- The Washington Times - Monday, January 25, 2010

COMMERCE

Ex-Commerce chief Mosbacher dies

HOUSTON | Robert Mosbacher Sr., a Houston oil multimillionaire who served as Department of Commerce secretary under his close friend, President George H.W. Bush, died Sunday at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He was 82.

Mr. Mosbacher died after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer, said family spokesman Jim McGrath.

The Texan was a powerful Republican fundraiser who served at the top echelons of Mr. Bush’s presidential campaigns and most recently served as a general campaign chairman for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

As commerce secretary, Mr. Mosbacher helped lay the foundation for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Together we shared a journey that led to the presidency, the mountaintop of American politics, and there we worked together to help America more fully embrace the world around us and compete in the newly emerging global markets that the waning Cold War made accessible,” Mr. Bush said in a statement. “No doubt, he will be remembered as one the most effective commerce secretaries in our nation’s history.”

DELAWARE

Biden says son not eager for Senate

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has told a newspaper that his son, Beau, does not want to run for his former U.S. Senate seat in Delaware, which could damage Democrats’ chances in the 2010 race.

In an exchange reported in the Wilmington News-Journal, Mr. Biden asked a columnist from his hometown newspaper to encourage Beau Biden, Delaware’s state attorney general, to run for the Senate this year.

According to the newspaper, as Mr. Biden ended an interview he had the following exchange with columnist Harry F. Themal:

Mr. Biden: “If you run into Beau, talk him into running; he respects you.”

Mr. Themal: “I don’t think he wants to run, though.”

Mr. Biden: “I don’t think he does either. I know he doesn’t want to … I’m so proud of the job he’s done [as attorney general].”

Beau Biden has been viewed as the Democrats’ best chance to keep the seat his father left to become vice president.

Nine-term Republican Rep. Michael N. Castle, who is considered a moderate in the party, already has announced he would run for the seat, which is currently held by Ted Kaufman, a Democrat who was appointed a year ago.

MASSACHUSETTS

Coakley reflects on Senate loss

BOSTON | Martha Coakley points to the Christmas Day attempt to blow up an airliner and the Senate’s passage of a health care bill as the pivotal moments in her failed U.S. Senate campaign.

The Massachusetts attorney general, a Democrat who once led polls by more than 30 percentage points, said in her first interviews since Tuesday’s election that Republican Scott Brown capitalized on the disquiet those events caused in the public.

She says Mr. Brown caught “an anger and got its fire.”

Mrs. Coakley also disputed accusations that she ran a lackluster campaign. She says her campaign had little money at first and couldn’t start airing television ads until 13 days before the election. She also says she underestimated voter anger at Democrats for not fixing the economy.

She plans to run for re-election as attorney general.

TEXAS

George H.W. Bush endorses Hutchison

HOUSTON | Former President George H.W. Bush has endorsed U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for Texas governor.

Mr. Bush said in Houston that he supports Mrs. Hutchison over Gov. Rick Perry in the March 2 primary because she’s an effective leader with the right vision and values to lead the state.

Mr. Perry was lieutenant governor when then-Gov. George W. Bush was elected president in 2000. The younger Mr. Bush resigned, making Mr. Perry Texas governor. He is seeking a third full term in his own right.

The elder Mr. Bush, who campaigned for Mr. Perry when he ran for lieutenant governor, says he has nothing against Mr. Perry but he feels closer to Mrs. Hutchison and thinks she can do the job.

ARKANSAS

Berry to retire from U.S. House

LITTLE ROCK | Arkansas Democratic Rep. Marion Berry plans to announce Monday that he won’t seek re-election this fall, two people have told the Associated Press.

Two people who had spoken with Mr. Berry on Sunday said the congressman planned to announce his decision Monday. The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of Mr. Berry, who has represented the 1st Congressional District in eastern Arkansas since 1997.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Berry did not immediately return a call Sunday night.

Mr. Berry, 67, was first elected to his congressional seat after serving in the Clinton administration as a special assistant to the president for agricultural trade and food assistance.

In 2008, he was re-elected without opposition. This year, he faced opposition from Republican Rick Crawford, who owns a regional agricultural radio network.

Mr. Berry would be the second Arkansas congressman to announce he was retiring. Earlier this month, Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder announced he would not seek an eighth term representing the 2nd Congressional District in central Arkansas.

CAMPAIGNS

McCain gives up on campaign finance

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, says the movement he led to reform how political campaigns are financed is dead.

Mr. McCain says on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” program that the Supreme Court has spoken on the constitutionality of political contributions by corporations. The Arizona Republican had sought to regulate them with a landmark campaign finance law he wrote with Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat.

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that corporations may spend as freely as they like to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress.

Mr. McCain says there’s not much that can be done about campaign financing now. Still, he predicts a backlash over time from voters once they see the amount of money that corporations and unions pour into political campaigns.

LABOR STATISTICS

Union workers now mostly government

More union members now work for the government than for private employers, partly because of layoffs caused by the recession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says union membership in the private sector plummeted by 10 percent last year.

Overall union membership declined by 771,000 workers last year to 15.3 million. The membership rate fell to 12.3 percent of all workers in 2009 from 12.4 percent the previous year. The drop was offset slightly by a gain of 64,000 members in local, state and federal government. Those workers now make up 51.5 percent of all union members.

Union membership has declined steadily since its peak of about 35 percent of workers in the 1950s, and the recession quickened the pace.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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