- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2005

District by district

“A treasure trove of data on the meaning of the 2004 presidential election has just been released, and you can bet that if reporters don’t look at it carefully, strategists for potential candidates will. The 2004 election numbers may explain why Hillary Clinton is taking care to present herself as a centrist,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“While we vote for president in local precincts and then see the election results reported by state and county, the way to get a feeling for the underlying trends of an election is to wait for the results to be broken down into the nation’s 435 congressional districts. Only a handful of states adequately compile presidential election results by congressional districts.

“That’s why political junkies appreciate the efforts of Polidata, a database firm run by Clark Bensen, which just spent months collecting precinct-level data from local officials and belatedly giving a fresh perspective on how George W. Bush assembled his winning coalition,” Mr. Fund said.

“In 2000, Mr. Bush carried 228 congressional districts to Al Gore’s 207 on his way to one of the closest victories in American history. This year Mr. Bush carried 255 congressional districts, nearly six in 10. The number of ‘turnover’ districts — those voting for a House member of one party and a presidential candidate of the other — continues to shrink, mostly due to the growth of straight-ticket voting and gerrymandering. …

“The best chances for Democrats to gain the 15 seats they need to take control of the House in 2006 are in these districts held by ‘Kerry Republicans.’ The problem is that there are so few of them. John Kerry carried just 18 GOP House members’ districts, while Mr. Bush carried 41 Democratic ones.

“Only five Republican House members currently sit in districts where Mr. Bush won less than 47 percent of the presidential vote last year: two in Connecticut, two in Iowa and one in Delaware. But 31 House Democrats represent districts where John Kerry won less than 47 percent. That means Republicans have many more opportunities to pick up seats in favorable political terrain as Democratic members leave the House. No one expects Democrats to hold the seat of Ike Skelton of Missouri when he leaves office; President Bush won 64 percent of his district’s votes. Ditto for the district of Gene Taylor of Mississippi, where Mr. Bush won 68 percent.”

Senate candidate

Former Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse yesterday entered the race for the Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee.

Mr. Whitehouse, 49, made the announcement at his Providence home beside his wife and children less than a week after a fellow Democrat, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, said he would not seek the seat, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Chafee has started raising money for an expected re-election campaign, but has not announced his candidacy. Democratic Secretary of State Matt Brown is the only other person who officially has entered the 2006 race.

Mr. Whitehouse was attorney general from 1999 to 2003. He made a failed bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2002.

As the state’s top law enforcement officer, Mr. Whitehouse targeted former manufacturers of lead paint with a lawsuit claiming they created a public nuisance by making paints that poisoned thousands of children. It ended in a mistrial.

Giuliani’s future

Rudolph W. Giuliani’s top political aide said yesterday it won’t be possible for the former New York City mayor to run for governor or challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s re-election bid next year.

But aide Anthony Carbonetti cautioned: “Rudy is someone who never says never.”

“Right now, with all the commitments he has here … I just see the commitment as too great to undertake any sort of run within the next year,” Mr. Carbonetti told the Associated Press.

Mr. Carbonetti, who was Mr. Giuliani’s chief of staff when Mr. Giuliani was mayor, cited his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, and the recently announced plan to open a New York office of Bracewell & Patterson, a Texas-based law firm. The office is to be named Bracewell & Giuliani.

Targeting Reynolds

Testing themes they may use in the 2006 congressional elections, Democrats and their allies are turning up the heat on Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, New York Republican.

Michael Brady, Mr. Reynolds’ chief of staff, called the targeting of Mr. Reynolds “natural when you consider that he is a House leader and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.”

Labor and other groups looking to use congressional ethics and Social Security as wedge issues against the Republicans want to see how they play out against Mr. Reynolds and hope to influence Republican congressional campaigns across the country, United Press International reports.

One group, the Campaign for America’s Future — which counts Clinton Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich and the Rev. Jesse Jackson among its advisers — has gone so far as to air commercials making an issue out of Mr. Reynolds’ support for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. In the 30-second spot, Mr. Reynolds is called on to repudiate Mr. DeLay, who has been the target of ethics complaints by Democrats.

Cox’s bid

Lawyer Ed Cox, former President Richard Nixon’s son-in-law, is seeking support for a 2006 U.S. Senate race against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mr. Cox, who is married to Nixon daughter Tricia, was “calling around the state last week, telling people he’s ‘the guy’ to challenge” the former first lady, the New York Post said yesterday. Quoting an unnamed Republican insider, the Post reported that Mr. Cox has the backing of New York Gov. George E. Pataki and Joseph Bruno, the state Senate majority leader.

Catholic votes

Democracy Corps, the political-strategy firm headed by James Carville, Stanley Greenberg and Bob Shrum, yesterday issued a strategy memo for Democrats, “Reclaiming the White Catholic Vote.” The memo notes that Republicans increased their share of that voting bloc from 41 percent in 1996 to 56 percent in 2004.

“As the world’s attention is focused on Pope John Paul II,” writes Jim Gerstein, Democracy Corps executive director, in an e-mail announcing the memo, “I thought you may find the survey useful, along with an extensive report by Stan Greenberg and Matt Hogan, who look at the different attitudes among the various blocs of white Catholic voters.”

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

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