- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Hat in the ring

Former presidential candidate Howard Dean announced his candidacy for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee yesterday, but is keeping his options open about seeking the presidential nomination again in 2008 should he fail to win the DNC post.

Mr. Dean, the front-runner for the 2004 Democratic nomination until his candidacy collapsed after the Iowa caucuses, has said that anyone who holds the four-year party post must be ruled out as a presidential candidate. And yesterday a Dean spokeswoman confirmed that if the former Vermont governor becomes party chairman, “He will not run for president in 2008.”

But if Mr. Dean loses the DNC contest, “He’ll consider other things and everything is on the table,” spokeswoman Laura Gross told reporter Don Lambro of The Washington Times. “Right now, he is focused on the vote for chairman in February.”

In a letter to DNC members formally announcing his candidacy, Mr. Dean said: “The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state. We must be willing to contest every race at every level. We can only win when we show up.”

Unmarked package

Timothy Roemer, a former September 11 commissioner and former Indiana congressman, entered the race for Democratic National Committee chairman only three days ago, “but judging from the pushback he’s generating from other Dems, he’s already a front-runner,” John Mercurio writes in the Morning Grind column at www.cnn.com.

“At least that’s how it seemed [Monday] when the Grind received a mysterious, unmarked package of anti-Roemer research that documents everything from his fear of fund-raising to his support for Bush’s tax cuts,” Mr. Mercurio said.

“So who sent us ‘Tim Roemer’s Record?’ Unclear. Was it Martin Frost, who sees Roemer as his main challenge to becoming the anti-Dean? Frost spokesman Tom Eisenhauer denies it. Was it Simon Rosenberg? Nope, said Gil Meneses, not us. It wasn’t DonnieFowler, either, said Jamal Simmons. Wellington Webb? David Leland? Kate Michelman? What say you?”

Unlikely guest

Conservative Republican consultant Craig Shirley says he has decided to invite centrist Republican Christie Whitman to be his guest at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) next month.

Mrs. Whitman, a former governor of New Jersey and Environmental Protection Agency director under President Bush, says the GOP is too much in the thrall of its evangelical “right wingers” and won’t be able to turn blue states red until it caters more to “moderates” like her.

She makes that case in her new book, “It’s My Party Too.”

“This is exactly the sort of advice you and many of your fellow Northeastern ‘moderates’ have been ladling out for years,” Mr. Shirley says in a letter to Mrs. Whitman. “And when you ran for governor, you won only by listening for once to advice from conservatives in your state party who suggested that perhaps Ronald Reagan had a point.”

At CPAC, Mrs. Whitman “can learn why the GOP now controls the White House, the U.S. Senate and House and most governorships in the country,” Mr. Shirley told reporter Ralph Z. Hallow.

If she takes Mr. Shirley up on his invitation, she’ll hear speakers such as Vice PresidentDick Cheney and former Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, who in his own book argues that Democrats slipped into minority status by leaning left in an essentially conservative America.

Along with the invitation, Mr. Shirley is sending Mrs. Whitman a copy of his forthcoming book about the 1976 Republican presidential nomination contest, “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started it All.”

Threat to Hillary?

“The indictment of Hillary Clinton’s 2000 campaign-finance director, David Rosen, may pose a threat to the senator’s presidential bid,” New York Postcolumnist Dick Morris writes.

“For now, the federal indictment is focused only on Rosen, but it is not hard to see the process creeping up the campaign food chain to the senator herself,” Mr. Morris said.

“At issue are the expenses the campaign incurred in an August 2000 fund-raiser for Hollywood glitterati. Rosen was indicted for claiming that the event cost $400,000 when, federal prosecutors allege, he knew the actual cost to be $1.1 million. Under federal campaign-finance rules, the Clinton campaign was obliged to pay for 40 percent of the cost of the fund-raiser. So, if the gala cost $400,000, the campaign had to pay only $160,000, but if the price tag was actually $1.1 million, the campaign would have been on the hook for $440,000.

“By understating the cost of the party, Rosen was, in effect, giving Hillary’s campaign an extra $280,000.

“While there is no indication that the Senate candidate knew of the understating of the cost of the event, is it credible that she would not be aware of a decision that gave her campaign more than a quarter of a million dollars as it entered the final three months before the election?”

Blunt action

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt began making good on campaign pledges yesterday during his first full day in office, rescinding the collective-bargaining rights of thousands of state workers and ordering agencies to make several cost-cutting policy changes.

Mr. Blunt halted the purchase or lease of new cell phones, office space and non-emergency vehicles. He also closed the state’s office in Washington, D.C., the Associated Press reports.

Those were among the first pledges Mr. Blunt made when he began campaigning for governor nearly a year ago. The 34-year-old Republican was sworn in at noon Monday, becoming the nation’s youngest serving governor and the first Republican governor to take office with a GOP legislature in Missouri in 84 years.

As secretary of state, Mr. Blunt had criticized former Democratic Gov. Bob Holden’s June 2001 executive order granting collective-bargaining rights to thousands of state employees and allowing unions to charge bargaining fees to employees who aren’t union members.

‘Cloud’ over inaugural

The wine has been ordered, the tuxedos have been rented and the menu has been set. But at the state Capitol in Olympia, Wash., there is something of a damper over tonight’s inaugural ball for the state’s new governor, the Associated Press reports.

Democrat Christine Gregoire will take the oath of office knowing that the Republicans are challenging in court the outcome of the excruciatingly close election. Her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, is calling for a do-over election.

Ultimately, the outcome of the dispute over the next few weeks could turn the inaugural ball into an empty exercise.

“The last shoe hasn’t dropped,” said independent pollster Stuart Elway. “You’d have to say there is a cloud hanging over it.”

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

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