Saturday, July 22, 2006

Murtha for Speaker!

As I have noted before, Bob Novak is always a well-informed and interesting read. I have to make a few comments on today's column, however.

First off, Novak talks about dissension in the House Democratic Caucus:


Hostility between the House's two top Democrats has reached the point where Minority Whip Steny Hoyer's aides whisper they would rather not regain the majority if it means Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi becoming speaker of the House.

Hoyer would not challenge Pelosi for speaker. But if Democrats fail to carry the House this year for the eighth straight election, there will be pressure on Hoyer to run against her for minority leader.

A footnote: Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Pelosi ally, has announced he will run for majority leader against Hoyer if Democrats win control. Critics of Pelosi in the House Democratic caucus say Murtha is unsuited for nuts-and-bolts duties as majority leader but would make a good speaker.

First off, this is obviously good news for Republicans. As I've noted before, their best friend is often the Democratic leadership. Typically when I say that, I am referring to Howard Dean's 50-state plan, but it applies within the House Democratic caucus as well. But beyond that, I have to differ with Novak on the rest. Murtha is not going to be elected Speaker, and that's good news for the Democrats. He is a disaster when called upon to speak, and that's not what you look for in a chief spokesperson. Further, Novak again leaves the impression that Pelosi has been the leader for eight straight losing elections. That's simply sloppy. Pelosi became Minority Leader only a few years ago, and this will be just her second election as Democratic leader. The Democrats probably won't dump her that quickly.

Apart from that, Novak correctly notes how optimistic the GOP is about the New Jersey Senate race:


New Jersey, dominated by Democrats in recent elections, has become the best Republican prospect for winning a Democratic-held Senate seat this year. New polls last week indicated appointive Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez falling back to an even race with his Republican challenger, State Sen. Tom Kean Jr.

Quinnipiac University's poll showed Kean gaining nine percentage points in one month to take a two-point lead. The Monmouth University/Gannett poll's first Senate survey had Kean trailing Menendez by one point, but enjoying a 15-point lead among key independent voters.

Kean's edge in the Quinnipiac survey marked the first time a New Jersey Republican candidate for the Senate had led a summer poll since Sen. Clifford Case in 1972. Big Democratic July margins in the state often are trimmed in November. Sens. Bill Bradley in 1990 and Frank Lautenberg in 1994 enjoyed summer leads of 46 and 26 points, respectively, before winning by three points each.

The GOP will have a hard time winning this seat. But besides the value of winning a seat where you expect to have no chance, there's also the added bonus that it forces Democrats to spend millions of dollars that would otherwise go to defeating Mike DeWine and Jim Talent. So it's a nice two-fer.

Read the rest of Novak's column for unsurprising news about whom Bush does and does not like.

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