- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2000

'Take back Vermont'

Vermont natives are angry over the homosexual "civil unions" approved by the state Legislature and Democratic governor, and they are showing their unhappiness by painting "Take Back Vermont" on barns and by planting signs with the same message, the New York Times reports.

"Stop and inquire at houses displaying the signs … and the translation becomes clear: We are furious at our legislators for passing a law this spring letting gay couples be joined in marriage-like civil unions. We are mad about property tax reform, and all the permits we need to log or build on our land and all the other laws our politicians pass against our will. We want to vote them out in November," reporter Carey Goldberg writes.

One Vermonter told the reporter: "Civil unions are like the straw that broke the camel's back."

Dick Lambert, a dairy farmer from the town of Washington, came up with the idea of printing the signs, and has sold more than 4,000 of them at $5 each.

Said the reporter: "The signs are, unquestionably, political. They tend to be paired with signs backing Ruth Dwyer, a Republican candidate for governor, who opposes civil unions." Gov. Howard Dean, a Democrat, spoke out against the signs at a recent news conference.

Most of those opposed to civil unions are conservative natives of the state, while those who support the new law tend to be liberal Democrats who came from somewhere else, the reporter said.

A shadow over Jersey

"Turn on any television in northern New Jersey and it's hard to miss the barrage of commercials drawing attention to a U.S. Senate race in New York," Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Tom Turcol writes.

"As a result, vast numbers of New Jersey voters are hearing about the high-profile campaign featuring Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Rick A. Lazio," the reporter said.

"So much so, in fact, that the home-state contest between Democrat Jon S. Corzine and Republican Robert Franks, at least for now, registers barely a mention at dinner tables and cocktail parties north of Trenton.

"The Clinton-Lazio battle could dominate the attention of voters throughout New Jersey's most populous region and become a key factor in the contest for the New Jersey seat of retiring Democrat Frank R. Lautenberg.

"The New York contest helps Cozine, the wealthy former Wall Street executive who bought name recognition with a multimillion-dollar ad campaign in the Democratic primary. His new wave of commercials, to run from Labor Day through the Nov. 7 election, stand to break through the clutter of political advertising and supplement his advantage.

"This also highlights the central dilemma for Franks, the lesser-known and greatly underfunded candidate. In addition to competing for viewer interest with the New York race, Franks will find his ads sandwiched among those aired on Philadelphia area TV by Senate candidates in Pennsylvania and Delaware."

Perverse reasoning

Elected black Democrats in Michigan oppose a school-voucher referendum there "because unions have more clout than poor people," Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot writes.

"But far more curious is the opposition of GOP Gov. John Engler and Sen. Spence Abraham. Their advisers told me last year that they worried that blacks might turn out in greater numbers to support vouchers but then also vote against Messrs. Abraham or Bush," Mr. Gigot said.

"Now, that's perverse: Republicans finally find an issue that resonates with blacks, but then they fail to support it because blacks might not vote Republican! At least Mr. Engler has now promised to keep quiet, while other Republicans (U.S. House leader J.C. Watts, Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus) have endorsed."

Mr. Gigot added: "One other politician who could help is George W. Bush. His campaign says he doesn't comment on state ballot measures. But the Michigan vote meshes perfectly with the governor's themes of education reform and compassionate conservatism. His opponent, meanwhile, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Education Association, except when enrolling his own kid at Sidwell Friends.

"Mr. Bush says he's a better leader. He can prove it in Michigan."

Bush, Gore on Oprah

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush has agreed to appear in a live interview with talk-show host Oprah Winfrey on Sept. 18 a week after his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, makes a similar appearance. Mr. Gore will be a guest on the show Sept. 11, which kicks off Miss Winfrey's 15th season, Cox News Service reports.

Last hurrah

Arkansas Democrats just can't let go of President Clinton, writes Paul Bedard of U.S. News & World Report.

"Sources say the old guard wants one last hurrah at the White House before Clinton says so long; namely a South Lawn bash with drinks on the Truman balcony and catered eats. Who's helping to pull it off? Beth Coulson, a player in Arkansas politics who is also the alleged former Clinton chum known in court papers from the Paula Jones sex trial as Jane Doe No. 2."

Low turnout

Voter turnout in the 2000 presidential primaries, which lost their competitive edge after the first week of March, was the second-lowest since 1960 behind only 1996, says a report released last week.

The leapfrogging of states to hold primaries by late February and early March of this year left two-thirds of the states without a role in picking the nominees. The party nominations were settled by March 7.

"This is clearly the effect of front-loading and the continued disengagement of American citizens from their politics," said Curtis Gans, director of the nonpartisan Committee for the Study of the American Electorate.

Overall turnout in states that had presidential primaries in both parties was 17.7 percent of those old enough to vote 18 and older. In 1996, voter turnout was 16.9 percent of those old enough to vote.

The turnout through Super Tuesday, March 7, was 22.9 percent of those old enough to vote, while it dropped to 14 percent after that.

Turnout was low overall despite the 12 Republican state turnout records largely credited to the candidacy of Sen. John McCain and his intense competition with the eventual Republican nominee, George W. Bush, the Associated Press reports.

Overall voter turnout was about a third lower than the average turnout two decades ago, and Democratic turnout was less than half of what it was in the 1960s and 1970s.

The low voter turnout in the primaries, generally low interest in the campaigns reflected in polls so far, and low convention viewership point toward low voter turnout in November, Mr. Gans said.

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