Tom Foley may have fallen victim to a perception that he was point man for President Clinton, not for his constituents. Only once before has a Speaker of the House been unseated by voters - a one-term congressman lost in 1860. Mr. Foley, by contrast, had been reelected every two years since 1964.

George Nethercutt (R) based his campaign on the slogan ``we need a listener, not a Speaker.'' As House leader, Foley passed a Clinton tax hike and gun control. He pushed the president's health-care plan. All cost him support back home. Foley also joined a lawsuit to overturn limits on congressional terms. This played into the hands of Mr. Nethercutt's critique of career politicians. The Spokane attorney preached the virtues of a ``citizens' legislature.'' By questioning the benefits of seniority, voters sent a message that change is needed in Washington, DC. But many based their choice simply on who would represent them better.

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