- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

Hardly ordinary
You call that a midterm election?
First and foremost, congratulations to the citizens of Florida. Despite a highly skeptical world, you not only managed to vote, but your ballots were counted loud and clear. No word on whether Democrats will now seek the resignation of Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who blew almost the entire DNC wad trying to defeat Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and prove big brother George W. Bush an "illegitimate" president to boot.
Speaking of grudges that aren't there, Florida voters also awarded former Secretary of State Katharine Harris, given the unenviable task of certifying Mr. Bush the winner of her state's 2000 presidential election, a congressional seat of her own.
And this just in to the newsroom: Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords has no intention of jumping back aboard the newly refurbished Republican ship. Instead, the Senate's lone independent will be content filibustering with the new Democratic minority. (Mr. Jeffords' Capitol Hill office even "closed" for business yesterday at the early hour of 2 p.m.)
Hats off, meanwhile, to D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, a Democrat who easily won a second term in office. Inheriting virtual mayhem when first elected four years ago, Mr. Williams actually apologized to voters for a petition "scandal" that plagued his campaign this year. But even Republicans agree that Mr. Williams' accomplishments are many and his problems peanuts given the myriad mayoral scandals of years past.
Liberal pundits were correct in predicting even in Arkansas that Republican incumbent Sen. Tim Hutchinson would fight a losing battle against Democratic challenger Mark Pryor. After all, gasped the media, Mr. Hutchinson abandoned his wife for a younger woman. As one former philandering governor of Arkansas proved you can play around, just don't leave your spouse.
Women managed to stand their ground on Capitol Hill, too, after Tuesday's voting. There are presently 13 female senators waiting to serve now in the new 108th Congress, the same number as in the 107th. Party breakdown is yet to be determined, pending the outcome of a Dec. 7 runoff in Louisiana between incumbent Democrat Mary L. Landrieu and Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell. Remaining female senators include eight Democrats and four Republicans, among the latter newly elected Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.
On the House side, 59 female lawmakers 38 Democrats and 21 Republicans will be sworn in when the new Congress convenes early next year. Seven new women are entering the House, five Republicans and two Democrats. And, for the first time, two sisters will serve together in the hallowed halls: Rep. Loretta Sanchez and her newly elected little sister Rep. Linda Sanchez (the two plan to share a residence in Washington, although the older of the two says their bedrooms will have to be far apart).
On the state level, there will be six female governors, four Democrats and two Republicans.
In the "go-figure" category, no Republican since Reconstruction had won the Georgia governorship until Sonny Perdue stunned Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes this week. While in Illinois, the first Democratic governor in decades, Rod Blagojevich, was able to defeat the Midwestern state's Republican Attorney General Jim Ryan.
It was an unusually dismal election for the once-powerful Kennedy clan. Mark Shriver, son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, lost his Democratic primary bid for a Maryland congressional seat, while Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, eldest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, failed to become the first member of the Kennedy family to be elected governor.
Most one-time comrades of former President Bill Clinton couldn't pull it off, either, even though this year's election was supposed to go to the previous president's Democratic Party.
Former Clinton FCC appointee Gloria Tristani lost her Senate bid in New Mexico, former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles saw his Senate hopes dashed in North Carolina, former Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno couldn't climb out of the gubernatorial primary in Florida, and former Clinton HUD secretary Andrew Cuomo abandoned his nose-diving campaign for New York governor even before the primary. On the other hand for "Friends of Bill," political adviser Rahm Emanuel did win a House seat in Illinois and former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson was elected governor of New Mexico.
Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, the much-hyped, last-minute substitute for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, couldn't muster the needed votes to defeat former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman. Then again, Mr. Mondale told this columnist in an interview less than two years ago that he didn't long for Washington politics one iota.
But one-time Republican presidential candidate and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, once a legislative aide to former Sen. Howard Baker, is moving back to Washington, capturing his state's Senate contest over Democratic Rep. Bob Clement.
It was such an unusual midterm election that even the safely secluded state of Montana, where there are more sheep than people, shouted political headlines when Mike Taylor, the unsuccessful Republican challenger to incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, abandoned his campaign after a Democratic television ad portrayed him as a homosexual hairdresser. Two weeks later, a determined Mr. Taylor hit the campaign trail again, taking it on the chin.
It was Winston Churchill who once said: "Politics are almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times."

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