Fickle is as fickle does. Almost before the shock of New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman's withdrawal from next year's Senate race in her state had died down came news that another female contender, Nevada Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa, had done the same thing. The Democrats seem to be containing their grief at Del Papa's decision better than the Republicans are handling their anguish at the loss of Whitman. Whitman is the only Republican to have won a major race in New Jersey in recent years and is a formidable fund-raiser. Del Papa, by contrast, was struggling with money, and some Democrats were worried about the viability of her candidacy.

But while both parties in New Jersey are now uncertain who they will nominate for the seat of retiring Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D), the Republicans have a strong candidate running hard in Nevada. He is former representative John Ensign (R), who came within a handful of votes of defeating Sen. Harry M. Reid (D) last November. With Sen. Richard H. Bryan (D) stepping down next year and no clear choice for the Democrats, Ensign has a big head start.

Gore Hears From the Hill

Al Gore still trails George W. Bush in the endorsement contest, but the vice president's team moved swiftly Friday to tamp out speculation that he isn't widely supported by Capitol Hill Democrats.

A number of northeastern lawmakers formally announced they do indeed support Gore's presidential candidacy. The group includes: Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and Jack Reed (R.I.) and Reps. Joseph M. Hoeffel III (Pa.), Frank R. Mascara (Pa.), Joe Moakley (Mass.) and Robert A. Weygand (R.I.).

For those who didn't get the message, the press release concludes: "These latest endorsements represent the strong support Al Gore enjoys in the Northeast and among members of Congress."

New Democrats Like 11

Desperately Seeking: Democratic candidates engaged in competitive races committed to moving beyond old school liberalism who could benefit from a quick infusion of cash.

If the New Democrat Network took out a personal ad it would probably look something like that. So far this cycle, the group has found three Senate challengers and eight House incumbents who fit the description and thus will receive support in the form of New Democrat-sponsored Washington fund-raisers and direct mail solicitations.

The three Senate hopefuls, announced last Thursday, are: Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, Florida State Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson and Michigan Rep. Debbie Stabenow.

The New Democrat Network, the campaign arm of the New Democrat Coalition founded by Sens. Lieberman and John Breaux (La.), also named eight endangered incumbents it plans to help fund: Washington Reps. Brian Baird, Jay Inslee and Adam Smith and Reps. Baron Hill (Ind.), Rush D. Holt (N.J.), Carolyn McCarthy (N.Y.), James H. Maloney (Conn.) and Dennis Moore (Kan.).

The network plans to help raise a quarter of a million dollars for those 11 candidates and will back as many as 30 candidates over the next year and a half, so it's not too late to pump up the moderate bona fides and reply to the ad.

Staff writer Ceci Connolly and staff researcher Ben White contributed to this report.

CAPTION: New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman declines to run for Senate.