- The Washington Times - Friday, August 15, 2008

A judge Thursday dashed embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s brief hope of attending the Democratic National Convention by barring him from leaving Michigan, just hours after another judge had lifted his travel restrictions.

Even if Mr. Kilpatrick, a Democratic superdelegate, is allowed to attend the Denver event, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama would consider his visit a “distraction,” his campaign said.

But the Obama campaign stopped short of saying the mayor shouldn’t go.

“The focus of our convention to people back in Michigan should be on Barack Obama and how the party intends to get America back on track, not a distraction involving the troubles of one individual,” spokesman Brent Colburn said.

Mr. Kilpatrick said in a statement released Thursday afternoon that he was “focused on running the city” and didn’t want to distract from Mr. Obama receiving the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

But Mr. Kilpatrick also declined to say whether he would appeal his travel restrictions so he could attend the convention.

“The focus should remain on uniting the party and leading our great nation in a different direction,” Mr. Kilpatrick said.

Michigan is a major battleground state in the November presidential elections, and most polls show Mr. Obama holding a slim lead over Republican presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Mr. Kilpatrick, 38, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice and official misconduct charges stemming from his handling of a whistleblower lawsuit, which exposed his affair with a former staff member.

He also faces a possible two-year prison term on separate assault charges in which he is accused of pushing a deputy sheriff trying to serve a subpoena on one of the mayor’s friends. The mayor is out on bond in both cases.

Mr. Kilpatrick was jailed for a night last week for violating terms of his bond in the whistleblower case by traveling to the neighboring Canadian city of Windsor in July. His release was conditional on a stiffer bond, confinement to the Detroit area and a requirement to wear an electronic tether.

Michigan Democratic Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm said Thursday she had denied a request she received from Mr. Kilpatrick a day earlier for a pardon. Her legal team says she has no authority to pardon him because he hasn’t been convicted of a crime.

The mayor, the son of Michigan Democrat Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, once was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party but is now under pressure to resign from office.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.