Sizing up the new senators.
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I think Senator John Thune of South Dakota also has potential. He had his first election stolen from him and he graciously conceded. Later Thune unseated Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Had Thune defeated Senator Tim Johnson no one would have noticed because that was in 2002, when with the help of Jim Talent of Missouri, Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Saxbe Chambliss of Georgia, Republicans regained control of the United States Senate.
If Thune had been added to the list he would have been just an additional vote. To defeat Daschle Thune had to be tougher. He became tougher and ran what friends told me was a near perfect campaign that pounded Daschle on social issues. Thune defeating the Minority Leader, the first time a leader of either party was defeated since 1952, was an election heard around the world. He has some stature now. Hopefully he will make use of it.
Additionally, there is Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. He proved to be a tough no-compromise Member of the House. He ran an extraordinary campaign and defeated two well-financed Democrats to win without a runoff, something even the GOP Senatorial Campaign Committee thought could not be done.
Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina also ran a tough campaign and has potential.
Will we think of them as pygmies looking back a few years from now? That is, of course, up to them. Right now I’m willing to bet, at least with a few of them, my columnist friend will be proven wrong.
Paul M. Weyrich is chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.
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