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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 2, 2010

REAGAN/BROWN EFFECT

Adam Andrzejewski is not a household name. Yet.

He is facing stiff competition on Tuesday in the Illinois gubernatorial primary, one of six Republicans seeking the nomination. But Mr. Andrzejewski could have a sudden edge: He is buoyed support from regional "tea party" groups, who praise his "solid, core-conservative values."

Some last-minute, hearty endorsements have also ramped up the political currency of the 40-year-old businessman, who hasn't run for office before.

The candidate has garnered enthusiastic support from Lech Walesa, the former president of Poland, who declared, "I see in him a young Ronald Reagan."

Mr. Walesa journeyed all the way to Chicago to make his feelings known, telling a cheering crowd in Polish, via a translator, "I am convinced that he is right. But we live in times that people do not always listen to those that are right. And I only support a real victor. I like to win."

Fox News host Glenn Beck has also endorsed Mr. Andrzejewski, along with Rush Limbaugh - who gave him some immediate context.

"He is the Scott Brown of Illinois," Mr. Limbaugh said Monday.

One poll found that Mr. Andrzejewski's favorability rating jumped six points in the last week, landing him within grappling distance of the nomination with front-runner Andy McKenna.

"It has been amazing to gain the confidence of national - and international - leaders," Brian McDaniel, the candidate's spokesman, tells Inside the Beltway.

"We have been campaigning on the same message for 11 months. We are hearing what these voters are saying, and that is to put a stop to one-party rule. We are bringing a message of reform to the state of Illinois, and we are tired of the way the Springfield Democrats have been running things," Mr. McDaniel adds. "We intend to bring an end to the culture of corruption that has been in place in this state for 30 years."

PARTLY CLOUDY

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) may not be into transparency. Competitive Enterprise Institute policy analyst William Yeatman tells Inside the Beltway he encountered a little bad weather during a "green jobs" hearing last Thursday.

"I go to a lot of congressional hearings, to observe but also to inform reporters, usually by distributing press releases. This latter practice is standard for D.C. wonks. Or at least it was. As I started to pass out press releases at the media table, two Democratic staffers told me that I no longer have the right to inform reporters, thanks to a 'new policy.' " Mr. Yeatman says.

"I wondered whether or not this 'new policy' had something to do with the fact that my press releases were critical of green jobs, a priority for the Democratic Party. So I followed up with the Republican office, but staffers there hadn't been informed of the 'new policy.' They sought a clarification with the majority party's staff, and thus I learned that the 'new policy' prohibited 'stacks' of paper at the press table," he continues.

"But I wasn't leaving 'stacks' of paper. I was distributing press releases to reporters, something I've done for years without incident. When pressed, the EPW Democratic staff conceded that it is still permissible to hand out information directly to reporters, which means I was hassled by staffers operating outside the rulebook," Mr. Yeatman says.

"When Democrats won control of Congress in 2006, party leaders promised unprecedented openness. Clearly, some elements of the EPW majority-party staff failed to get the message."

FAT CHANCE

Chubby kids are drawing the attention of some heavy hitters. First lady Michelle Obama meets Tuesday with three Cabinet members and a half-dozen lawmakers to craft her nationwide childhood anti-obesity initiative, to be unveiled Feb. 9.

"They will discuss combined efforts to create national awareness of the dangers of childhood obesity and the simple steps families, schools, the business and nonprofit communities and all levels of government can take together to solve it," the White House says.

The meeting includes Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Tom Harkin of Iowa, along with Democratic Reps. George Miller of California and Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota.

Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Enzi of Wyoming also will attend.

Incidentally, the White House says, anti-obesity group will meet in an ironic place: The Old Family Dining Room.

THE PEOPLE SPEAK

The proverbial wisdom of the people is alive and well, and living in Southern Maryland, perhaps. Former Charles County Republican Party Chairman Charles Lollar is intent on unseating House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer this fall, and stays in close touch with voters when he seeks a reality check on politics.

"The constituents in Charles, St. Mary's and Prince George's counties are my plumb lines," Mr. Lollar tells Inside the Beltway. "Many in Southern Maryland say they weren't much moved by President Obama's State of the Union address. Yes, they liked the eloquence of it, but they're also saying it sounds like the same speeches he was giving a year ago."

Mr. Lollar continues, "And now the president says the new focus is on 'jobs,' and Mr. Hoyer is saying its all about 'jobs' something the people around here - and across the country - have been asking about for the last 12 months, from Day One. It's encouraging for me to note that these constituents are not as hoodwinked by the White House as Mr. Hoyer wishes they were. People are pretty fired up about this and other basic economic issues. And they have a message for the White House, and for Steny Hoyer. Maybe the 'tea party' is onto something."

POLL DU JOUR

• 50 percent of Americans are "especially looking forward" to the 2010 midterm elections.

• 60 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of Democrats are looking forward to the midterms.

• 53 percent of men and 47 percent of women are also anticipating them.

• 61 percent of Americans are looking forward to the Winter Olympics.

• 58 percent look forward to the Super Bowl.

• 31 percent look forward to the Academy Awards.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 1,504 adults conducted Jan 6 to 10.

Hot air and trial balloons to jharper@washingtontimes.com.