- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2006

Pelosi’s ‘hours’

“Here’s a question: When House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi talks about what Democrats plan to accomplish in the first 100 hours when Congress convenes in January, does she mean 100 consecutive hours, as in, say, from a Monday at 10 a.m. until Friday at 2 p.m., or does she mean something else?” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www. nationalreview.com).

“The answer is something else. Pelosi plans to enact the Democrats’ ‘Six for ‘06’ agenda in 100 legislative hours — not real hours. And a legislative hour is not just any hour that the House is open for business. ‘It’s when the House convenes, after the one-minutes and before the special orders,’ says Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly, referring to the times of day when members of Congress will sometimes drone on about any issue that comes to mind. At that pace, Daly says, the first 100 hours ‘could take a couple of weeks.’

“Or maybe longer. ‘We don’t really have a term legislative hours,’ says a top Republican House aide. Depending how that is defined, ‘it could last for several weeks.’ ”

Dean’s pitch

Democrats face a challenge defending their gains in the 2006 midterm elections because “now it’s what we do and not what we say,” national committee Chairman Howard Dean told party leaders Saturday.

Mr. Dean told members of the Democratic Party’s executive committee meeting Washington: “Governing is more difficult than campaigning” — noting the big job the Democrats will face when they take control of Congress in January.

Also on Saturday, a Democratic National Committee rules panel gave preliminary approval to a plan to give bonus delegates to states that hold their presidential contests in April 2008 or later. That plan is intended to discourage states from jamming up the early weeks of presidential voting by moving their contests up.

Mr. Dean said Democrats must prove to people in conservative and swing districts that they can earn the voters’ trust, the Associated Press reports.

“Elections are not mandates. Elections are power being loaned to politicians for a two-year period by the voters of this country,” Mr. Dean said. “Now it’s our job to earn it back again in ‘08.”

Case settled

State and national Republicans will pay $135,000 to settle a suit involving a scheme to jam Democratic get-out-the-vote calls in New Hampshire on Election Day 2002, officials said Saturday.

“Although we believed our case was very strong, the cost of the trial as well as expected appeals by the New Hampshire Democratic Party would have easily matched or exceeded the present value of the settlement,” state Republican Chairman Wayne Semprini said.

Republicans had hired a telemarketing firm to place hundreds of hang-up calls to phone banks for the Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters union, a nonpartisan group offering rides to the polls. Service was disrupted for nearly two hours.

Democrats had wanted more than $4 million in damages — the cost of seven months’ work for the get-out-the-vote effort. Republicans maintained that they should only have had to pay about $4,000 — the cost of rental and use of the phones.

Mr. Semprini said the Republican State Committee deplored the phone-jamming incident and does not endorse illegal or improper election tactics.

The state party will pay $125,000 over five years, the Associated Press reports. The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee will pay $5,000 each. Half of that money will go to a charitable organization benefiting Manchester firefighters, and half to a group that supports police officers, who investigated the case.

Nervous capital

Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is feeling jittery because Gov.-elect Sarah Palin announced that she would buck an unbroken tradition and take the oath of office elsewhere.

She will be sworn in today in Fairbanks, more than 600 miles north of Juneau, the nation’s most inaccessible state capital.

Mrs. Palin, Alaska’s first female governor and at 42 the youngest to hold the office, said she chose Fairbanks to mark the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the Alaska Constitution, which was drafted in Fairbanks three years before statehood in 1959.

Her gesture, however, sent a shiver of anxiety through Alaska’s southeastern region, the Associated Press reports.

“Juneau, beware; it’s the first step,” warned an editorial in the Ketchikan Daily News, giving voice to a nagging fear that Mrs. Palin’s real agenda is to move the capital from Juneau, population 31,000.

Those who want to move the seat of government often complain that Juneau is too far from Alaska’s population centers and reachable only by plane or boat.

Lawmakers must drive several hundred miles through interior Alaska and Canada to catch a ferry to Juneau. Those flying in are sometimes diverted as far as Seattle because of Juneau’s cloudy and windy weather.

Almost since statehood, Juneau has fended off repeated attempts to move the seat of government to more northern and populated areas of the state.

Still complaining

“Democrats whomped Republicans in last month’s midterms, but oddly enough they’re still calling in the legal cavalry to contest one of the few races they narrowly lost,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“That would be Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which runs along the Gulf Coast from just south of Tampa to just north of Fort Myers. The certified winner is Republican Vern Buchanan, who beat Democrat Christine Jennings by fewer than 400 votes out of more than 237,000 cast. Two recounts, which were demanded by Democrats and required by law, have reconfirmed Mr. Buchanan’s victory and slightly increased the margin,” the newspaper said.

“Unbowed, the Dems are now suggesting that defective voting machines cost them the race. They point to Sarasota County’s 18,000 ‘undervotes,’ or incidences where voters cast ballots in other races but not the Buchanan-Jennings contest. Ms. Jennings — along with such liberal partisans as People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union — has filed a lawsuit contesting the results based on ‘statistical and eyewitness evidence of significant machine malfunctions’ in Sarasota’s iVotronic touch-screen system.

“They want a court to declare Ms. Jennings the winner by — get this — using statistical models to extrapolate that she would have received most of the undervotes. Short of that, they’ll settle for nullifying the November results and holding a new election. But among the many things that are strange here is that if anyone ought to be complaining about undervotes, it’s the GOP. Sarasota is the largest and most Republican county in the district, yet the Democrat, Ms. Jennings, carried it handily. In fact, it’s the only county in the district that she did carry, which makes it more likely that it was Republicans who declined to vote in the Congressional race, not Democrats.”

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

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