The Senate: Cloakroom Power

Cloakroom Power

Backtracking from the barbs he had been aiming at Senate Minority Leader Robert Byrd, Louisiana Democrat J. Bennett Johnston last week abandoned his five-month effort to replace the silver-haired West Virginian as the party's Senate floor chief. "The reason I'm withdrawing is that I don't think I have the votes," said Johnston. In January Byrd will reclaim the post of majority leader, which he lost when the G.O.P. took control of the Senate in 1981. Scorned for his untelegenic image, Byrd, 69, beat Johnston's challenge through old-fashioned cloakroom influence. As Johnston put it, "Bob Byrd didn't get to be majority leader...

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