Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Bellwether For The Prospects Of Politicians With Dodgy Associates

It seems like the chickens are coming home to roost everywhere these days.

Including for politicians publicly linked to the "culture of corruption" in Washington:

While political corruption has failed so far to take root as a national issue, the defeat of scandal-stained Ralph Reed in Georgia on Tuesday showed that federal investigators could tip some key House and Senate races this fall, according to party strategists.

Reed, a former top campaign official for President Bush and executive director of the Christian Coalition, lost the Republican primary for lieutenant governor after getting pounded by his opponent for his close and profitable relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the central figure in an unfolding money-for-favors scandal. Reed was the first electoral victim of political corruption probes -- but officials in both parties said he probably won't be the last.

Republicans worry that more than six candidates for the House and Senate could be hurt by Justice Department investigations, the courts and revelations in the Abramoff affair. Topping the list are Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), both bruised by Abramoff connections and facing tough races. (...)

Three months from the election, the political scandals in Washington are not resonating broadly as a major issue in a campaign dominated by Iraq and high gasoline prices. A series of public polls show corruption ranks near the bottom when voters are asked about the most important issues in this campaign. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in May, 2 percent of voters listed ethics and corruption as their top concern. (...)

Other members threatened by corruption charges include Republican Reps. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), John T. Doolittle (Calif.) and Richard W. Pombo (Calif.). A court ruling could force former majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) back into the race in Texas's 22nd District, a potential boon for Democrats. Even though DeLay resigned and wanted his name off the ballot, the court ruled it must remain. DeLay has appealed.

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