WASHINGTON -- When Rep. Beryl Anthony, D-Ark., lost his primary election race in June, many thought municipal finance had suffered its worst setback since tax reform.
Bond lobbyists were depressed at the prospect of not finding another member of Congress who might be as willing to fight for issuers' concerns.
But the defeat of the market's chief congressional champion may yet prove to be a victory for public finance.
Although Mr. Anthony won't be on the Ways and Means Committee after the end of this year, he may be in an even better position to carry on his campaign to make responsible rollbacks in the tax law curbs on bonds.
If Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton is elected President as increasingly seems probable, Mr. Anthony is likely to be appointed to a high-ranking position in the White House or the Treasury.
That would put the municipal market in the position -- for the first time in many years -- of having an extremely effective advocate for public finance within the administration.
It's clear that Mr. Anthony already has Gov. Clinton's ear.
The Democratic presidential candidate has been a member of the Anthony Public Finance Commission since it was founded in 1988 and is a strong advocate of easing the tax law bond curbs and beefing up the nation's infrastructure.
A letter Gov. Clinton sent to Mr. Anthony about 10 days ago congratulating him on receiving an award from the National Association of Bond Lawyers indicates the legislator will have his ear in the future.
"You have successfully undertaken the role of educating Congress on the importance of infrastructure investment -- an education that must continue if we are to restore economic health of this nation ... Thank you for assuming the leadership role for those of us who support public financing," Gov. Clinton wrote.
Although Mr. Anthony is unlikely to be named Treasury Secretary or White House chief of staff, there are a number of likely positions for him with a Clinton administration.
Those range from heading domestic policy or intergovernmental affairs at the White House to being an assistant secretary for legislative affairs or tax policy at the Treasury.
No matter what position he lands in, one thing is clear.
Mr. Anthony is adept at politics and policy. He knows how to work the system and get things done.
He did more to transform thinking in Congress about tax-exempt bonds than anyone and has a fighting chance of transforming some of the deeply ingrained thinking about municipal bonds within the executive branch.
If Mr. Clinton wins the election, the bond market's loss in Congress last June may become its gain in the White House.