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James Jeffords,

U.S. senator from Vermont, sent shockwaves through Washington and beyond in May when he announced he was bolting from the Republican Party to become an Independent. The move stripped Republicans of control of the Senate and gave Democrats the narrowest of majorities (50-49-1). “Increasingly, I find myself in disagreement with my party. I understand that many people are more conservative than I am and they form the Republican Party,” Jeffords said. “Given the changing nature of the national party it has become a struggle for the leaders to deal with me and indeed for me to deal with them.” Sen. Tom Daschle become majority leader, the role formerly held by Sen. Trent Lott.

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