With Vermont Sen. James Jeffords plunging the GOP into political crisis, winning total and unquestionable control of the Senate in 2002 is now crucial for President Bush and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott ... now a high-level Republican source says the White House and top GOP leadership have sealed a deal with Haley Barbour-former chairman of the Republican National Committee-to head up all fundraising activities for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in what will no doubt be the most expensive battle for control of the Senate in U.S. history ... Barbour, whose lobbying firm-Barbour, Griffith & Rogers-is widely considered the most influential in Washington, could be publicly named to the post any day now. It's not public yet, but Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) is gearing up to run for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Max Cleland, and could announce as early as September ... The four-term congressman-one of the most conservative members of the Gingrich Revolution of 1994-was one of the House impeachment managers and is on the board of the National Rifle Association ... Cleland, a freshman Democrat, is one of the most liberal members of the Senate and his poll numbers in Georgia are now below 50 percent ... fans of sharp contrast and feisty political showdowns will relish Barr vs. Cleland ... still, Barr may first face a primary, since Georgia congressmen Jack Kingston and Charlie Norwood and State Rep. Bob Irvin are also interested ... Barr has excellent prospects for winning the nomination ... the question is whether Barr can get enough of the suburban mom vote around Atlanta in the general election ... but Cleland is definitely on the GOP's top priority list. The Family Research Council is still rebuilding after the controversial tenure of ex-president Gary Bauer, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year ... Bauer is no longer affiliated with the organization and won't be coming back ... FRC's new president, Ken Connor-a Tallahassee-based lawyer-took over as president this January and, after a period of assessment, is now moving to build his own team ... one inside source says Connor wants to "build an institution" and "world class think tank" rather than a "cult of personality" ... Connor specifically wants to "change [the] style and tone" of the group's activities and be "less combative and more winsome" ... among Connor's new top deputies: Bob Maginnis, VP for policy ... Connie Mackey, VP for government relations ... Alan Crippen, VP for academic affairs ... and Genevieve Wood, VP for media and broadcasting ... Chuck Donovan, currently FRC's executive vice president, is leaving for a one-year sabbatical and will work on two books, including one with Connor on pro-life issues ... Fortune magazine released its list of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington and conservative groups now hold five of the top 10 spots ... Top Gun of lobbying? The National Rifle Association, which just reelected Charlton Heston to his fourth term as president ... NRA displaces the liberal AARP ... The NRA "has 4.3 million members, up one million since last year.... Its budget increased from $180 million to $200 million last year, including $35 million for political campaigns," notes Fortune ... "The money supports a state-of-the-art lobbying machine with its own national newscast, one million precinct-level political organizers, and an in-house telemarketing department" ... other conservative-friendly groups: the National Federation of Independent Businesses ... U.S. Chamber of Commerce ... National Beer Wholesalers Association ... and National Association of Manufacturers.
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