- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Katz says no

Republican Sam Katz, a three-time Philadelphia mayoral candidate, has decided not to enter the race for a U.S. House seat.

“I don’t think this is the right time for me to do another race,” Mr. Katz said yesterday in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The last 12 months have been about as stressful as they could have been. I hopefully will have another opportunity to do something, but I just felt it would be better to give myself and my family the opportunity to do other things for a while.”

The race for the U.S. House seat held by Democrat Joseph M. Hoeffel has emerged as a high-profile election for both parties since Mr. Hoeffel entered the U.S. Senate race against Republican incumbent Arlen Specter, the Inquirer said.

Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Frank Bartle tried to persuade Mr. Katz, fresh off his second losing mayoral election against Democrat John Street, to run in the swing district, which encompasses northeast Philadelphia and eastern and northern Montgomery County.

With Mr. Katz out of the picture, ophthalmologist Melissa Brown has emerged as a front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Howard and Hillary

Howard Dean may turn to Hillary Rodham Clinton as his vice presidential candidate, and “Hillary might just accept,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

Mr. Dean would benefit from having a woman on the ticket, and it would guarantee the support of Bill Clinton and his backers, Mr. Morris said.

“Why might Hillary accept? She suddenly has a new potential rival for the 2008 nomination — Al Gore.

“The former vice president’s un-retirement, signaled by his endorsement of Howard Dean, makes him a potent possible rival for Hillary. With his bold support of the peace movement’s darling, Dean, Gore may get an edge among the party’s new masters — its left wing.

“Hillary may also worry that Dean might choose someone like Gen. [Wesley] Clark VP. Such a choice would immediately lift Clark into contention for the 2008 nomination, making it a tough three-way race where it had once appeared a cakewalk for the former first lady.”

Hat in the ring

Rep. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, said yesterday he would run for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Democrat John B. Breaux.

A member of the House since winning a special election in 1999, Mr. Vitter has repeatedly won re-election easily to his suburban New Orleans seat, United Press International reports.

A Republican has not been elected to the U.S. Senate from Louisiana since Reconstruction. To improve the party’s chances, some state and national Republican leaders are trying to limit the field by giving Mr. Vitter early backing.

In Louisiana elections, all the candidates appear on the same primary ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two finishers in the primary — regardless of party — go head-to-head in a runoff several weeks later.

Complaint dismissed

The Senate Select Committee on Ethics has dismissed a watchdog group’s charge that Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican, violated ethics rules. A letter from the panel said the complaint “lacks substantial merit.”

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a group that primarily has targeted Republicans, charged that Mr. Shelby granted legislative favors to Westar Energy Inc. of Topeka, Kan., in exchange for about $15,000 for the House campaign of Tom Young, his former chief of staff. Mr. Young lost his Republican primary bid in 2002 to Rep. Jo Bonner.

Melanie Sloan, the group’s executive director, yesterday released a copy of an Oct. 1 letter in which the ethics committee notified her the charges would be dropped, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Shelby’s spokeswoman, Virginia Davis, said the senator learned in October the charges had been dismissed, but decided that they were so meritless that even publicly announcing his vindication would be too much notice. The Alabama State Bar also looked into the accusation and dismissed it last summer.

Madonna’s choice

Pop star Madonna has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark.

“I think he has a good handle on foreign policy, I think he’s good with people, and I think he has a heart and a consciousness,” Madonna said. “He’s interested in spirituality — I mean, those things mean a lot to me.”

The singer met Mr. Clark a few weeks ago for more than an hour. In an interview last week with CNN’s Denise Quan, Madonna said they discussed his becoming president.

The singer told the reporter that she had decided to support the retired general and she felt Mr. Clark was a natural-born leader.

“As it stands right now, he’s got my support,” Madonna said.

The two were introduced by “Bowling for Columbine” filmmaker Michael Moore, an early supporter of Mr. Clark.

Knee test for Bush

Suffering from knee pain that forced him to curtail his running, President Bush will have his knees examined today using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices, Reuters news agency reports.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters traveling to North Carolina yesterday the president would undergo the MRI exams on both knees during a previously scheduled visit to Walter Reed Medical Center to meet with wounded U.S. troops.

Asked if Mr. Bush would be willing to undergo surgery before the election next November, Mr. McClellan said, “Let’s let the MRI take place.”

Mr. Bush, who has a cardiovascular system in the top 1 percent for 57-year-old men, suffered a minor muscle tear in his calf in late April and tried to ignore it, but eventually was sidelined from running.

Mr. Bush continues to work out on an elliptical trainer, a machine used for walking and running like a treadmill, but which is easier on the knees. He is also lifting weights and swimming.

Rowland vows fight

Gov. John G. Rowland, Connecticut Republican, vowed again yesterday to “finish what I started” as governor despite the furor over his admission that he took gifts from employees and state contractors, the Associated Press reports.

In a speech to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Rowland apologized again for what he said were “failures” on his part.

“But I won’t forget where the goal posts are. I still have them in sight and I will indeed press on,” Mr. Rowland said in his first remarks since acknowledging last week that he had misstated the source of funds for work done to a vacation home.

Once a rising star in Republican politics, Mr. Rowland now is fending off talk of impeachment and questions about his ethics, honesty and ability to govern.

“There’s been no time in our history that the governor’s seat has been in such jeopardy of losing its credibility, integrity and character,” said House Majority Leader James Amann, a Democrat.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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