The Note: Sprint to November

In a press conference yesterday, President Bush refused to release photos of himself with convicted lobbyist Jack Ambramoff and fended off questions about Ambramoff's ties to the White House. The president said, "I don't know him." LINK

Michelle Mittelstadt of the Dallas Morning News writes that Bill Mateja, a Dallas attorney, replied to DeLay's statements that he is not under investigation with: "'It very well could be that evidence develops which would tend to incriminate Mr. DeLay, in which case his status would change'" LINK


The Houston Chronicle's Samantha Levine Notes that the two liberal organizations to put out anti-DeLay ads in the Houston area used non-profit branches to buy the air-time, allowing them to avoid disclosing who their donors are. LINK

Blunt v. Boehner v. Shadegg:

For the Wall Street Journal's front page, Brody Mullins reports that it is both "legal and commonplace" for lobbyists to raise large amounts of money for lawmakers. The practice, Mr. Mullins writes, includes both Democrats and Republicans, both Blunt and Boehner.

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers reports that Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) is "widely seen as the frontrunner" but he "also has seemed insecure . . ."

"The latest episode surrounds a closed-door party meeting Wednesday, before the Feb. 2 leadership vote. Aides to Rep. Deborah Pryce (R., Ohio), who chairs the House Republican Conference, had discussed a proposed format that allowed each candidate to speak for two minutes, after which there would be 10 minutes for questions."

"A spokeswoman for Mr. Blunt said that he would 'be more than willing absolutely' to agree to a question-and-answer session 'if that's what Ms. Pryce decided.' But behind the scenes, Republicans said there was resistance from the Blunt camp, which felt caught by surprise by the suggested format. And in a letter announcing the meeting, Ms. Pryce doesn't mention questions, writing only that 'Any potential candidate will be given an opportunity to speak briefly to the Conference.'"

Rogers closes his piece with Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), a Boehner backer, predicting that Boehner will survive the first vote and then pick up enough of the Shadegg camp to prevail over Blunt.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) is pushing others in the House to support fellow Arizonan, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) in the race for House majority leader, according to C.J. Karamargin of the Arizona Daily Star. LINK

"In a letter sent Thursday to every GOP House member, the Tucson lawmaker wrote that Shadegg, 'represents a clean break with the recent past and the genuine opportunity for real reform.'"

Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times reports that the House majority's whip race has become a clear indication of how conservative House Republicans have become. LINK

Follow the Leader(ship race):

Jessica Boulanger from the Blunt operation:

Admit it. After Thursday you'll forget all about our election and turn your (collective Gang of...) attention back to things like: the Senate, the Roberts Court, Wallace/Bartlett, and Hillary's fundraising.

And we'll survive.

But to thank you for your recent focus (and before our 15 minutes are up), we offer The Best in Blunt Awards:

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