- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2001

Voters may be more willing to return Republicans to the House in 2002 now that the Senate is no longer controlled by the GOP, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III said yesterday.
Mr. Davis, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said voters love to divide government, but Sen. James M. Jeffords decision to leave the Republican Party has already accomplished that.
"I think the Jeffords dynamic has not played out yet. I think it has some good repercussions and bad repercussions, depending on where you sit. From a House perspective, it takes away the issue of Democrats in the midterm coming out and saying Republicans control the House and the Senate and the presidency —you need to sweep them out," he said. "Now you have a balance. You have a Democratic Senate and a Republican House."
Mr. Davis also said he expects fund raising, already going well, to get better, now that hard-core Republicans have targets for their anger in Mr. Jeffords, Vermont independent, and soon-to be Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
But Democrats said they are just as confident of an energized party.
"Based on our preliminary observations after the Jeffords switch, its abundantly clear that Democratic activists at every level of the party are more energized than ever," said Kim Rubey, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Miss Rubey said there will now be more pressure than ever on Republicans in the House to work with Democrats.
But Mr. Davis said Democratic donors have always focused on the Senate and will probably continue to do so.
"The edge is really on the Senate, thats really the focus. The money goes to the Senate over there for the Democrats, and the House — its like [House Minority Leader Richard A.] Gephardt is an asterisk," he said.
Mr. Davis also said he expects redistricting — the process of redrawing the lines of congressional districts to conform to the 2000 census — to net Republicans eight to 10 new seats. He went through a list of states like Texas, where he said even a courts lines —the Legislature couldnt agree on a plan and it has gone to the courts — should net Republicans four seats. He expects Republicans to gain a seat and Democrats to lose two in Pennsylvania, which is losing two seats in Congress because of the census.
But in a statement yesterday Martin Frost, Texas Democrat and chairman of the Democrats organization monitoring redistricting, said 10 seats is a dream goal.
"Apparently Republicans are worried that their increasingly unpopular right-wing agenda will cost them control of the House, so they are again spinning wild rhetoric about double-digit gains from redistricting," he said. "In fact, control of redistricting is evenly split, and Democrats are strongly positioned in many key redistricting states."
Neither Mr. Davis nor the Democrats were ready to speculate on how many seats would actually change hands in the 2002 elections.


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