Washington Prowler

Republicans at Risk

GOP rivalries undermine Louisiana's Senate race. Also: Gary Hart's latest option.

By 11.14.02

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LOUISIANA LULUS
It isn't just Mary Landrieu who is having difficulties with base voters. Suzanne Terrell, who was recruited by the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee to challenge the Democrat, isn't faring much better. In fact, with three weeks to go before election run-off day, she may be in worse shape. Rep. John Cooksey who came in third behind Landrieu and Terrell in the November 5 voting, endorsed his Republican colleague but has declined to help her campaign in any other way. GOP State Rep. Tony Perkins, who came in fourth, has been playing games with a promised endorsement, dangling it one moment, then pulling it back, then dangling it again.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Mike Foster, who had toyed with stepping in and running for the Senate seat himself, has also withheld his endorsement of Terrell. The two met earlier this week, but Foster said he also intends to meet with Landrieu. Foster, not surprisingly given the state he runs, wants to cut a deal with the Bush administration for his endorsement. His Louisiana educational accountability program is being held up by the U.S. Department of Education because it conflicts with the federally mandated Leave No Child Behind Program. To receive funding, Foster's pet project needs a rubberstamp from Washington. Will it be forthcoming?

Terrell was in Washington yesterday meeting with RSCC staffers and political staff in the White House. "We have to help her get this stuff straightened out, because she can win this thing if we can present a united front," says a White House political aide.

An RSCC staffer adds, "If we can get Foster back on board and Cooksey working with us where he runs strongest, we have a shot. Landrieu's problems are a lot bigger than Terrell's. We fix Terrell's and the voters who move to our side of the ballot because of Cooksey and Foster become just one more problem for Landrieu."

NEW MONKEY BUSINESS
Supporters of former Sen. Gary Hart say that while he'd never rule out another run for the presidency, there are other options that he's considering. "He's in better shape than Mondale and Lautenberg," says a Washington-based backer. "The stars seem to be aligning for him to make another run for his old Senate seat."

That seat is currently filled by Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who is up for re-election in 2004. There have been rumors that Campbell was considering retirement, but with Republicans now controlling the Senate, that possibility seems less likely. And based on the voting trends in Colorado, it isn't clear that Hart would have the support he had in the early 1980s when the state was less conservative.

The Prowler thinks Hart should stick with this presidential aspirations, put former Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis on the ticket and hit the campaign trail. No reason why professional golf should be the only major American pastime with a senior circuit.

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