- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2000

Capture the flag

Georgia Democratic leaders fear that a debate over the state flag which contains the Confederate battle flag could cost the party seats in the General Assembly, the Atlanta Constitution reports.
"So while Georgia looms as the next battleground over the continuing use of the Confederacy's most enduring symbol, Democrats are delaying any movement toward changing the flag until after November's legislative elections. Initiating action before the elections, Democrats said, would all but ensure Republican gains in the state House and Senate."

Judges targeted

"It may be a lot to ask: persuading the public to pay attention to races other than Gore vs. Bush or Hillary vs. Rudy. Already this election season is too much with us. But voters ignore other contests, many of which are extraordinarily important, at their peril," writes Abigail Thernstrom, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
"In Michigan, for instance, three conservative members of the state's Supreme Court Clifford Taylor, Robert Young and Stephen Markman are up for election.
"All three were appointed by Gov. John Engler to finish out the terms of justices who had resigned; now they must run on their own. For the first time in more than 40 years, Republicans are the majority on this seven-member court and they are an unusually thoughtful, sophisticated and articulate group. Can it be any surprise that the trial lawyers are determined to defeat them?" Mrs. Thernstrom asks in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
"In particular, the three judges believe in leaving policy-making to the representative branches of government and eschewing the creation of novel rights. With its traditional view of the judicial role, probably no court in the country has been less inclined to respond favorably to innovative theories allowing violent criminals to escape responsibility for their actions."

Frequent fliers

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, flies frequently on aircraft belonging to various private companies with issues before Congress, writing checks totaling $101,029 for corporate flights since Jan. 1, 1995, more than any other senator up for re-election this fall, a new study shows.
In second place was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, whose campaign spent $18,730 on corporate flights, according to the Campaign Study Group, a nonpartisan consulting firm that analyzes campaign spending. Sen. John Ashcroft, Missouri Republican, was third with $17,757, the Associated Press reports.
Many senators take advantage of a practice in which they use corporate jets and then reimburse the companies for the price of a first-class flight, far below the going rate for chartering a private jet. The money comes from the senators' campaign accounts.
The practice has advantages for both: Lawmakers do not have to worry about airline schedules or making connections, while companies providing the planes often have a lobbyist aboard to schmooze with the lawmaker.

King of the Hill

Republicans have surrendered in their effort to knock out first-term Rep. Baron P. Hill, Indiana Democrat, the Associated Press reports.
"This is a not a targeted race we're now looking at for the fall," said Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for the GOP campaign committee. As if to underscore the point, the GOP issued a written statement that spoke enthusiastically of its chances for victory in other Indiana contests. It omitted mention of Mr. Hill's seat.
The GOP long had targeted Mr. Hill as a potential victim, but congressional party leaders' hopes soured when Kevin Kellems, a former aide to Sen. Richard G. Lugar, lost the nomination. Some GOP strategists view the winner in the primary, Michael Bailey, as too much a one-note candidate to defeat Mr. Hill. Mr. Bailey is a longtime anti-abortion crusader.

Primary day

Two top Republican officials in Nebraska are battling it out in today's primary for a chance to fill the seat being vacated by the only Democrat in the state's congressional delegation Sen. Bob Kerrey.
Attorney General Don Stenberg and Secretary of State Scott Moore are expected to lead the Republican primary race, which is now down to four candidates after two deep-pockets contenders stopped campaigning.
The winner is likely to take on former Gov. Ben Nelson, who left office in 1999 with an 80 percent approval rating after two terms. He faced token opposition in the Democratic primary.
In West Virginia, Republican Gov. Cecil Underwood faces a painting contractor, a housewife and an unemployed construction worker in the GOP primary. Mr. Underwood, 77, was so confident that he did not campaign and planned to spend election night watching a minor-league baseball game, the Associated Press reports.
The more dramatic West Virginia race was for the House seat being left by Rep. Bob Wise, who is running in the Democratic primary to challenge Mr. Underwood.
Four Democrats are vying for the seat Mr. Wise has held since 1982 including Secretary of State Ken Hechler, an 85-year-old former congressman whose political career dates back to the New Deal. He faces popular state Sen. Martha Walker, Harrison County Commissioner Beth Taylor and lawyer Jim Humphreys, who spent $3 million of his own money and leads in the polls.
The winner will take on Republican Shelley Moore Capito, a member of the state House of Delegates and the daughter of former Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr.

Clinton's retirement

Sitting aboard Air Force One, wearing a flight jacket with his signature stitched on it, President Clinton mused about his life after the White House and said he has not decided how he will earn his living.
Mr. Clinton did not want to dwell on questions about what he thinks his legacy will be, Reuters reporter Steve Holland reports.
"I'm still working on my legacy," he told reporters on the flight home from Arkansas on Sunday night.
Once out of office, Mr. Clinton said, he plans to spend much time getting his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., started and spend the weekends with Mrs. Clinton at their house in Chappaqua, N.Y.
The library will have a penthouse apartment for his living quarters like those of former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush. But until that is finished, he plans to live with his mother-in-law for a couple of years in her Little Rock condominium.

'Get a dog'

There is no more suspense about who occupies the other side of the White House bed when first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is in New York.

Buddy the dog.

President Clinton made the revelation about his playful chocolate Labrador retriever yesterday on the South Lawn of the White House.

"He sleeps with me when Hillary's not here," Mr. Clinton told reporters who met him when he returned from Cardinal John O'Connor's funeral in New York.

Buddy, his ears flopping, bounded out to meet his master at the presidential helicopter. While watching Mr. Clinton and Buddy play fetch with a yellow tennis ball, a reporter asked the president if he knew the old saying: If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

"I got a friend," the president said, grinning widely. "He sleeps with me when Hillary's not here. He's my true friend. We have a great time."

Perot may snub party

Reform Party founder Ross Perot is not expected to address the party's August convention, where Pat Buchanan is likely to become the party's nominee for president, officials close to the event said yesterday.

"He has a very tight travel schedule for business this summer and no definite plans have been made one way or the other with respect to appearing at the convention," Mr. Perot's top lieutenant, Russell Verney, told the Associated Press.

Senior party officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Perot has indicated he will not attend the convention or speak in support of the nominee. His absence could further demoralize a party riven by fierce infighting for more than a year.

Mr. Buchanan's campaign manager and sister, Bay, said they would welcome Mr. Perot at the convention.

"[Mr. Perot] has decided throughout this process to remain neutral, and we respect that," Miss Buchanan said. "If he chooses to attend the convention and speak, we will be thrilled, and if he chooses not to, we'll respect that decision, too."

The Texas billionaire never warmed to Mr. Buchanan, snubbing his request for a telephone conversation after Mr. Buchanan bolted the Republican Party last year. Mr. Buchanan has since clashed with Perot forces in several states over everything from his pursuit of delegates to positions on social issues.

Meanwhile yesterday, Mr. Buchanan turned in an estimated 129,000 signatures more than twice the required amount to officials in Mr. Perot's home state to secure his place as an independent on the Texas ballot.

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