Congressman sees Democratic victory in November ballot

Scandal involving Foley ‘will have an impact on the undecided,’ Lantos says

SAN MATEO — U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, sounding increasingly confident of a Democratic takeover of the House, said that in light of recent events including the Mark Foley scandal, his party would “definitely” win 15 seats in the November election

Former U.S. Rep. Foley, a Florida Republican and co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, resigned one week ago after “over-friendly” emails between himself and an underage, male former Congressional page surfaced. Since then, more erotic instant-messages have surfaced between him and other underaged males, but the scandal has also spread to the House Republican leadership as Republicans trade barbs with each other about what they knew and when.

“This is beyond comprehension in its hypocrisy and its cynicism,” the Democrat from San Mateo said. “I am chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and if you would find out that I am running a sadist cult on the side, you’d say, ‘What is this.’”

Lantos said that he was on the House floor Friday with Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., the lone Democrat on the Congressional Page Board, when they found out about the e-mails.

Lantos said that just a week ago he would have said Democrats would win 12 additional seats on Nov. 7 and maybe 17, but now he saysthey would “definitely” win more than 15 and take back the House.

“There will be an impact on the undecided (voters), and there will be an impact on conservative voter turnout,” Lantos said.

Lantos’ comments were echoed by some local political analysts.

“Conservatives like to claim the moral high ground, and this scandal strikes at the heart of that,” said Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution research fellow and speechwriter for former Republican Gov. Peter Wilson. Whalen noted that Republicans won their majority in the House in 1994 pledging more ethical and moral leadership.

Conservative organizations, such as the Family Research Council, have come out and questioned the Republican leadership’s response in the wake of the scandal, and that’s what makes this scandal different than previous ones, said Corey Cook, an assistant professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.

“The voter outrage we’re seeing usually ends up having a highly partisan frame of reference,” Cook said. “This one seems so compelling because it seems to have broken through that.”

dsmith@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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