The Note: You Can't Get Elected. . .

"The DeLay camp exudes confidence even though most polls indicate the congressman's negatives are the highest in his political history and he actually trails his Democratic challenger, Nick Lampson," writes Washington Times' Hugh Aynesworth. LINK

The Associated Press Notes that DeLay's Washington fundraiser tonight that will raise money for his re-election campaign is being hosted by lobbyists Bill Paxon and Susan Molinari. LINK

Leading with "DeLay's faithful growing less so," Lianne Hart of the Los Angeles Times points out that "DeLay has launched an unusually aggressive primary campaign, block-walking the district and holding meet-and-greets that have focused on his conservative base," even if "the $175,000 [Tom] Campbell (R-TX) has raised can't compete with DeLay's multimillion-dollar war chest." LINK

Chairman Thomas retires:

Despite the public bluster that greets each Republican retirement, a House Democratic leadership aide told ABC News that the House Republicans that they really would like to retire are Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) (filing deadline March 17), Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) (filing deadline May 16), and Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) (filing deadline July 13).

Rep. Boehlert is widely considered to be the most likely retirement of these three. Boehlert spokesman Sam Marcio wouldn't characterize his boss's thinking but he told The Note to expect a decision by mid-to-late March.

House Democrats are going to be disappointed to know that Rep. Johnson is not going to retire.

Brian Schubert, Rep. Johnson's press secretary, tells The Note: "She's running. She's definitely running."

House Democrats will also be disappointed to know that Rep. Leach's spokesman Gregory Wierzynski says that his boss is also running for re-election. The New York Times' Robin Toner writes "whatever the national outlook, political strategists expect Mr. Thomas's district to remain Republican . . ." LINK

On the Ways and Means front, Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-FL) is identified as "next in line by virtue of seniority, while Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA) is identified as "a leading candidate. Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (R-CT), "who ranks between them, indicated Monday that she would defer to Mr. Shaw, but that 'if it becomes an open race,' she would jump in."

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman handles Thomas' legacy as Ways and Means Chairman. LINK

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Grover Norquist explained Thomas' decision to leave office at the same time he gives up his chairmanship thusly: "Having been duke, you don't go be peasant again," Norquist said. LINK

USA Today: LINK

The Hill reignites speculation that he will join the Bush Administration, possibly as Secretary of the Treasury. LINK

2006:

K.T. McFarland, Republican challenger to Sen. Hillary Clinton, appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" today to discuss why she's challenging the heavily-favored former First Lady. When asked whether she thought Clinton was "angry and brittle," McFarland said, "it isn't about who's angry or who's brittle. . . I gave up saying bad things about people for Lent." (We'll check back in after Easter.)

McFarland also criticized the polarization of American politics and touted her experience with the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan Administrations.

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