Sex and politics can sometimes be a natural mix, but here--in the California U.S. Senate campaign of movie-star Norah Jones Ashley--they meet only through the author's effortful contrivances. The big coincidental nonsense at the center: Norah has been political for years, but she's reluctant to run because. . . she once had a secret painful/beautiful affair with the incumbent Senator, Reaganesquely right-wing Richard Hardwick, who has his eyes on the White House. Despite this secret torture, Norah does run--persuaded by her industrialist husband and their chum, the President--and, after a tough primary (during which her opponent, secretly funded by Hardwick, uses McCarthyite/Nixonite tactics), she's face to face with Hardwick, who's getting much sympathy because of the car-crash death of his alcoholic wife. And the enusing warfare comes to a climax in a televised debate: Norah's long-ago affair with a Mafia-connected showman is exposed, angering her to the point where she forgets herself and comes out fully in favor of abortion! Throughout, Norah is an unconvincing, whiny candidate (""Why had she ever developed a passion for politics? The whole arena was a stinking cesspool!""), and Ziffren pushes this first novel over the edge into ludicrousness with a variety of politics/sex side-orders: Hardwick's son-in-law's embarrassing homosexual affair; Hardwick's daughter's passion for Norah's Chicano organizer; an interracial liaison within Norah's campaign staff; and even an abortion/affair secret in the President's past. Talky, seamy, but somehow also stodgily old-fashioned-an amateurish also-ran in the crowded political-intrigue book-race.