- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2007

The conservative advocacy group Family Foundation gave 35 Virginia House of Delegates members perfect scores for votes the past two years on social and taxation issues, while only two of 40 state senators received perfect marks.

The organization’s biennial scorecard was released Wednesday.

While neither the nonprofit Family Foundation nor its sister organization, Family Foundation Action, endorses candidates or parties, other conservative groups and political organizations await the rankings, particularly in a year like 2007 when all 140 legislative seats are up for election.

“This is a key year,” Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb said at a Capitol Square press conference in Richmond.

While Democrats sense an opportunity to gain four Senate seats and take the majority there for the first time since 1995, conservatives are hoping for a more conservative Republican Senate because of the retirement of three senior centrist Republicans.

Although she did not mention him by name, Miss Cobb noted that one retiring senator is Republican H. Russell Potts Jr. of Winchester. Mr. Potts is chairman of the Education and Health Committee, where many socially conservative issues have failed over the years.

Senators and delegates were ranked separately on 20 bills the Family Foundation targeted as part of its agenda during the 2006 and 2007 legislative sessions.

The only senators who rated a 100 score were Republicans Stephen H. Martin of Chesterfield and Stephen D. Newman of Lynchburg. One senator, Mamie E. Locke, Hampton Democrat, scored a zero.

In the House, only one Democrat, Delegate Joseph P. Johnson Jr., had a perfect score. Four delegates, all Democrats, rated a zero.

Primary concern

On June 12, voters in Virginia’s 27th District will choose between two Republican candidates hoping to replace Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. in the state Senate, though one has a little bit more to worry about than the other.

On Tuesday, a Loudoun County grand jury indicted Mark Tate on nine counts of perjury and two counts of election fraud.

In an interview with the Associated Press a day before the indictments were announced, Mr. Tate acknowledged that he had spoken to investigators and suggested that his opponent, Jill Holtzman Vogel, had instigated the whole thing.

Mrs. Vogel and Mr. Tate are running in a strongly conservative region of the state in a pivotal state legislative election year in which resurgent Democrats are hoping to undo the Republicans four-seat Senate majority.

Mr. Potts, who infuriated the Republicans dominant conservative wing with his decision to run for governor as an independent two years ago, chose not to seek a fifth four-year term. Republicans said Mr. Potts maverick candidacy diluted support for the partys 2005 nominee, Jerry W. Kilgore, who lost to Timothy M. Kaine.

In 2003, Mr. Potts was among three centrist Republicans who survived bitter challenges for their Senate seat from anti-tax Republicans, but Mr. Potts beat Mr. Tate by the closest margin only 104 votes out of 14,884 cast.

The upper Shenandoah Valley district takes in Winchester, the counties of Frederick and Clarke and parts of Loudoun and Fauquier.

The Republican nominee will face Democrat Karen Schultz in the November election, when all 40 state Senate seats and all 100 House of Delegates seats are up for grabs.

Retiring adviser

William H. Leighty, a top adviser to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and his predecessor, announced last week that he will retire after 29 years in state government.

Mr. Leighty, 53, had planned to retire at the end of Gov. Mark Warner’s term in January 2006, but Mr. Kaine asked him to stay. He announced his departure to the governor’s staff Wednesday afternoon.

Deputy Chief of Staff Wayne Turnage will succeed Mr. Leighty.

“I woke up one morning and realized that the roles of chief of staff and Bill Leighty had merged, and I wanted to be Bill Leighty again,” he said by phone after a sometimes emotional address to the staff.

‘Mayor for a Day’

For a day anyway, Rockville had a new mayor last week. And a very young mayor at that.

On Friday, Kelsey Kovacs was the chosen “Mayor for a Day.” The fourth-grader at Meadow Hall Elementary School won the “If I Were a Mayor, I Would ” essay contest sponsored by the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Mayors’ Association.

As part of her duties, Kelsey was to tour City Hall and other city facilities, have lunch with Mayor Larry Giammo and ride along with a Rockville police officer.

Kelsey’s winning essay was chosen from more than 250 entries from fourth-graders.

“Municipal government does things to make the city safe, clean and peaceful,” she wrote. “As a result of being mayor, I would involve students in quality community service projects and get them to see the Mayor and their Municipal government in ACTION!”

Cheerleading

Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani aimed to raise $250,000 Wednesday night at a fundraiser in Cape St. Claire, Md., but first he took in a Little League game played by 6- to 8-year-olds.

“Number 2! Let’s go, Number 2!” the former New York mayor cheered as he watched the Raptors take a 1-0 lead over the Sand Gnats.

Mr. Giuliani, wearing a white shirt, light-blue tie and dark slacks, visited the game played by 7-year-old Drew Ehrlich, a right fielder and a son of former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Mr. Ehrlich, who was defeated in his gubernatorial re-election bid last year, is now Mr. Giuliani’s Mid-Atlantic regional campaign chairman.

Mr. Ehrlich watched the game for about half an hour, standing behind the home-plate fence and cheering on the Raptors. After a base hit, Mr. Giuliani turned to a reporter and said, “I told you as soon as he got up there, that kid was going to get a hit.”

Asked later how fundraising is going, Mr. Giuliani said, “We’re very, very fortunate. It’s really a marathon.”

Mr. Ehrlich told reporters that Mr. Giuliani was due to appear later Wednesday at a fundraiser at a private waterfront home nearby, with a goal of raising $250,000.

Mr. Ehrlich said Mr. Giuliani had some down time before the fundraiser and agreed to attend Drew’s game.

“I guess he couldn’t find quality baseball in New York,” Mr. Ehrlich joked with other parents, some of whom asked for autographs or pictures with the former mayor. The two took a few questions from reporters and left in the second inning.

Familiar challenger

Former Cumberland, Md., Mayor Frank Nethken last week announced his candidacy for the 6th Congressional District seat held by Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett.

Mr. Nethken, a Republican, would face Mr. Bartlett in the Feb. 12 primary.

Mr. Bartlett, who turns 80 on Sunday, said in December that he plans to seek a ninth term representing the district, which covers Allegany, Garrett, Washington, Carroll and Frederick counties and portions of Baltimore, Harford and Montgomery counties.

Mr. Nethken, 76, made the announcement Wednesday on the steps of Cumberland City Hall, where he served as mayor from 1978 to 1982. Since then, he has made numerous failed bids for public office, including mayor, City Council and Allegany County commissioner. He ran twice for the House of Representatives.

In a 10-minute speech, Mr. Nethken, said he opposes abortion and illegal immigration and supports Social Security reform. He also said he would work to reinstitute the military draft.

This column is based in part on wire service reports.

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