Some lawmakers will be missed on Hill
By KASIE HUNT, Associated Press Writer Sat Dec 30,
2:31 PM ET
WASHINGTON - It's just not going to be the same. When
the new Congress convenes next month, a few high
achievers and a few lawmakers known more for being
characters than for their legislative skills won't be
Some left by choice, others rejected by voters in what
President Bush called a Democratic "thumping" of his
fellow Republicans in November. A few such as
Florida's Katherine Harris, former Nebraska football
coach Tom Osborne reached for the brass ring of
higher office and fell short.
A couple of those most prominent among the missing are
Democrats, but most are Republicans.
Whether cherished for their political skills or their
entertainment value, they leave a vacuum.
_Sen. Bill Frist, the heart transplant surgeon and
heir to a hospital fortune who switched to a political
career in mid-life and in his typical overachiever
fashion became the Senate's majority leader just
eight years later.
Courting religious conservatives for a presidential
bid in 2008, he tripped while dealing with the case of
severely brain-damaged Terry Schiavo, misdiagnosing
her condition using a video tape. Last month he
abandoned the race for the White House, deciding to
return to Tennessee.
_Rep. Katherine Harris, the former Florida secretary
of state who was instrumental in delivering Florida's
contested electoral votes and the White House to
President Bush in 2000. She coveted Democrat Bill
Nelson's seat in the Senate to the consternation of
state and national Republican leaders, who couldn't
find anyone to challenge her in the primary. Her
campaign staffers quit in droves in response to her
temper tantrums and she took to the airwaves to say
non-Christian officials would "legislate sin." She
lost to Nelson, but said we haven't seen the last of
her she's promised a tell-all book on her doomed
_Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who lost to
Republican-turned Democratic challenger Jim Webb by a
fraction of a percentage point. The son of a former
Washington Redskins coach, Allen favored cowboy hats
and boots and chewing tobacco. He also was on the way
to a presidential bid in 2008 until he described a
Webb staffer of Indian descent as "macaca" a
reference to a type of monkey and the video found
its way to the press and onto the Internet.
_Sen. Conrad Burns, a former broadcaster who also
courted the cowboy image and whose mouth also kept him
in trouble. Over the years, Burns has apologized for
remarks offensive to blacks, Arabs and firefighters
and denied making remarks offensive to women that two
flight attendants attributed to him. Burns was a big
victim of the scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack
Abramoff. Even though returned or gave away the
approximately $150,000 he received from Abramoff, his
associates and his clients, Burns still lost to
Democrat Jon Tester by fewer than 3,000 votes.
_Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney, R-Ga., who earlier
this month introduced a bill on the last day of the
109th Congress to impeach Bush. A liberal firebrand,
McKinney relished her reputation as a rebel. She
questioned whether Bush knew in advance about the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but kept quiet to allow
defense contractors to profit and accused former Vice
Al Gore of having a "low Negro tolerance level." Last
March, McKinney entered a Capitol office building
unrecognized and refused a police officer's request to
stop. When he tried to stop her, she struck him. She
apologized, but lost her seat anyway to a Democratic
_Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, another
Republican who at one time had his eyes on the White
House. His opposition to abortion and gay marriage
plus his youthful looks and tireless energy made him
a poster child for conservatives. He penned a 2005
book, "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and Common
Good," to counter Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's "It
Takes a Village." But his sometimes abrasive style
alienated voters in Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania,
and they replaced him with an anti-abortion Democrat,
_Sen. Mark Dayton, a multimillionaire department store
heir who spent about $12 million of his own money to
win a Senate seat in 2000 but then decided he didn't
have enough money to fund a re-election campaign in
2006. A Democrat, Dayton was widely ridiculed for
closing his Washington office during the 2004 summer
congressional recess, saying a secret intelligence
report made him fear for his staff's safety.
_Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, the lone Senate
Republican to vote against the Iraq war resolution.
Chafee, who spent earlier years shoeing horses for a
living, essentially inherited the seat from his
father. A maverick, he bucked the GOP establishment on
several big issues and many Republicans accused him of
being a Democrat in actuality. Nonetheless, the party
helped him fight off a conservative primary challenger
this year in a failed effort to keep his seat _and
control of the Senate in GOP hands.
_Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., who gave up his House seat
to run for governor but lost the Republican primary to
sitting Gov. Dave Heineman. Osborne is still best
known as the Cornhuskers' head coach, winning three
national championships during his last four years
there before finding a second career in politics. His
supporters including 1972 Heisman Trophy winner
Johnny Rodgers lobbied voters to write his name in
on the ballot after he lost the primary to Heineman.
He declined, saying, "You don't change the rules in
the middle of the game."
_Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., a cowboy-boot-wearing
beef rancher who proved the clout of his biggest
adversary, the environmental community. Pombo first
ran for Congress in 1991 after becoming disgusted over
protections for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox
near his Central California hometown. He gave
environmentalists fits with his unapologetic advocacy
for private property rights as chairman of the House
Resources Committee. They got even in November,
spending $2 million to help Democratic challengers
Jerry McNerney, a little known wind energy expert,
pull off a stunning upset.
_Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., a master of policy
intricacies disliked and even feared for his testy
impatience. Holding one of the most powerful jobs in
Washington, chairman of the House Ways and Means
Committee, he never lost the mannerisms of the
California college professor he once was, lecturing
fellow lawmakers and reporters often sarcastically
about taxes, Medicare, trade policy and Social
Security. He once called out the Capitol police to
break up a meeting of Democrats on his committee, then
expressed regret in tears.
_Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., at 82 ending a 32-year House
career in which he was best known for his tireless
battles against abortion rights and his leading role
in the impeachment of President Clinton, is ending a
32-year House career. He authored legislation
prohibiting federal funding of abortions. The U.S.
Supreme Court declared the "Hyde amendment"
constitutional in 1980.
_Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., a one-time rodeo cowboy
whom former Majority Leader Tom DeLay lifted from
obscurity by having him fired as chairman of the House
ethics committee after the panel issued reports
critical of DeLay. Hefley retired rather than seek
re-election but continued to be an irritant to GOP
leaders, calling the campaign of his Republican
Associated Press Writers Erica Werner, Frederic J.
Frommer, Andrew Miga, Kimberly Hefling and Ben Evans
contributed to this report.