Livingston Lucks Out

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WASHINGTON: There’s no doubt now: Bob Livingston is the next Speaker of the House, and second in line for the presidency. Rep. Christopher Cox –- who never really had the networking skills to win -- pulled out of the race to replace Newt Gingrich Monday morning, saying he had around 20 less supporters than Livingston. "The truth is, the vote is in," Cox admitted. Livingston can thank his powerful position as Appropriations Committee chair, which gave him a head start with all the members he’d raised millions for. And the GOP leadership can breathe a sigh of relief now that it has been spared a fractious battle for the Speaker’s chair –- and is able to maintain some semblance of unity.

Special Report Of course, there’s still the small matter of House majority leader. Gingrich pal Dick Armey is looking increasingly vulnerable next to football star Steve Largent (R-Okla.), favorite of the conservative class of 1994. As if that weren’t competition enough, Reps. Jennifer Dunn of Washington and Dennis Hastert of Illinois were also said to be considering leaping into the fray. Hastert is a good friend of Tom DeLay, the House whip who has emerged as something of a kingmaker in the post-Gingrich era; DeLay has remained deafeningly silent on the majority leadership up until now. Dick Armey isn’t dead yet, but he isn’t going anywhere either. Looks as if the GOP will get its mudfight after all.