Washington Prowler

In the Syrup

Vermont in play for GOP. Tax law can wait. Plus: Rumors, rumors. Don't forget to catch the Prowler live on AmSpecBlog.

By 9.28.05

DUBIE DO
One Senate seat that may be coming back into play for Republicans in the 2006 election cycle is Vermont, where Sen. Jim Jeffords is retiring. Word on Capitol Hill is that Vermont Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie was in town last week, meeting with Republican National Committee staff, as well as Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the key recruiter for Senate candidates.

Dubie would be a superior candidate to the Republican currently in the field, millionaire Richard Tarrant. Gov. Jim Douglas had earlier this year looked at the open seat, which is being also being pursued by socialist congressman, Rep. Bernie Sanders.

While Dubie doesn't bring the deep pockets of Tarrant, he does possess an electability factor that Tarrant does not, which will be important in a race against Sanders, who is virulently anti-Bush Administration, particularly on tax policy issues and Iraq.

Dubie is already on record of late saying the he believed the overall approach in Iraq was flawed, putting him in more in sync with Vermont voters.

TAX HOLD
Word is spreading through K Street corridors that any major tax legislation won't move out of the House until early 2007, and that most likely would be a major tax omnibus bill. Some lobbyists have been meeting with House Ways and Means staff pressing for some tax legislation either later this year or early 2006, but given the current ardor for relief aid, and the growing call by fiscal conservatives to trim back spending, most Ways and Means folks think it's politically impossible for them to do anything on the tax front for at least 18 months.

RUMORS, RUMORS, EVERYWHERE
And no facts in sight.

Busy day yesterday in SCOTUS-land. Not for soon-to-be-Chief Justice Roberts, but the person whose fanny will fill the O'C seat.

Here's what we're hearing. Alberto Gonzales is still very much in play. As reported here earlier, he was in Florida yesterday for a speech before police chiefs. During a Q & A session that followed, his comments about his admiration for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist could be perceived as either pandering of the first order, or generous humility. People we speak to, who work and have worked for Gonzales, say he really has no burning desire to be on the court, not in the same way others have. But if asked, he probably wouldn't turn it down.

In that regard, a White House source says that one of the arguments put forward for Gonzales as a nominee is that people who really know him (the President, Karl Rove), know him to be a reliable conservative who would be less likely to go wobbly in the crunch. That sounds fine, but who knows? Certainly not the base.

As for other nominees, the list appears to be dwindling. According to Capitol Hill sources, a list of potential nominees that was floated late last week had five names: Edith Hollan Jones, Emilio Garza, Alice Batchelder, Karen Williams, and Michael Luttig.

The name to focus on is Williams, who currently sits on the 4th District bench. In the past 24 hours, her name appears to have taken on the same kind of airborne quality as that of Larry Thompson's two weeks ago. It may be lifting off because of real momentum or just hot air.

Williams is known to be reliably grounded, bright and talented.

Either way, this is the parlor game of the moment in Washington.

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