- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Gentleman on a bike

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan charged up to the state Capitol in Sacramento on a racing bike Monday to dramatize his role as a vigorous potential competitor in next year's gubernatorial campaign, but he refused to criticize Democratic Gov. Gray Davis over energy issues or possible investment improprieties by his aides, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

"It would be very unfair for me to be critical until all the evidence is in," said Mr. Riordan, 71, after being asked by reporters to comment on a rash of recent stories detailing energy investments by several of Mr. Davis' key appointees and aides involved in handling California's response to the energy crunch.

The apparent reluctance of Mr. Riordan — a Republican exploring a run for the state's top executive post — to take shots at Mr. Davis was seized upon by the campaign of Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones, the only formally announced candidate in the 2002 contest for governor, reporter Carla Marinucci writes.

"The mayor came in to challenge [Mr. Davis] to a bicycle race, and he talked about leadership, but on one of the biggest issues, the ethics of the governor's office, he failed to take a position," said Rob Lapsley, Mr. Jones' campaign manager. "That is not leadership."

Two dozen Riordan supporters, carrying Draft Riordan signs, were met by an equal number of Jones supporters carrying signs chiding the former Los Angeles mayor for past generous donations to Democrats and bearing some of Mr. Riordan's own quotes, including, 'I'm surprised I'm not an ultra-liberal communist.'"

Schundler trails

Bret Schundler, the Republican nominee for governor of New Jersey, trails his Democratic rival by 19 percentage points in a new poll.

Democrat Jim McGreevey, the Woodbridge mayor who nearly unseated former Republican Gov. Christie Whitman four years ago, leads Mr. Schundler 49 percent to 30 percent, with 17 percent undecided, in a poll released by Quinnipiac University.

The survey of 1,235 registered voters, conducted July 29 through Aug. 5, had a 2.8 percent margin of error.

The results followed a 48 percent to 35 percent McGreevey lead in a similar poll released July 3, Reuters reports.

The Quinnipiac poll suggested that Mr. McGreevey may be making some headway with the tactic of depicting his rival as too conservative for New Jersey. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said Mr. Schundler is too conservative. On the other hand, 18 percent said Mr. McGreevey was too liberal.

Dole statement

Republicans familiar with North Carolina developments say Elizabeth Dole has had discussions with Sen. Bill Frist, chairman of the Senate GOP campaign committee, about a possible run for the Senate if Jesse Helms retires.

Mrs. Dole, through a spokeswoman, told the Associated Press yesterday: "I have great respect for Jesse Helms. He and Dot (Mr. Helms' wife, Dorothy) have been longtime friends. If he decides not to seek re-election, I would give it serious consideration."

Mr. Helms, 79, is expected to announce in September whether he will seek a sixth term. He has suffered from health problems in recent years, including an ailment that numbs his feet and impairs his balance. He also had knee replacement surgery in 1998.

Other Republicans who have expressed interest in Mr. Helms' seat include Rep. Richard M. Burr, former Sen. Lauch Faircloth, Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot and lawyer Jim Snyder. Two Democrats have announced they are running: state Sen. Eric Reeves and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.

'Hope for improvement'

Brent Baker of the Media Research Center applauds new CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson for meeting with Republicans on Capitol Hill in an apparent attempt to show his network is not hostile to the GOP.

"It is encouraging to hear of a network news boss who acknowledges conservatives don't see his network as balanced and, with both Ted Turner and Clinton buddy Rick Kaplan now gone from CNN, maybe there's real hope for improvement," Mr. Baker writes at mrc.org.

"In many ways CNN only looks liberal when compared to [the Fox News Channel], which showed conservatives what a real alternative network could provide. CNN certainly is less biased to the left than ABC, CBS and NBC, with reporters such as John King being models of fairness compared to John Roberts or Terry Moran," Mr. Baker said.

"But while much of its day-to-day reporting is more balanced than that offered on the broadcast networks, its news judgment usually follows the liberal agenda with conservatives relegated to reacting to it. Join that with prime time stars who are liberals (Larry King and Greta Van Susteren) and its memorable history of liberal advocacy in specials (recall the Lewinsky-era focus on media overkill of the subject, concerns about fairness to Clinton, tirades against Ken Starr for going too far; the Cold War series; the Tailwind fiasco; and presidential campaign year specials on the need for government intervention in health care), and you realize why many conservatives have such a negative image of CNN. Plus, there's the history of global warming fear-mongering fueled by Jane Fonda and Ted Turner's since-disbanded environmental reporting unit.

"A further extrapolation of the perspective in the above paragraph, complete with examples of CNN's bias pulled from the MRC's archives, may be a good August project for us," Mr. Baker said.

Green elephants

A prominent Republican couple helped put Green Party candidates on the ballot in two important elections in Washington state, including one that will decide the balance of power in the state Legislature.

Democrats and Green Party activists claim the couple promoted the Green Party candidates to help Republicans get elected, Reuters reports.

Stan Shore, a longtime Republican strategist, organized a convention and helped pay the filing fee for Young S. Han, 18, to run for a House seat from Snohomish County. Mr. Shore also transferred $250 to Mr. Han's campaign bank account to help him pay the filing fee, Mr. Han said.

Mr. Shore's wife, Leslie Donovan, a former Republican staff member, helped persuade Michael Jepson, a 21-year-old computer-systems operator, to run for King County Council and offered to pay his filing fee, Mr. Jepson said.

The Olympia couple deny they were trying to sabotage the election. They say they were working to help a struggling third party.

Tax revolt

Tennessee lawmakers voted yesterday to override the governor's budget veto as nearly 1,000 income-tax opponents and tax-reform advocates demonstrated outside the Capitol in Nashville.

Gov. Don Sundquist vetoed the $19.6 billion budget last month because it contained no new revenue sources, used four years of Tennessee's tobacco settlement money and made cuts to his spending proposals for education and health care.

Mr. Sundquist expressed his disappointment at the legislature's action, the Associated Press reports, but did not say whether he would call a special session to discuss tax reform as he had threatened.

During the House vote, hundreds of anti-tax demonstrators rang cow bells, blew air horns and waved "no new taxes" signs, while 200 others stood by with black bandanas around their mouths in silent support of tax reform.

The scene was more controlled than on July 12, when hundreds of protesters stormed the Capitol after talk radio hosts reported there was a last-minute attempt to pass an income tax. Tennessee is one of nine states without an income tax.

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