Dispatches > The Buzz

Flash Traffic

Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "Power struggle," May 26, 2001

Sources close to Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.) confide that the conservative congressman will announce next month he is resigning Congress at the end of this session, most likely at the end of October ... why? ... to devote his full attention to running for governor of Oklahoma in 2002 ... a senior aide says Largent has been studying the lessons of two former congressmen-Jim Talent of Missouri and David McIntosh of Indiana-who ran for governor while still serving in Congress and lost ... "It's difficult to have two jobs and do them well," says an aide, "if you're running for governor you should devote all your energies just to doing that" ... the former NFL star's name recognition is in the high 60s throughout the state and his sky-high favorable ratings should make him a very strong contender ...When Largent resigns, a special election will be called immediately ... the GOP frontrunner for the seat is Cathy Keating, wife of the current Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating ... One of the most formidable Democrats who might have opposed her-Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage-recently announced she's not interested in running for Congress ... The White House is happy about passage of the $1.35 trillion tax cut ... the consensus among conservative members of Congress is "let's take what we can get and come back for more" ... but supply-siders are concerned that aside from the immediate public-relations victory of passing a tax-cut package, the GOP is putting itself at risk in 2002, and perhaps even 2004 ... Rush Limbaugh is calling the GOP Senate a "posse of gutless wonders" ... reasons: the nation's top tax rate will only be cut from 39.6 percent to 36 percent, not to 33 percent as the president originally proposed ... the child tax credit won't be fully increased from $500 to $1,000 until 2011 ... and the dreaded "death tax" won't be fully phased out until 2011, long after many of its potential beneficiaries are deceased ... quips Steve Moore of the Club for Growth: "It'd be a great tax bill if this were 2011" ... for now, however, Moore says the tax deal is "politically kind of stupid" because "it does zilch for the economy between now and the next presidential election" ... The buzz in Washington is that Democratic operatives are behind a new campaign of personal destruction against Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ... the president's younger brother-just weeks away from announcing his decision whether to run for reelection-vigorously denied rampant rumors that he's had an extramarital affair with a state employee ... Bush, 48, has been married 27 years and has three children ... he called the published rumors "hurtful," "sick," and an "outright lie" ... Bush was hit by false rumors last year ... Salon.com's Washington correspondent Jake Tapper says during the 2000 campaign he received calls from a senior Gore operative, saying that Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris had an affair with Gov. Bush ... Georgia Sen. Zell Miller-a lifelong Democrat-may eventually switch parties ... within the past month, Miller has had a series of discussions with Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, who himself switched to the GOP in the 1980s ... Miller discussed the possibility of resigning his Senate seat, triggering a special election in November 2002, then requalifying to run as a Republican ... that would put a Republican Miller at the top of a statewide GOP ticket during a crucial election cycle ... but Miller told Gramm and other close friends that-at least "for now"-he's remaining a Democrat ...

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg


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