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New Mexican (Newspaper) - October 2, 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico A6 THE NEW MEXICAN Sunday October 2 2005 New majority leader builds network delivers votes The Washington Post WASHINGTON In the fall of 1996 when Roy Blunt of Missouri first ran for Congress he made an auspi cious visit to Capitol Hill he stopped in to see Rep Mel Hancock the man he hoped to replace Hancock urged Blunt to seek the fresh man seat on the leadershipheavy Republican Steering Committee That puts you in the room with everybody Blunt recalls Hancock told him Then Blunt paid a courtesy call to Rep Tom DeLay a Texan who had ascended to the No 3ranking whip job in 10 short years I left that meet ing thinking this is a great guy to work Blunt said in an interview Friday He consulted with DeLay over the course of his campaign and arrived in Washington as the protege of one of the most powerful men in town Blunt would outpace his onetime mentor by rising from lowly Missouri freshman to interim majority leader in just nine years When DeLay was forced to step down as majority leader on Wednes day after he was indicted by an Austin Texas grand jury Blunt went to House Speaker Dennis Hastert RI1L and argued persuasively that he should get the job His challenge now many lawmak ers and aides agree is to prove his mettle in a higherprofile post while not appearing too ambitious lest he become a threat to DeLay who has vowed to return to his job when his legal problems are resolved Although the two have very different personalities Blunt has modeled his political career on DeLays becoming in many respects a replica of the for mer majority leader Like DeLay Blunt quickly set up multiple political com mittees to establish a power base in the House Blunt has strengthened and enlarged DeLays K Street alliance with Wash ington lobbyists The two have a simi lar network of major corporate donors Both have extensive financial ties to the Washington lobbying firm Alex ander Strategy Group Some of Blunts actions have raised ethical issues With a smoother and less intimidat ing demeanor than DeLays Blunt is regarded by some of his colleagues as a somewhat less effective whip But he does score points for creativity by devel oping alliances with lobbying groups including some with Democratic lean ings to help lobby reluctant members Blunt delivered more than 50 con secutive victories for the GOP leader ship on tough fights over issues includ ing tax and trade bills Alaska drilling District of Columbia school choice and tort reform Blunt refers to the chaos of the past week as unfortunate made all the more trying because of conflicting reports and rumors about the events some suggesting he had sought to ben efit from DeLays problems According to Blunt he met with Hastert on Wednesday morning to discuss how to proceed without DeLay Rumors were flying at the time that the leadership would choose Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier to temporarily assume the majority leaders duties But by the end of the meeting Hastert had decided to put Blunt in the post with Dreier tak ing a supporting role The GOP ence then affirmed the Blunt said Friday that amounted to a redistribution of duties among leaders already in place j puting reports of infighting and unrest j among the Republicans Blunt asserted j that the DeLay debacle has worked to j solidify our conference in a way that hasnt existed in a j Blunt 55 known for his arching eyeJ brows and Southern Missouri twang I is the son of a state representative and taught history before being named Greene County clerk by thenGov Christopher Bond He was always good at finding powerful mentors another being John Ashcroft the former sena tor and attorney general Oklahoma game goes on despite explosion The Associated Press NORMAN Okla Oneper son was killed in an explosion near a packed football stadium at the University of Oklahoma on Saturday night in what authori ties said appeared to be a suicide The blast in a traffic circle about 100 yards from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium could be heard by some in the crowd of but university President David Boren said no one inside the stadium was ever in danger There was no information about the person who was killed and no reports of any other injuries Officers cordoned off an area west of the stadium after the explosion and nobody was allowed out of the stadium for about a halfhour after the blast which occurred shortly before 8 about halftime of the Sooners game against Kansas State The game continued ho Del Este iMUjilih r i rut ilif i i Yvllli w IH ii lliii vill I iv IHW in iii 1 I nilInl with liinli inn invv ni up jiiinlty KIHIII ii nwnliwn Ml S H Chris Haynes llltult Sothebys For Making our Opening Year here a Success Weve expanded and Relocated to 130 Lincoln Ave 9898788 Saturday October 1st Live Music Champagne Free Rug for All am to pm ALL RUGS 9O OFF SALE Continues through October 7th Over rugs to choose from Oriental Ru cover your wrU with the worlds finest Free 1 Hr Parking 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