The statement: “These allegations are outrageous and I have a call into Rep. Hughes to insist that he name the individual with whom he had this alleged conversation. I did not and would never authorize, allow, or condone linking redistricting in any way with the Speaker’s race, and anyone who knows me knows better than to give that assertion any credence. When Rep. Hughes called me earlier today to discuss his pledge, he never offered this as an explanation. He did say that revoking his pledge to me was more difficult than revoking his pledge in previous Speaker’s races.” * * * * Ouch. Straus nailed Hughes with Hughes’s own words. Straus’s insistence that Hughes name the individual who made the threat is exactly the right response. Poor Hughes. I have always thought he was a decent guy, but if he can’t, or won’t, produce a name, or otherwise extricate himself from the appearance of having made a false charge that he can’t substantiate, his reputation is going to be sullied. The question now is how long the cabal can keep its anti-Straus offensive working. Thanksgiving is two weeks from today. When that window closes, the Christmas season begins. Not a good time for a speaker’s race. I credit Chisum, David Barton, Sullivan, et al with a lot of cleverness, but unless Hughes produces evidence of the threat, this latest maneuver is going to fail, just as previous ones have failed. We may be headed for a repeat of 2003, in which the outsiders have little to do except call points of order from the back mike.