- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

Please retire, Gary

County Democratic leaders who have long remained silent on the political future of Rep. Gary A. Condit are now urging him to retire. Democratic committee leaders in two counties in his congressional district say they want him to step aside.

Mr. Condit, a congressman since 1989, has opened a campaign office and has begun gathering signatures needed to start a campaign, but has not announced whether he plans to run next year. The filing deadline is Dec. 7.

Robert Haden, chairman of the Merced County Democratic Central Committee, said he wrote to Mr. Condit after learning he was collecting signatures, the Associated Press reports.

"I assumed that he realized his ability to be re-elected and to continue his political career had ended or at least was seriously jeopardized," Mr. Haden said.

Marcelino Martinez, chairman of San Joaquin County Democrats, also said his committee hopes Mr. Condit withdraws.

The California Democrat's popularity plunged after Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old former federal intern, disappeared in Washington, and her relationship with the 53-year-old married congressman was disclosed.

Out and about

Vice President Richard B. Cheney last night made his first public appearance outside the White House since the United States began attacking terrorist bases in Afghanistan.

Mr. Cheney was at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington to introduce Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at an awards ceremony for the Centre for New Black Leadership.

Alluding to a "Saturday Night Live" sketch that poked fun at his public absence, Mr. Cheney joked that he had been spending a lot of time at his "secure location."

McGreevey leads

Democrat Jim McGreevey holds a 10-point lead over Republican Bret Schundler among likely voters in the New Jersey governor's race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday.

Forty-nine percent of likely voters favor Mr. McGreevey, the mayor of Woodbridge, while 39 percent support Mr. Schundler, a former Jersey City mayor. Among registered voters, Mr. McGreevey was favored over Mr. Schundler, 49 percent to 35 percent, the Associated Press reports.

"In a heavy vote, Mayor McGreevey looks like the winner," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But if the Democrat's cautious campaign fails to motivate supporters, Schundler's committed following could make a difference."

The telephone poll of 1,140 registered voters was conducted Oct. 10-15. It had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. When the pool was narrowed to 742 likely voters, the margin of error increased to four percentage points.

Farrakhan seeks proof

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan says President Bush should make public the evidence that Osama bin Laden was involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"Don't hide behind national security," Mr. Farrakhan said Tuesday night in a Chicago speech marking the sixth anniversary of the Million Man March. "The nation would be more secure if you give the American people a reason to fight."

Mr. Farrakhan said it is not enough for America and its allies to say they have proof that bin Laden and his al Qaeda network were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Associated Press reports.

"They have lied before and there's no guarantee they are not lying now," he said of the government. "There's nothing wrong with asking the American government to show us the proof."

The British government has released a dossier of evidence connecting bin Laden to the attacks, but the United States has refused to make its own display of evidence on the grounds that it could compromise its intelligence sources. Mr. Farrakhan had previously condemned the "wild beasts" who carried out the terrorist attacks and agreed with government leaders that a strong response was warranted.

Berkeley's 'tolerance'

"Berkeley, Calif., that most tolerant city, has found something new to tolerate: the murder of 6,000 Americans by fanatical terrorists," Sheri Annis writes at the National Review Web site (www.nationalreview.com).

"A majority of the Berkeley city council Tuesday night urged approval of a recommendation to 'send letters to our elected national representatives asking them to take whatever action they can to cease the bombing of Afghanistan and to seek a legal, non-military resolution.' Furthermore, it seeks to adjourn the council meeting 'in memory of the innocent civilians in Afghanistan being harmed and made refugees due to the bombing.'

"Who elects these people, anyway?" asked the writer, who is a Los Angeles-based political and media consultant. "Having lived in both Northern and Southern California, I used to wonder which city's governance, Berkeley or Santa Monica, is most out of touch with the rest of the nation.

"Berkeley got back in the race-to-the-bottom last month, when its city manager forced the local firefighters to remove American flags from their firetrucks. An antiwar rally had been scheduled, and the city manager felt that the flags might make protesters uncomfortable and therefore spark violence. The logic was that the 'peace' protesters could become violent if made to look at the American flag. (The policy has since been rescinded.)"

Election roundup

Republican candidate Jeff Miller easily won the vacant U.S. House seat in northwest Florida in a special election on Tuesday, election officials said yesterday.

Mr. Miller, 42, replaces Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough, who resigned earlier this year. He was scheduled to be sworn in today in Washington. Mr. Miller, a former state legislator, won 66 percent of the ballots cast.

Steve Briese, a financial writer who switched from Republican to Democrat shortly before the election, won 28 percent of the votes, and podiatrist John Ralls Jr., who ran with no party affiliation, won 6 percent.

The congressional district in the Florida Panhandle is strongly Republican and heavily military. Mr. Miller said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, had promised to consider him for an opening on the Armed Services Committee, the Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Democratic state Sen. Stephen Lynch defeated Republican state Sen. Jo Ann Sprague for the U.S. House seat left vacant by the death of Democratic Rep. Joe Moakley.

In Arkansas, John Boozman, an optometrist, defeated state Sen. Gunner DeLay for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House seat recently vacated by Republican Asa Hutchinson. State Rep. Mike Hathorn beat state Rep. Jo Carson for the Democratic nomination. The winners and candidates from the Green and Freedom parties will vie in a Nov. 20 special election to replace Mr. Hutchinson, who resigned to head the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

A new reality

"Before the Sept. 11 attack, President Bush surely would have faced an unfriendly welcome in Sacramento," Bill Whalen wrote yesterday, hours before Mr. Bush's visit to the city.

"Gov. Gray Davis' spin machine would have been out in full force, linking Bush to the state's energy problems and an economy that has underperformed. The press would have duly noted that California's governor, should he be re-elected, would be a formidable challenger to a president, who barely scraped by last November," Mr. Whalen said in a column in the Los Angeles Times.

"Here's the reality, post-Sept. 11: Bush, now riding high in the polls as he leads the counterattack on terrorism, not only is sure of getting a warm reception from Californians but will find a cooperative governor to boot."

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