The contested election in Indiana's 8th Congressional District, which two months ago had the House in turmoil, turned out to be the dog that didn't bite.
Frank McCloskey, the Democrat who eventually won the seat, today goes quietly about his business on Capitol Hill, encountering an occasional unsmiling stare or catcall to remind him of the angry past.
Richard D. McIntyre, the Republican who lost, is now on the speech circuit, paid to travel around the country by the National Republican Congressional Committee to talk about the Democratic "theft" of a legislative seat.
And the House, which was obsessed with "Indiana 8" for the first three months of this year, appears to have settled back into something resembling normalcy, with the two political parties arguing instead about the deficit, foreign policy and defense.
"Obviously it's not the issue of the century for the House," McCloskey said recently. "The negative air went out of the balloon once the seating occurred."
Bitterness and some anti-Democrat feelings linger among Republicans over the seating of McCloskey, but the guerrilla warfare Republicans used to disrupt the House and threatened to continue vanished when even the most committed warriors realized the delays would hold up President Reagan's program and legislation important to people back home.
"With Republicans controlling the White House the question is how can you be confrontational without holding things up?" said Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), a proponent of confrontation. "The reality of it is the activists are going to be in the minority."
Rep. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), on the day McCloskey was sworn in, warned the Democratic majority not to "rest on the idea that it ends today. If anything it's just a beginning." But this week she said she was surprised at how quickly the passion faded.
"Everybody at the time, even in the immediate post-McIntyre frenzy, had a desire to get the House back on an even keel," she said. "But beyond Washington, it wasn't very important to most constituents, when compared to something like the need to reduce the deficit."
McCloskey was seated instead of Republican McIntyre on May 1 in a party-line vote by the Democratic-controlled House. The vote prompted an unusual and emotional GOP walkout.
McIntyre had been certified the winner of last November's election by a margin of 34 votes by Indiana's Republican secretary of state. But a Democrat-dominated House task force, set up the day the House convened in January to investigate the disputed election, ruled that McCloskey, the incumbent, had won by four votes.
Republicans charged that the task force was rigged to make the Democrat the winner. They accused the House's Democratic majority of "raping" the Constitution and abusing its power to "steal" the election. They tied the House in procedural knots for days before the vote on whom to seat.
At the time of the walkout, the generally pragmatic House Republican leadership, conscious of the need to work with the majority to get anything done, predicted that passions would soon subside despite pressure for continued all-out war from some of the younger conservative firebrands.
The leadership was right, said one GOP official, because "these guys are legislators and their temperament is to take up an issue, debate it, vote on it and move on to the next."
"The bitterness was deeper than usual and it persists. On the other hand, we're not disrupters of the process. We have to make law," said Rep. Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.).
Acknowledged Gingrich, "The act of walking out was a catharsis . . . that used up almost all the available energy." After that, he added, many of his GOP colleagues felt "we made our point."
Still, partisan tensions persist under the surface and Democrats and Republicans agree they could erupt again.
A sign of those hostilities, lawmakers said, has been the number of floor incidents between Republicans and Democrats, from shouting and hooting at times to several threatened fistfights.
The most recent incident occurred after a late-night session two weeks ago. House Majority Leader James C. Wright Jr. (D-Tex.) threatened to punch in the mouth two Republicans who complained that the GOP had been unfairly denied a roll-call vote on an issue. They said they would resort to parliamentary delaying tactics in protest.
One of the Republicans, Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (Calif.), said the denial of the roll-call vote by the Democratic-controlled chair might have been sloughed off in the past but after Indiana 8 it could not be.
"There's a residue [of hostility] that exists in the House. There's not the easy camaraderie of the past . . . it just flairs up once in a while," Lungren said.
He added that on the day he and Wright had their clash, he was stunned to hear several Republicans at lunch say that they thought the Republicans should not socialize with Democrats because "they can't be trusted."
For the Republicans, one positive outcome of the post-Indiana 8 edginess has been an unusual GOP unity on several issues, which has allowed Reagan to win such votes as renewed aid to rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government and resumption of nerve gas production by the Defense Department.