It's been a great month for the Republican Party, with victories in the House, Senate and gubernatorial elections. But now comes a cruel blow -- delivered by the Wall Street Journal, no less. The newspaper has banned the term "GOP," deeming the popular abbreviation for "Grand Old Party" too obscure.

"(B)ecause the short form may seem baffling (or even spin-doctored) to some new readers, we want to avoid its use in articles and headlines," the WSJ announced in an item titled "RIP, GOP" in an in-house style guide. "Beginning in December, use it only in the direct quotations and then be sure to explain what GOP means. Even among people who know that GOP refers to the Republican Party, many may not know that it stands for Grand Old Party."

Word that GOP was DOA at the WSJ was met with some amusement at the RNC -- that would be the Republican National Committee. "It's better than RNC," said spokesman Kevin Sheridan, pointing out that the party has a Web site called gop.com. "It's their prerogative. We're proud of our heritage. We are still the GOP."

Adding insult to injury, the Journal's in-house note about the GOP pointed out that Grand Old Party "is a misnomer of sorts, since the Democratic Party was organized some 22 years earlier."

Retooling the Illinois GOP

After somehow missing the Republican electoral wave, the Illinois GOP decided it was time for some retooling. Yesterday, it named State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka its new chairman.

The announcement comes amid what has been a generally awful year for Illinois Republicans. Not only did the party's nearly 30-year hold on the governorship end, it also lost every statewide election save one.

The exception? Topinka, who won reelection with even more votes than governor-elect Rod R. Blagojevich (D). Some Republicans expressed dismay with the choice, saying the former journalist and state legislator is too moderate. She is replacing Gary MacDougal, a conservative businessman who held the job for less than six months. But others believe that Topinka, who was recruited by the White House and backed by such GOP elders as House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (Ill.), can lead the party back to relevance in time for the 2004 elections.

Topinka believes as much: "My election today sends a signal that it's no longer business-as-usual in the Republican Party," she said. "It's time for a new way of thinking."

Calling the Vermont Election?

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) congratulated Douglas A. Racine earlier this month for winning Vermont's governorship, which is funny since the lieutenant governor is not only a Democrat, but also was defeated.

"Congratulations to you, your family and staff on your recent election," Bush's letter said, the Associated Press reported. "I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs in America."

A spokeswoman for the governor blamed the error on an unnamed staffer, telling the news service that Bush has since congratulated the actual governor-elect, Republican Jim Douglas.

Researcher Brian Faler contributed to this report.