Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell, a confidant of Majority Leader Trent Lott, is listed in serious condition after four hours of surgery yesterday for a cerebral hemorrhage.
“The doctors were successful in accomplishing their objective and the hemorrhage has been stabilized,” said Eryn Witcher, spokeswoman for Mr. Coverdell.
The second-term Georgia senator is in the intensive care unit at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. He was admitted Saturday after experiencing severe headaches, according to a statement released by Mr. Coverdell’s office.
Initial tests indicated that the 61-year-old senator had experienced a cerebral hemorrhage. He has reported no serious health problems in the past.
The spokeswoman said Mr. Coverdell will remain under close observation for 48 hours after his surgery, and doctors will not release another report on his condition until then.
“Bless him, care for him, and heal him,” said the Rev. Lloyd John Ogilvie, in a prayer opening the day’s session of the Senate.
“I don’t know of a senator who works any harder or has a more indomitable spirit. Our thoughts and our prayers are with him,” said Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican.
Democrat Max Cleland, Georgia’s junior senator, remained in Atlanta yesterday to await word of his colleague’s condition.
“The thoughts and prayers of all Georgians should be with Senator Coverdell and his family at this time,” he said.
Mr. Coverdell is a tenacious fighter for conservative issues in the Senate. Mr. Lott appointed him to head the party’s efforts to reform education, Mr. Coverdell’s priority issue this year.
Mr. Coverdell led the grass-roots effort in 1996 to pass the balanced-budget constitutional amendment, and founded the Fair Government Foundation, a conservative think tank.
In 1997, Mr. Coverdell authored successful legislation to rename Washington National Airport after former President Ronald Reagan.
Mr. Coverdell is serving as the Senate point man for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Gov. George W. Bush. The Georgia senator has been busy preparing for the Republican National Convention, which begins in two weeks, although his surgery may prevent him from carrying out his duties.
Mr. Bush sent word of his concern to Mr. Coverdell and his wife, Lori.
“We pray for a successful outcome of today’s surgery and look forward to his continuing service to Georgia and the nation,” Mr. Bush said in a prepared statement.
If Mr. Coverdell is unable to finish his last four years in office, Democrat Gov. Roy E. Barnes has the option of appointing a successor until a special November election.
Mr. Coverdell was elected to his second term in 1998 after defeating Democratic challenger, Michael Coles. He is secretary of the Senate Republican Conference, and a member of the Agriculture and Foreign Relations committees.
John Godfrey contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.