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Congressman Lindsay (R-N.Y.) Draws the Spotlight

Feb. 7, 1964 - The turbulent course of civil rights legislation in the House has pushed Representative John Lindsay into the political spotlight. It is not a position that distresses the 42-year-old New Yorker. In his 15 years in Republican politics, he has never shown a lack of confidence or a reluctance to battle both within and without his party. But the role of Republican floor lieutenant for key sections of the civil rights bill has given Mr. Lindsay a prominence in the chamber that he has not always been successful in achieving during his five years in Congress.

For the last week, the Manhattan lawyer has been on the House floor or in the adjoining cloakrooms almost continuously from noon until early evening presenting the Judiciary Committee case, debating hostile amendments, and working out details with both Republicans and Democrats.

In another week, however, Mr. Lindsay may be back in the “isolation ward,” the political limbo to which the House Republican leadership periodically consigns restless young liberals whose acceptance of the “Establishment” leaves something to be desired. The New Yorker has found himself at odds with the House Republican leader, Rep. Charles Halleck of Indiana, often enough — over sending wheat to Russia or liberalizing the Rules Committee — to have acquired a ready familiarity with the isolation ward.

The frustration implicit in being a liberal in a conservative House, as well as a Republican in a Democratic House, have led Mr. Lindsay’s friends to suggest that he take his widely acknowledged talents back to New York in search of political advancement. Two possibilities arise: The Republican nomination for Mayor of New York City in 1965 and for Governor in 1966. Both involve serious political risks, as they offer major challenges. In 1961, when the question arose, Mr. Lindsay expressed a lack of interest in the mayoralty. As a Representative, he would not have to resign to run for Mayor, but as a Republican, the mathematical odds would be heavily against him. The gubernatorial nomination, more than two years away, is full questions. The assumption that the Republican nomination will be open relies on the theory that Governor Rockefeller will either be President or uninterested in a third term.

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