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Broken Ranks in '04 Could Bring Trouble This Year

Webb, a veteran lobbyist and a key player in organizing the coalition of interest groups that backed the tax increase, told several lawmakers that she would not be donating to their campaigns because of their position on taxes and the budget.

"HOSPAC's financial support must be contingent on a recognition that it is reasonable for health care providers to be paid for the costs they incur to deliver services to Medicaid patients," she wrote. "Your failure to vote for a budget that only provided a modest increase places us in the difficult position of denying your contribution request."

_____Va. Government_____
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The lawmakers in question were furious then, and several appear to be furious still.

At the caucus meeting, there was apparently discussion about introducing hospital legislation that might frustrate Webb or even put her at odds with some of the hospitals her association represents.

One lawmaker speculated that simmering anger over Webb's letter might make a difference if a piece of legislation her association supports comes up for a close vote.

Does retribution work?

The actions against Bryant and, perhaps, Jones work only if they succeed in intimidating other moderate Republicans who might think about breaking ranks in the future. But they also could have the effect of galvanizing the Bryant-Jones coalition.

The anger over Miller's victory could spell trouble for Norfolk-sponsored legislation in the House, although there is a conservative Republican senator from Norfolk who might still push for the city's bills.

As for Webb, a handful of Republicans could cause her trouble. But she has many allies in the Senate, and there were more than a few House Republicans -- even anti-tax ones -- who thought she merely stated the obvious.


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