Lantos pledges new era for government

SAN MATEO — While local Democrats exulted Wednesday in the achievement of a House majority and a near majority in the Senate, Republicans said they were focusing on rebuilding the party from the ground up.

Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, said Wednesday in a news conference that Democrats’ “No. 1 task” will be to “restore the faith of the American people in their government” by reverting to a “textbook definition of government” with honest and incorruptible politicians.

Catherine Brinkman, the executive director of the San Mateo County Republican Party, said that locally the party is focusing on the farm team — establishing good candidates for city council, school board, fire district and water district boards — to build that up and take on higher offices.

That includes Lantos’ 12th District seat, which he won against Republican Bill Royer in 1980 and has held ever since.

“(Americans) will realize that Nancy Pelosi is completely out of step with the rest of the country,” Brinkman said, predicting GOP control in 2008.

Lantos, who is likely to become the chairman of the House International Relations Committee under a Democratic majority, also welcomed the news of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation.

“I consider this resignation timed for the day after the election a tacit recognition of this administration of both the enormity of mistakes made in Iraq and the imperative to change course,” Lantos said.

The announcement of Rumsfeld’s resignation and the nomination of former CIA chief Bob Gates to the post may have been a bit of gamesmanship the morning after the Democrat’s victory, Hoover Institution Fellow Bill Whalen said, in an attempt to steal the spotlight.

“Both parties have to calculate how partisan they want to be,” Whalen said, looking toward 2008. “The primaries are still driven by partisan voters.”

The looming 2008 election could manage to keep partisanship in check, Stanford political science Professor Morris Fiorina said, with neither side wanting to be the bad guys going to 2008 and a presidential election.

“It’s a question of whether they decide to continue with the kind of warfare seen in the last few years,” he said. “They can hate each other but they still might find it in their interest to work together.”

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