According to Mike Allen of The Washington Post, Republican strategists are beginning to worry that the recent ethics scandals surrounding Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) might have a negative impact on his colleagues in the 2006 elections.
"Among those endangered are at least two committee chairmen and several other senior members. Congressional districts that traditionally have been safe for Republicans could become more competitive, according to party officials," Allen writes.
Allen lists Bob Ney (R-OH) as #1 on the most endangered list, noting that he has retained a criminal lawyer to deal with ethics investigations into his dealings with American Indian tribes.
Other members who are attracting attention for ethics concerns are Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), who ranked #1 on the DeLay Rankings, Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), and Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC).
GOP strategists are becoming more concerned as news organizations in various states dig further into travel records and campaign contributions of their representatives, making it look less and less like a "Washington problem."
"'Join Congress, See the World,' stated a front-page report in the Chicago Tribune. 'There's no locale too exotic or destination too far for Illinois' delegation to visit in service of its constituents.' The Times-Picayune of New Orleans cracked on its front page, 'State's politicos like to travel -- And they like other people to pay for it.' The front page of the May 29 Hartford Courant trumpeted, 'Public Trips, Private Funding -- State Delegation Frequent Travelers,'" Allen writes.
Republican strategist Rick Davis said that the ethics problems are putting the party into "a bit of troublesome water."
I'd say that's an understatement, if you listen to one of Ney's constituents in Zanesville.
"I'm beginning to think they just ought to bomb every politician out there," said Joseph Wagner, a Republican who recently shook Ney's hand at the NRA convention.