- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2000

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Carole Jean Jordan, one of 25 Republican Florida presidential electors, got an e-mail so disturbing she turned it over to Vero Beach police as evidence.
"It was ugly, threatening," Miss Jordan said. "It was telling me I would be sorry for this."
The Florida election battlefield is spreading into the homes of these Republicans, who are pledged to make official the presidential election of George W. Bush when the Electoral College meets Dec. 18.
Three defections among Republican electors could hand Democrat Al Gore the presidency. No wonder these hand-picked party faithful are being beckoned by the other side. Most of the Bush electors attribute the effort to organized Democrats.
They have been barraged with letters and phone calls, some demanding, others more restrained.
"I have letters, and I have no doubt there is a Gore connection," said Miss Jordan. "I feel it is offensive to think that we would change our minds. This is not about mind changing, this is not a game."
Most of Florida's electors are aware that Bob Beckel, who managed Democrat Walter Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984, has publicly boasted, "I'm trying to kidnap these electors in states that [Mr. Bush] won that are not legally bound to him that have a right to vote how they want to."
Mr. Beckel, who did not return calls from The Washington Times, has also said that the Gore campaign would be notified if he contacted any electors.
The Gore camp has denied any involvement with contacting Bush electors and points out that Mr. Gore has said he would not accept their votes.
Marsha Nippert spat out Mr. Beckel's name like that of an avowed enemy. The Florida elector endured a vicious election season as campaign manager for Mr. Bush in Sarasota County, south of Tampa.
"I get them all faxes, phone calls, letters," said Mrs. Nippert, who said she came home on election night to find her phone lines cut. "The idea that, as they say, I'm not being patriotic because I'm not willing to switch well, I find that very offensive."
Each state is entitled to a number of electors equal to the number of members of Congress and senators from the state. These electors are nominated by the party and take an oath to vote for the candidate on whose behalf they are nominated.
It is not clear whether there is any state penalty for turncoat electors, although those being contacted are told that Florida is a state with no penalty for such switches.
No elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged, which could mean that the only consequence would be a guilty conscience.
Democrats must think Bush elector Berta Moralejo is a potential swing vote. Her phone rings incessantly, she said up to 25 calls on some days. Letters beseeching her to consider Mr. Gore started pouring in a little over two weeks ago.
"They always try to tell me that they aren't for either candidate and then tell me that I should vote for the other party," said Miss Moralejo, a Tampa resident.
"They don't talk about anything substantial. They say that they are independent, but they all want me to vote for Al Gore. There's no way," says Miss Moralejo, a staunch Republican who fled communist Cuba in 1962 and who worked on Gov. Jeb Bush's 1998 campaign.
Florida electors are chosen by the state committee of the political party. Some, such as Florida House Speaker Tom Feeney, are elected officials. Others are party faithful who have worked on campaigns over the years. Nineteen of Florida's 25 Bush electors gave a combined total of $250,000 to Mr. Bush's campaign.
The names, addresses and phone numbers of the Florida electors and those from several other states were posted on the Internet, drawing attention to what one elector called "a very fleeting 15 minutes" of fame.
But Charles Kane, a retired attorney in Stuart, said the publicity has also resulted in a number of unwanted encounters.
"I received a letter urging me to vote 'with the majority of Americans,' " Mr. Kane said. "I've also gotten four or five phone calls urging me to change my vote. I don't think I've received any calls from the Gore people, at least none that I can identify."
One of those who sent letters to the electors is Padgett Coventry Price, a California lawyer who was disbarred for failing to reveal to clients her conviction and prison sentence for income tax evasion in 1998.
Mrs. Price denied any party connection.
"I sent them letters," she said yesterday. "But I have not talked to the party, nor have I spoken to the Gore people."
Mr. Beckel recently denied ever contacting any electors, despite Republican accusations.
In a recent e-mail, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson urged party members to "express your outrage at [Mr. Beckel's] low-handed tactics." The e-mail urged Republicans to "Help Stop Democrat Elector Tampering."
Mr. Nicholson and Mr. Beckel squared off Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America" with Mr. Beckel denying he has ever contacted an elector.
But Mr. Beckel added, "The Constitution gives me a right to send a piece of mail to an elector… . This is an incendiary time, Jim, and I will tell you, I'll take my responsibility for this project and understand how sensitive it is. But I didn't organize a massive campaign. You did. These people have a right to contact me. But you asked them to contact me by suggesting I've done something illegal. It's wrong, Jim."
Mrs. Nippert said that all the scare tactics and annoying phone calls will not matter to this state's sworn Republicans.
"The more they harass us, the more we dig in," she said. "We're all holding tight."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide