- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2002

James Jeffords surely must be the loneliest senator on Capitol Hill. Just six months after the Republican leadership pulled out all the stops to get the Vermonter re-elected in 2000 including all but sacrificing the political career of his colleague, Minnesota's Rod Grams Mr. Jeffords bolted the GOP, claiming he no longer felt at home there. It was, as the titles to his two subsequent books made abundantly clear, his "Declaration of Independence."
Mr. Jeffords' switch also contained a quiet declaration of dependence. In exchange for his promised vote to turn Senate control over to the Democrats, he was permitted to keep his chairmanship of the Environment and Public Works Committee. But two weeks ago, voters returned the Senate to GOP control in the fifth consecutive cycle a clear, if overlooked, rebuke to Mr. Jeffords' unilateral action. So what's an opportunist to do?
Rejoin the Republicans. According to a senior Senate leadership source, the election results were barely in before Mr. Jeffords' office put out feelers to his former party's leaders. The message? That the Vermonter would be happy to caucus with the GOP so long as he retained his committee chairmanship. Republican leaders rightly rolled their eyes.


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