- The Washington Times - Friday, November 15, 2002

With Republicans regaining control of the Senate in the midterm elections, the majority party of the World's Most Deliberative Body is beginning to look a lot more like the House during the not-too-distant past.
In fact, the period we specifically have in mind was the immediate aftermath of the 1994 congressional elections, when House Speaker Newt Gingrich spearheaded the Contract With America through the House during the first 100 days of the 104th Congress. Mr. Gingrich designed a midterm electoral strategy that ingeniously nationalized the 1994 elections and led his party to the promised land of majority status and chairmanships for the first time in four decades. Riding his strategic coattails, Republicans recaptured the Senate they had lost in 1986, sweeping all nine open seats and defeating two Democratic incumbents.
What brings Mr. Gingrich to mind today is the fact that the House's famous freshman Class of 1994 had another pretty good round on Election Day last week. Saxby Chambliss defeated Democratic incumbent Sen. Max Cleland in Georgia. And Lindsey Graham (an impeachment manager) captured the open Senate seat vacated by Republican Strom Thurmond in South Carolina.
Messrs. Chambliss and Graham will soon join fellow Class of 1994 House freshmen Sam Brownback of Kansas, who was elected to the Senate in 1996, and John Ensign, whom Nevada voters elected to the Senate in 2000.
Of course, Messrs. Chambliss, Graham, Brownback and Ensign were not the only House Republicans who voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Gingrich's Contract With America in 1995 before making their way to the Senate. Wayne Allard, who won his second Colorado Senate race last week, was elected to the House in 1990 and served six years before winning his Senate seat. Mike Crapo of Idaho, who was elected to the House in 1992, and Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who joined Mr. Gingrich in the House after the 1986 election, both won races for the Senate in 1998. Jim Talent of Missouri, who reclaimed John Ashcroft's Senate seat for the GOP last week by defeating Jean Carnahan, served in the House for eight years after winning election in 1992.
Of the 26 recorded votes that the authoritative Congressional Quarterly 1995 almanac ascribed to the Contract With America, those nine House members collectively supported the contract's position 99.1 percent of the time (232 out of 234 votes). They voted for a balanced-budget amendment, and everyone but Mr. Allard voted for the term-limit constitutional amendment. They voted for welfare reform, setting the stage for the historic legislation that passed the following year. They voted for the extensive tax cuts, including the $500-per-child tax credit, that accompanied the 1997 balanced-budget agreement. And they voted for a key bill that set the stage for Congress' later adoption of a ballistic-missile-defense program.
One need not resort to a six-degrees-of-separation gambit to notice that Mr. Gingrich's influence on today's Republican-controlled Senate is even more extensive than the presence of these nine Contract With America veterans suggests. Sen. Olympia Snowe, for example, won her first House election in 1978, the same year as Mr. Gingrich, and supported his fight for dominance in the Republican conference. She advanced to the Senate in 1994, the year that the Contract With America nationalized the midterm elections for both houses.
Other incumbent Republicans who advanced to the Senate in 1994 included the following strong Gingrich House allies: Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (elected to the House in 1990); John Kyl of Arizona (elected to the House in 1986); Craig Thomas of Wyoming (elected to the House in 1989); and James Inhofe of Oklahoma (elected to the House in 1986). Also, then-Ohio Lt. Gov. Mike DeWine, who served in the House for eight years after being elected in 1982, won a Senate seat in 1994.
By that count, 15 of the (at least) 51 Republican senators in the 108th Congress will have been active members of the Gingrich wing during their time in the House. All nine of those in the House in 1995 voted for the Contract With America, and six others advanced to the Senate during the 1994 election.
And, if that is not sufficiently impressive, consider that Robert Ehrlich Jr., the governor-elect of Maryland who defeated Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, was also member of the Class of 1994.


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