Taxes and Politics

Rep. Tom Reynolds, the campaign manager in charge of keeping the Republican majority in the House, gave his approval to a bid by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas to force a tax bill through the September session of Congress.

Reynolds’s opinion is given the highest weight, even more than Speaker Dennis Hastert’s, in the current House Republican leadership meetings. These sessions have concentrated on what might help elect Republicans in November. Reynolds previously had been skeptical about the political value of a pre-election tax measure.

Thomas, in his typical style, has kept quiet on the details of what would be his final tax bill as he ends his congressional career. Not as usual, Thomas has been in contact with the Senate, indicating he means business.

Obama for President?

Prominent Illinois Democrats are advising Sen. Barack Obama, now finishing his second year in the Senate, to consider making a run for the 2008 presidential nomination.

One such Democratic stalwart is telling the 45-year-old Obama to run only if prospective front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton does not. But others are advising the popular freshman senator to go for it even if Clinton is a candidate.

These boosters calculate that Obama, the son of a black father and a white mother, could break the Republican presidential hold on the South by maximizing the African-American vote in states such as South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi.

Katherine’s Woes

Jim Dornan, one of the former managers of Rep. Katherine Harris’s beleaguered Republican Senate candidacy in Florida, has told associates he was startled by how aggressively the FBI questioned him Sept. 6.

Dornan was interrogated for an hour and a half by federal agents as part of their inquiry into Harris’s political contributions from defense contractor Mitchell Wade, who has pleaded guilty to bribery in another case. Dornan described the FBI as pressing him hard about Harris.

Dornan, a lobbyist and fund-raiser, is currently consulting for Rep. John Sweeney’s re-election campaign in upstate New York. He left the Harris campaign last November.

Democrats Against Chafee

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), headed by Sen. Charles Schumer, made an unusual intervention in a Republican primary by financing negative telephone calls in an unsuccessful effort to block liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee from renomination in Rhode Island.

The DSCC spent $14,300 for anti-Chafee calls last Saturday and another $11,700 on Monday, for a total of $26,000. Chafee’s conservative challenger in the GOP primary, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, was considered a sure loser in the general election if he were nominated.

Chafee was vigorously backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican National Committee and the White House. In comparison, the DSCC spent only $62 helping Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s losing candidacy in the Connecticut Democratic primary.

Bowling for Republicans

Republicans in Washington were urged to take time off work from 4 to 6 p.m. last Wednesday and go to the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley in an unusual fund-raiser for seven GOP House members in need of late campaign money.

The National Republican Congressional Committee called the event BOMP (Bowling for Our Majority Program). The beneficiaries were Reps. Steve Chabot of Ohio, Thelma Drake of Virginia, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, J.D. Hayworth of Arizona, Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado, John Sweeney of New York and Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania.

The solicitation for BOMP asserted that the seven incumbents "all have a real need for additional resources in the last couple of months before the election," either because of a "well-funded" Democratic opponent or especially high local television costs.


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