clearly begun to sour. Though the Senate escaped scandals like those in the House of Representatives, Breaux and the committee worked in a difficult setting. Financial contributions to both parties' candidates and Capitol Hill campaign committees faltered. More importantly, Breaux and his colleagues faced substantial difficulty recruiting strong candidates for open seats and mounting challenges against Republican incumbents. Those who did run were often unconventional politicians--businesspeople, or activists openly antagonistic toward the Washington establishment--which made the work of party committees even more difficult. 55 Though Senate Democrats continued to hold their majority--congressional incumbents of both parties won at record rates in both 1988 and 1990--the DSCC ended the 1990 cycle more than a million dollars in debt. 56
After Breaux stepped down, DSCC chair Senator Chuck Robb and his staff faced an even more hostile setting. Though Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania gained Democrats a seat in a November 1991 special election, the Gulf War erupted in December and spurred Republican hopes (and fundraising). Four of twenty-one Democratic incumbents facing reelection in 1992 announced their retirements, and one--Alan Dixon of Illinois--lost his primary to unknown State Senator Carol Mosely Braun. Recruitment proved even more difficult than in 1990, though a substantial number of strong women candidates emerged. 57 None of these developments, however, provoked doubts among Senate Democrats about what the DSCC should be doing. Democratic candidates pressed Robb simply to raise the money, provide the expected professional services, and collaborate effectively with the Clinton-Gore ticket in the fall. 58
Robb did his job as expected and the Democrats again held their ground. With Bill Clinton winning the White House, Democrats had won control of the national government for the first time since Ronald Reagan and the Republicans came to power in 1980. In their euphoria, Democrats could not have imagined in November 1992 how short-lived their unified government would be. Public doubt about the entire system of professionalized campaign politics was turning into an open hostility that would soon sweep them from power. Though Republicans would benefit in the short term, they would soon find the public equally impatient and hostile.