Rep. William L. Clay of Missouri, the leading Democrat on the House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee, was happy to see the African-American delegation in the House lose one of its members after Election Day.
He was so gleeful, in fact, that he issued a vitriolic six-page statement enumerating in sharply personal terms why he believed the defeat of three-term Rep. Gary A. Franks, R-Conn., would be good for the black community.
"Like a growing number of black opportunists, he served as a cheap 'gun for hire,' willing to assassinate those blacks seeking equitable distribution of political power," wrote Mr. Clay, who has coordinated his party's counterattacks to Republican education proposals
Mr. Clay, who is black, called Mr. Franks "a Negro Dr. Kevorkian, a pariah, who gleefully assists in suicidal conduct to destroy his own race."
Some of the "egregious examples" of the conservative Mr. Franks' "dishonorable record," Mr. Clay wrote, include opposing congressional districts designed to favor minority candidates, voting to abolish summer jobs from inner city youths, and opposing milk distribution in the federal school lunch program.
Mr. Franks issued this response: "Obviously, Mr. Clay is not a supporter of mine, but I wish him godspeed."
Despite entreaties from some Republicans, former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett doesn't think he would make a good politician.
Mr. Bennett last summer turned down a chance to be the GOP vice presidential nominee.
Some still say the outspoken former secretary is a contender for the GOP presidential nomination in four years. But he's hesitant.
"I don't come from that soil," he said in response to a question after a recent speech week at the National Press Club. "My relationships with campaigns have been a little bumptious."
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley met Nov. 20 with officials from Mars Inc., the maker of M&M candies, to thank them for a new bookmark in support of President Clinton's reading initiative intended to enlist 1 million volunteer tutors.
After the thank-yous, Mr. Riley posed for several photos with a Mars employee dressed as a giant piece of candy.
—DAVID J. HOFF[email protected]