- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2000

Suburban circus

The Republican contest to succeed retiring Rep. John Edward Porter, Illinois Republican, has been dubbed "the circus in the suburbs" and "the millionaire free-for-all," USA Today reports.
Among the 11 candidates in the congressional district in the north suburbs of Chicago "are former Sportmart CEO Andrew Hochberg, printing heiress Shawn Donnelley and businessman John Cox," reporter Debbie Howlett notes.
"There are also candidates with more political experience than money, including former Porter aide Mark Kirk, whom the congressman has endorsed, and Mark Damisch, mayor of Northbrook. And then there's Jon Stewart, a former professional wrestler who frequently drops the name of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura."
The reporter added: "The campaigning is intensifying because there is no runoff provision. Whoever wins [today] will face Democratic state Rep. Lauren Beth Gash in the November general election."

NRA condemns deal

The National Rifle Association yesterday blasted Smith & Wesson's gun-control deal to avert lawsuits from U.S. cities and the White House.
"This is a futile act of craven self-interest," said James Jay Baker, the NRA's chief lobbyist.
Despite a running war of words with President Clinton, the NRA had no immediate reaction to Friday's announcement of the deal, and referred questions then to gun dealers' groups.
That reticence ceased yesterday.
"Smith & Wesson has promised away not only its own rights but those of licensed gun dealers and law-abiding gun owners," Mr. Baker said. "While the media focus has been on gun locks and serial numbers, there are many more unreported provisions that will directly impact everyone from the gun maker to the consumer."
According to Mr. Baker, such objectionable parts of the agreement include "rationing gun sales; mandatory testing for purchasers; and bureaucratic mandates of capricious changes to gun design."

Bush's spending

George W. Bush spent $13 million in the month leading up to the nomination-clinching Super Tuesday primaries, according to Federal Election Commission filings released yesterday.
More than half of Mr. Bush's spending last month went for television commercials in such key states as South Carolina, California and Virginia, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Bush won all three, helping him defeat a challenge from Arizona Sen. John McCain, who withdrew from the Republican presidential race after March 7.
Mr. Bush's spending more than $3 million a week brought his record-setting total to $63.3 million for the campaign.
He had $10.6 million in the bank as of Feb. 29, but had $3.1 million in unpaid bills. His campaign balance dipped even further with his spending in the week before Super Tuesday.
Mr. Bush raised $3.2 million in February, bringing his total to $73.9 million, another record. He has been trying to raise an additional $10 million for his campaign with fund-raisers in places such as New York City, Puerto Rico and Little Rock, Ark.

Religious mirth

Rep. John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, got a good laugh when a lobbyist recounted a story involving House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's continuing discomfort over a choice for House chaplain, Roll Call reports.
Mr. Dingell has been leading a campaign asserting that Mr. Hastert and other Republicans showed anti-Catholic bias in choosing a Protestant clergyman over a Catholic priest.
A lobbyist attending a Democratic fund-raiser "was overheard telling Dingell about how the influence peddler recently brought a client in to meet Hastert. The client, who is a Republican county chairman, asked Hastert how he was holding up," columnist Ed Henry writes.
" 'I'll tell you one thing,' Hastert told the client. 'Don't ever try to appoint a county chaplain.'
"Dingell, who has made a lot of hay over the House chaplain controversy, was seen laughing hysterically when the anecdote was shared with him."

Mastermind

A South Carolina consultant claimed to be the mastermind behind what became one of the most hare-brained moves in presidential campaign history, according to PalmettoJournal.com.
"The night before John McCain's fateful speech attacking Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell that some say derailed the Straight Talk Express, Trey Walker, who had been exiled to Virginia after South Carolina, called a few of his friends back in S.C., including members of the media," the Web site said.
"Walker told them that McCain was going to be making a speech the next day attacking members of the Christian Right and that it was all his idea. He bragged that he had masterminded the whole thing. The rest was history. McCain lost Virginia and Washington before fizzling out completely on Super Tuesday … courtesy of Trey Walker, formerly one of the Top 50 Rising Stars in politics [named by Campaigns & Elections magazine]."

Slight advantage

"Only a few months ago, the conventional wisdom on Capitol Hill and K Street was that a Democratic takeover of the House was just about a foregone conclusion," analyst Charlie Cook writes in National Journal.

"The assumption was that Democrats could win the [then] five seats necessary for a majority. Now, the odds don't look quite as good. Indeed, at this juncture, Republicans seem to have a very slight advantage. An analysis of each of the 435 districts suggests that the outcome in November will probably range between a Republican gain of three seats to a Democratic gain of five, one seat short of a majority. With the presidential race shaping up to be very close as well, it appears unlikely that it will have much impact on the outcome of the fight for the House."

In love with Liddy

Despite her opposition, supporters of Elizabeth Dole launched a petition drive yesterday to make her the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate.
"We strongly believe that a Bush-Dole ticket is the best chance for a Republican victory in 2000," said Pam Coy, spokeswoman for "The National Petition Drive for Elizabeth Dole for Vice President."
"She's going to be like a breath of fresh air in Washington," Miss Coy added. "She has an amazing ability to multitask like nobody we've ever seen."
As part of its 'draft Dole' effort, the group launched a Web site (www.Bush-Dole-2000.com) and mailed informational packets to Republican governors and other party leaders throughout the country. The packets include a sign-up form, sample letters of support to newspaper editors, display ads and a prerecorded radio spot, the Associated Press reports.
While no petition can formally place Mrs. Dole on the Republican ticket, organizers hope to generate a groundswell that convinces the presumptive Republican nominee, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, to pick the former Cabinet secretary and American Red Cross ex-president as his running mate.

New Gore aide

A former aide to retired Army Gen. Colin Powell has joined the presidential campaign of Vice President Al Gore as deputy press secretary, replacing Alejandro Cabrera.
Kimberlin Love worked with Gen. Powell as a public relations coordinator for America's Promise The Alliance for Youth, where she produced the biweekly America's Promise Bulletin, managed the America's Promised Newsletter and did advance work on events attended by Gen. Powell.
Her most recent position was as communications director and legislative assistant for Rep. Earl F. Hilliard, Alabama Democrat.

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