CONGRESS: Building a Byrd House

At first glance, this week's contest for Senate majority leader looks like no contest at all: a dour conservative from West Virginia who is shadowed by past membership in the Ku Klux Klan, v. an exuberant former Vice President who is esteemed as an elder statesman of the Democratic Party. Yet the heavy betting favorite is shrewd Robert C. Byrd, 58, and not Minnesota's liberal crusader, 65-year-old Hubert Humphrey.

What makes Byrd the likely successor to Montana's patient, low-keyed Mike Mansfield, now retired after 16 years in...

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