Evans-Novak Political Report

ENPR: FINAL EDITION

Dear Reader,

As you may have read in the Evans-Novak Political Report, my recent health issues have forced me to give up active participation in the newsletter. Thankfully, my gifted deputy, Tim Carney, has ably filled the void for the past few months.

However, with the election and the inauguration behind us, and after much thought and deliberation with my publisher, we have decided that it is time to retire the Evans-Novak Political Report.

As you might imagine, this was an extremely difficult decision for me, and one I did not make lightly. It has been an honor to report on American politics for more than five decades, covering eight presidents, 23 Congressional elections and state and countless local elections and issues. I am grateful for your support of the Evans-Novak Political Report over the years, and wish you and your family all the best.

Sincerely,
Robert D. Novak
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To Our Readers:

As you can see in the accompanying letter this will be our final issue.

Therefore, we thought you would enjoy a look back of this newsletter:

In 1967, four years after Rowland Evans and Bob Novak joined forces for a six-times-a-week newspaper syndicated column, the two ace journalists launched a bi-weekly political newsletter with the name Evans-Novak Political Report

In 1967, four years after Rowland Evans and Bob Novak joined forces for a six-times-a-week syndicated newspaper column, the two ace journalists launched a bi-weekly political newsletter with the name, the Evans-Novak Political Report.

While their column was built around unearthing news about those in power and those aspiring to power, Evans and Novak used their newsletter to analyze the political scene, note trends and shifts in the landscape, and forecast elections. While both writers had their own opinions on policies and politicians opinions they shared in columns and television appearances ENPR, in order to be useful to readers trying to understand the political scene, always aimed to set aside political prejudices.

From the start, ENPR succeeded in stirring up strife, landing Evans and Novak on Richard Nixon’s enemies list when an early newsletter drew attention to the disconnect between the President’s demeanor and the real troubles he faced.

Throughout ENPR’s history, dozens of journalists working for or with Evans and Novak have contributed to the newsletter. It was the journalistic training ground of many young journalists including the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, and National Review Online’s David Freddoso. I, too, served as a staff writer, from 2002 through 2004, before returning in 2006 as senior reporter and more recently as editor.

ENPR’s reporters and editors dug into every potentially competitive U.S. House and Senate race, poked their noses around Capitol Hill, and burned up the phone lines to sources in federal agencies, campaigns, and parties all with the aim of providing our readers with the most complete analysis of the political scene.

ENPR was among the first covering each House and Senate race and sizing up all the candidates. Evans and Novak were pioneers in this field, and for an aspiring politician looking to get his name known, trotting into the Evans and Novak offices was the way to show up on the radar.

Eventually Eagle Publishing bought the newsletter from Novak, leaving all editorial and hiring decisions in Novak’s hands, but handling the business end. In the last decade, we began using the Internet and e-mail to distribute the newsletter, but the content remained the same.

In the prediction game, we had hits and misses. In 2002 and 2004, we beat the other prognosticators by refusing to read the elections as national races, but instead picking apart all 435 House races and all 34-or-so Senate races on their own. We were nearly perfect in those two cycles. On the other hand, the Democratic tidal wave of 2006 was more forceful than we had anticipated.

Last year, we correctly called Obama’s Iowa win and Hillary Clinton’s third-place finish, and we explained early that Mike Huckabee’s caucus victory put McCain in the driver’s seat for the GOP nomination. Come November, we underestimated Obama’s Electoral College victory, but we got the Senate perfect and nearly nailed the Democrats’ net pickup in the House.

We’ve also gotten some scoops over the years. In 2001, ENPR was the first outlet to report that Sen. Jim Jeffords ( Vt.) was bolting the Republican Party, swinging control of the Senate to the Democrats. In 2007, we were the first to report that Rep. Dennis Hastert ( Ill.) was resigning his seat early, triggering a special election.

But more important than the predictions or the scoops was the analysis. ENPR didn’t engage in ideological arguments or the deaf-dumb-blind reportage that can make some newspaper stories useless. We didn’t waste space with quotes-for-the-sake-of-quotes, and frankly, we didn’t always give all sides equal space equal space and politicians’ quotes are often more distracting than informative. Our reporting was mostly on-background conversations with sources in the know, so that we could put our readers in the know.

We hope you think we succeeded.

Senate 2010

Illinois:With Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and colleagues caving and seating Rod Blagojevich-appointed Democrat Roland Burris, fresh life has been breathed into Republican hopes of winning their first Senate race in Illinois since 1998. The 71-year-old Burris has never publicly agreed that he wouldn’t run for a full term in 2010 and odds are strong he will face a primary challenge. Two Republican U.S. House members moderate Mark Kirk and conservative Pete Roskam are both reportedly considering a Senate race. The entire cloud hanging over the drama culminating in the impeachment of Blagojevich is not likely to go away soon and a likely indictment and criminal trial of the deposed Democrat can only help Republican chances in 2010.

New Hampshire: The surprise naming of Republican Sen. Judd Gregg as secretary of Commerce changes the political landscape here in a big way. Despite major Democratic gains in ’06 and ’08, Gregg would have been a favorite to win a fourth term in 2010. With his exit, Gov. John Lynch (D) named longtime Gregg associate and ex-University of New Hampshire President Bonnie Newman as interim senator. A self-described "moderate," Republican Newman, who backed Lynch for governor, has pledged to serve only the remainder of Gregg’s term and not run in 2010 when Lynch himself is expected to make a Senate race. With New Hampshire Democrats controlling the governorship, the other U.S. Senate seat, both U.S. House seats, and a majority in both houses of the state legislature, the GOP does not have a strong bench here and the names mentioned as Senate candidates are increasingly those from the past, such as former Sen. John Sununu and ex-Gov. Craig Benson. The GOP will be hard-pressed to hold onto this seat in 2010.

New York: Surprisingly, Republicans are beginning to show some enthusiasm about winning the special election in 2010 for the remaining two years of Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat. Appointed Sen. Kirsten Gildebrand (D), a two-term member of the House, has infuriated the liberal downstate voters (who increasingly cast the bulk of Democratic primary votes here) with her record of opposing gun control, taking a harder line on illegal immigration, and voting against the Wall Street bailout. Long Island Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, an outspoken gun control proponent, has strongly hinted she will take on Gildebrand in the Democratic primary next year. GOPers would love to see Rudy Giuliani run for the Senate, but sources close to the former New York mayor tell us he is uninterested. Rep. Peter King, considered far more conservative than Giuliani, has had some close calls in recent elections and is exploring a bid for either governor or senator in 2010.

A Final Word:

We are in fact, entering a new era of American politics. But then again, we frequently enter new eras of American politics. Barack Obama has immense political capital and popularity. Democrats are gaining politically in every corner of the map, and at every level of government. Obama’s popularity and political skill contribute to this rising Democratic tide.

But ENPR has seen this before, in 1974, 1980, 1994, and 2006. "Paradigm Shifts" are a fact of political life, and only those with short memories believe that the resulting political alignment from these shifts is permanent.

Political trends always reverse. Republicans, after 12 years of accelerating federal spending, two weeks ago unanimously rejected Obama’s stimulus bill in the House–reminiscent of their rejection of Bill Clinton’s 1993 budget. Conservative Republican senators this week, while attacking the stimulus bill, also called on Obama to withdraw his nomination of Tom Daschle as secretary of Health and Human Services, which he eventually did. The fighting spirit that had been heavily sapped–or co-opted by President Bush–is back.

Obama, meanwhile, may be redefining the political operations of a sitting President. Within the Democratic National Committee, he has created a new organization that will try to harness the grassroots base that drove him to victory in November, and mobilize these people to push his agenda–presumably in the districts of wavering congressmen. Obama, in other words, may the first President to effectively cash in–and bank–political capital.

Also, Obama’s readiness to toss overboard secondary goals–his support for corn ethanol, the Daschle and Richardson nominations, funding for contraception in the stimulus–suggests that he rejects the past Democratic Party modus operandi of fighting to win over every inch. Instead, he has some core, longer-term goals, and anything peripheral to them can go by the wayside.

Obama may enjoy a longer honeymoon than most Presidents, but it already seems to be coming to an end as various polls find a large portion of the public turning against the huge stimulus bill with its massive deficit spending. He will stumble. Republicans will build new political coalitions, and, even if they don’t get back a majority of either chamber in the near future, the pendulum will eventually swing back.

Politics has a tendency to cast down the mighty and lift up the lowly. Politics makes a fool of any commentator or participant who, explaining the significance of a recent political development, uses the words "never" or "from now on."

Everything about politics–the heroes, the goats, the dynamics, the rules of thumb, the alliances, the enmities–comes and goes. With sadness, so does the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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