- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Losers in Michigan

"Before the fall campaigning begins in earnest, it's worth noting some of the portents from last week's Michigan primary," Thomas J. Bray writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

"There were four big losers: Emily's List, the Sierra Club, the unions and John McCain. But Republicans, who for the past decade have dominated state politics, may have even bigger reason to worry," Mr. Bray said.

"The most obvious fireworks came on the Democratic side of the spectrum. Because Michigan lost a congressional seat as a result of the last census, and Republicans controlled the redistricting process, Rep. John Dingell, who won his seat in a special election in 1955 and has been re-elected 23 times since, was forced into a primary with Rep. Lynn Rivers, a four-term Ann Arbor liberal who had all-out backing from Emily's List (the pro-choice women's lobby), the Sierra Club and a host of other far-left organizations."

Mr. Dingell won easily, 59 percent to 41 percent.

"Liberal interest groups suffered another blow when Rep. David Bonior, formerly the No. 3 Democrat in the House, was thumped in the gubernatorial primary by Attorney General Jennifer Granholm," said Mr. Bray, who noted that Mr. Bonior was heavily supported by the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers.

"The good news for Republicans is that the heir apparent to three-term Gov. John Engler, Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, made a strong showing against his primary opponent, John 'Joe' Schwarz, a highly regarded state senator, physician and former mayor of Battle Creek, who ran the successful McCain primary campaign in Michigan two years ago." But Mr. Posthumus may have a difficult time against his Democratic opponent in November, the columnist said.

McKinney loses edge

Georgia state Judge Denise Majette apparently has passed U.S. Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney in the fund-raising department with just a week to go before the Democratic primary, Roll Call reports.

Until recently, Judge Majette had suffered from "a huge gap in resources," reporters Lauren W. Whittington and Chris Cillizza said.

"The financial mismatch was by far the most striking among House campaigns in the Peach State, although most of the other competitive Aug. 20 primaries in the state are open seat races," the reporters said.

"Majette, who ended June with just $99,000 in the bank, raised $489,000 in July and reported $196,000 in cash on hand at the beginning of August. She also spent almost the same amount as McKinney during the period, doling out $393,000 in the month.

"Since the beginning of August, Majette reported raising another almost $140,000.

"McKinney, meanwhile, raised $79,000 in July and reported $141,000 in her war chest at the end of last month after spending just over $400,000 in July.

"An independent poll conducted late last month showed Majette with a slim lead over the incumbent, reinforcing the results of a poll released by Majette in May."

A spin operation

"So far as I can see, there's nothing much new in Michael Elliott's Time magazine piece on the Clinton-Bush transition and al Qaeda," Andrew Sullivan writes at his Web site (www.andrewsullivan.com).

"After eight years of bungling and negligence, the Clinton administration had finally come up with a batch of proposals to tackle al Qaeda. But it was too late for them to do anything themselves. These proposals were forwarded to Bush officials who incorporated some but ratcheted up others for a plan to 'eliminate' al Qaeda, formulated by September 4. The only relevant issue seems to me to be whether the new administration miscalculated the urgency of such a task. I don't think there's any doubt they did.

"On the other hand, the Clintonites had had eight years to get al Qaeda and had only made the problem worse. So who deserves the most blame an administration that took eight years to do an insufficient amount or an administration that failed to act urgently enough in its first eight months? I'd say both deserve criticism but the Clintonites deserve the largest part, since they were primarily responsible for letting the problem get so dangerous in the first place. It says something about the brilliance of Sandy Berger's spin operation that he was able to get this piece presented the way it has been. And a sign of the currently anti-Bush movement in the media that it has gotten such swift attention."

House 'remodeling'

"Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe is remodeling and expanding a house and doing what every homeowner is warned against: He's paying upfront, down to the wallpaper and faucets, even before the first wall is torn down. The reason is not stupidity but an ingenious, greedy political calculation," the Los Angeles Times says.

"The 'house' is a new Democratic Party headquarters and the funds are unregulated campaign contributions known as soft money, which become illegal Nov. 6, thanks to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush this spring. McAuliffe, who has to spend the money before the deadline, is disbursing $28 million in frenziedly gathered soft money to create a spanking-new 51,000-square-foot Washington headquarters, complete with the latest in TV and radio studios and digital capability," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"It's not that Republicans will be turning away soft money before Nov. 6. But when Democrats are attacking the Bush administration's big-money special interests, it is at least insensitive to, as Fred Wertheimer of the watchdog group Democracy 21 says, 'suck up every $1 million soft-money contribution you can get your hands on.' But McAuliffe, who was on record in favor of the soft-money ban, can't seem to help himself. During the Clinton years, no dollar was left unchased by the man Al Gore called 'the greatest fund-raiser in the history of the universe.'"

War on smokers

"New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is having an identity crisis. This consummate New Yorker is now trying to make his city a little more like California," the Wall Street Journal says.

"Last week Hizzoner fired another salvo in his war on smokers. Earlier this summer a new tax boosted the price of a pack of cigarettes to over $7. Now Mr. Bloomberg has asked the City Council to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars citywide. After all, that's what they do in the Golden State. The plan he's flogging would extend New York's already strict provisions, which would limit smoking in restaurants to those with fewer than 35 seats or to the bar area," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"There's nothing like the zeal of the converted, and the mayor, a reformed smoker, says the real issue is 'workplace safety.' Bartenders and waitresses are involuntarily exposed to secondhand smoke and must be protected.

"OK, we all know smoking isn't good for you. But whatever happened to personal responsibility? Should lassoing every last nicotine junkie really be the first priority of a municipal government? Can't bartenders who fear for their health choose another profession?"

Sharp contrast

New York gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall "never lived in a public-housing project, despite his repeated claims to have done so," the New York Post reports.

Mr. McCall is in the midst of a tough campaign against former federal Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination.

"The records including census and voting reports, title searches, McCall's birth certificate and his parents' marriage license show that the state comptroller grew up in a series of privately owned multifamily homes in what was once a racially mixed, black/Jewish area of the Roxbury section of Boston," Post state editor Fredric U. Dicker writes.

"That contrasts sharply with McCall's rags-to-riches campaign biography, which he regularly trumpets around the state."

A spokesman for Mr. McCall did not dispute the report, but told the newspaper that his boss based the claim on information from his mother, who died in 1961.

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