- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Bentsen's footsteps
Democratic Rep. Ken Bentsen, a four-term congressman from the Houston area, hopes to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, Lloyd Bentsen, who was first elected to the Senate in 1970 and remained there until 1993, when he became President Clinton's first Treasury secretary.
Mr. Bentsen set up a series of announcements yesterday to kick off his bid to regain for Democrats the seat being vacated by Republican Phil Gramm, who is retiring after three terms.
Mr. Gramm's seat has not been in Democratic hands since 1961, when Lyndon Johnson became vice president and Republican John Tower won the seat.
Mr. Bentsen, 42, is a former investment banker and congressional aide who had been Harris County Democratic chairman for four years when he was first elected to Congress in 1994. He is a senior member of the House Budget Committee and Financial Services Committee, and co-chairman of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus and of the House Cancer Working Group.
Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and Austin physicist Lawrence Cranberg are seeking the Republican nomination for the Senate seat.
Several are vying with Mr. Bentsen on the Democratic side.
Victor Morales, a high school geography teacher who was the surprise primary winner for the Democratic Senate nomination in 1996, already has announced he is running again.
Former state Attorney General Dan Morales and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk have indicated they plan to run in the March 12 Democratic primary. Austin lawyer Ed Cunningham also has said he is running.

Kean says no
Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean has disappointed Republicans by declining to run against Democratic Sen. Robert G. Torricelli next year.
"I know that if you get into a statewide race, you have to want to do it more than anything else, and this time, I couldn't get there," Mr. Kean told the Newark Star-Ledger last week. "That means I wouldn't have been a good candidate for the party."
Republicans "had long viewed Kean as their dream candidate against the embattled Torricelli," Roll Call reports.
"Although Kean's exit could lead another big-name candidate to consider the race, Republicans now appear likely to nominate a lower-profile figure," reporter Chris Cillizza writes.
"Essex County Executive Jim Treffinger and Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin are already in the contest. Treffinger made his candidacy official [last] Tuesday and said he hopes to raise $8 million for his bid.
"Waiting in the wings, meanwhile, are a trio of potential candidates: Rep. Frank LoBiondo; state Assemblyman Guy Gregg, an ally of failed GOP gubernatorial nominee Bret Schundler; and state Sen. Diane Allen, a former television anchorwoman who would be vying to become the state's first female senator.
"Several other Republicans are mentioned as possible candidates, including Mercer County Executive Robert Prunetti, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, Yankee/Nets official Leonard Coleman and Port Authority Chairman Lew Eisenberg."

Criticizing Pataki
The two leading Democratic candidates for governor of New York, facing a Republican incumbent boosted by his performance after the September 11 terrorist attacks, are criticizing Gov. George E. Pataki for not winning more federal funds for the city and the state.
"The governor should be down in Washington pounding on doors and fighting for New York," state Comptroller H. Carl McCall said in a prepared statement. "He should be lobbying his friend, President Bush, to fulfill the promises he made. The governor's silence is anything but golden."
Mr. Bush pledged $20 billion in aid after the attacks, and more than half of that has been spent so far. But the president has resisted efforts by New York members of Congress, including some Republicans, to funnel more federal funds to New York before the first installment has been used up.
The other Democratic candidate in the 2001 race, former federal housing Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo, began his attacks on the governor several weeks ago, the New York Times reports. He is expected to step up his criticism today at a news conference with Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation.
The governor's office dismissed the criticism. "While others play partisan politics, we will continue fighting for New York," said spokeswoman Suzanne Morris.

Left coast crashes
Hollywood is down in the dumps, now that it has become clear that terrorists do not consider Tinseltown important enough to attack, Rob Long writes in the Wall Street Journal.
"'I miss Clinton,' a development executive at a television network said to me last week. 'First off, the guy was always in town. I mean, he must have spent half of his eight years in L.A. Second, he listened. Really listened. I remember back then, we had a sitcom on the air and one of the actresses on it was really concerned about I don't know, air quality or something and she marched right up to him and started talking air-quality policy stuff to him, and he just listened for, like, half an hour.'
"It's true," said Mr. Long, a writer in Hollywood and a contributing editor of National Review. "When Bill Clinton was president, we were more than entertainers and campaign contributors. We were policy-makers and deep thinkers. Our ideas on environmental protection and space exploration were sought after by the White House. Articles were written in important chronicles well, Vanity Fair, but still about the 'New Establishment' and the 'Powerful Media' and guess what? They were talking about us! We were the New Establishment, and we had the president in town to prove it. We slept over in the Lincoln Bedroom and had all-night snack and policy fests in the White House kitchen and got Important Briefings from Important Staffers. It was a glorious time, let me tell you. Even I miss it, and I'm a Republican."
But now, after eight years of Mr. Clinton, "Hollywood is back where it belongs," Mr. Long said. "At the great Thanksgiving dinner of American society, we are back eating at the kids' table. Among the not-so-terrible casualties of September 11, along with Bill Maher's career and Susan Sontag's credibility, we must now add Hollywood's flatulent self-importance."

Gore's future
"The recent announcement that former Vice President Al Gore would join a Los Angeles-based financial services company suggests he probably won't seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004," Richard Benedetto writes at www.usatoday.com.
"He apparently sees the handwriting on the wall and figures the odds against winning the nomination, let alone the election, seem long indeed," Mr. Benedetto said.
"Moreover, being out of the political spotlight for a year following more than a quarter-century of almost nonstop campaigning may have convinced him there is life after politics.
"Those close to Gore insist his taking this job in the financial world should not be read as a signal he has abandoned his dream of the White House. But their denials ring somewhat hollow.
"Two of the top fund-raisers for his political action committee have left to work for congressional candidates running in 2002. The first presidential primaries are a little more than two years off, and time is growing short for putting together a bankroll for a serious run.
"At the same time, the competition for Democratic dollars is sure to be tougher for a 2004 run. The current landscape offered him little chance to build a case against Bush and prepare an effective run. So he chose to retreat into the largely unfamiliar world of high finance. He could come back, but don't bet too heavily on it."


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