlikely they can pick up the necessary six Senate seats to retake control.

Rookie Blunder

Rep. Jean Schmidt, the most junior member of the House after a special election in Ohio, was not only booed by Democrats after she implied that Democratic Rep. John Murtha was a "coward" for suggesting U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. She also was privately denounced by Republicans.

She undermined the Republican leadership strategy of rejecting troop withdrawal but not criticizing Murtha, a decorated Marine war veteran who is popular on both sides of the aisle. Schmidt must have not gotten the message, but she later apologized for what she said.

A footnote: Schmidt nearly lost the special election because of lukewarm support from conservatives, who disliked her voting record in the Ohio legislature on gun control issues.