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ELECTIONS '96

Washington Insight

November 07, 1996| From The Times Washington Bureau

SAY AGAIN? The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee faxed out a gloating statement late Tuesday: "For the first time in 20 years, New Hampshire will be sending a Democrat to the United States Senate with former Rep. Dick Swett's victory . . . over GOP Sen. Bob Smith." Clearly, the statement said, "Smith was unable to defend his record as an ineffective legislator who did not represent the interests of average New Hampshire citizens." Tough assessment, if only it were true. Smith came from behind, Truman-like, to hold on to the seat.

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WINNING FORMULA: How did Bill Clinton manage to become that rarest of creatures, a Democratic president elected to a second term? Maybe just by getting around. In the final week of the campaign, as Bob Dole chipped away at Clinton's big lead, the president enthusiastically worked a rope line in Ohio. He spoke for several minutes to Coast Guard veteran David Mitchell, 49, who suggested that Clinton tap the Coast Guard to help the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Clinton embraced the idea and told Mitchell: "I've been to more Coast Guard stations than any other president." To which Mitchell replied: "I was a Dole supporter, but I've changed my mind."

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REVERSED FORTUNES: When the Republicans retained control of the House in Tuesday's election, it marked the first time in 66 years that the Grand Old Party won the upper hand there in successive elections. But the Republicans have actually had to wait even longer than that to govern the chamber for two consecutive Congresses. In 1930, voters indeed renewed the party's majority in the House, giving the GOP a 218-216 edge over the Democrats. But between election day and the opening of that Congress, the grim reaper visited a number of Republicans, and special elections had to be held to fill 14 newly vacant seats. Democrats won most of those contests, putting them in charge when Congress opened in 1931.

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NOW WE KNOW: California Sen. Barbara Boxer has been found to be a liberal. Americans for Democratic Action, that unrepentant band of left-wingers, has given Boxer something that none of her 99 law-making colleagues can claim: a 100% ADA-approved voting record. Based on votes on 20 pieces of legislation during the year, the ADA said Boxer's "bravery and integrity should be a shining example to other senators that it is important to vote with your conscience and exercise leadership." Boxer's Democratic sister senator, Dianne Feinstein, got one vote wrong, according to the ADA worldview, and that dropped her score to 95%.

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SUITE REVENGE: When your guy loses his bid for the White House, you take your laughs where you can. For former Dole strategists Don Sipple and Mark Murphy, that meant hosting an election night party at the Jefferson Hotel, the Washington establishment that figured prominently in one of the darkest moments of the Clinton/Gore campaign. Sipple and Murphy rented the Presidential Suite for the main festivities and shelled out another $475 for the chance to hold "a special cursing toast" in the infamous Room 205, where Clinton's top political consultant Dick Morris allegedly carried on a long-term affair with a Washington prostitute until the trysts, exposed during the Democratic National Convention in August, forced his swift and ignominious departure. As the painful returns rolled in Tuesday, more than one guest was heard snickering about the less-than-spiffy conditions of 205, whose ceiling cracks and wallpaper seams hardly bespeaks grand liaisons.

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