- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Fewer House women?

"More women are expected to move into statehouses as governors after this fall's elections, but the prospects for significantly increasing women's representation in Congress are dim," USA Today reporter Susan Page writes.

"A decade after 'the year of the woman' brought dramatic gains, the number of women in the House of Representatives may even decline next year," the reporter said.

"'There was an expectation after 1992 that, 10 years later and in another redistricting year, there would be another opportunity for a surge of women candidates,' says Amy Walter, who tracks House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. 'That just didn't happen.'

"Instead, just 37 House members are retiring and only a few dozen House races are seen as competitive. That doesn't create many openings for women or other newcomers to make inroads. And some female incumbents are likely to leave, voluntarily or not."

Florida contest

When the lights and cameras go on tonight at the Palm Beach Community College Eissey Campus Theatre, it will be the first time many Florida voters will see and hear what the Democratic candidates for governor have to say about themselves and the issues, Cox News Service reports.

Janet Reno, Bill McBride and Daryl Jones will gather onstage in Palm Beach Gardens in the only statewide television debate before the Sept. 10 primary, hoping for that elusive defining moment that will lead toward winning the Democratic nomination for governor.

Even for Miss Reno, many viewers will be getting a first impression. Most know her from her years as Dade County state attorney and attorney general in the Clinton administration, but few of Florida's 3.6 million Democratic voters have heard her speak about the issues in this election.

Polls taken this summer have showed Miss Reno well ahead of Mr. McBride, with Mr. Jones, a state senator from Miami, barely registering with voters.

But Mr. McBride, a Tampa lawyer in his first political race, appears to be closing the gap. He is the only candidate with political commercials on the air, due in large part to ads produced by the Florida Education Association endorsing him.

With Mr. McBride closing in on Miss Reno, the debate may be his best chance to finally build the momentum needed to overtake her. The odds are still long, but even Republican Gov. Jeb Bush's campaign believes Mr. McBride has a chance of pulling it off.

The Bush camp has even gone as far as running anti-McBride ads hoping to help defeat him in the primary. Mr. Bush is convinced he would have an easier chance of defeating Miss Reno in the November election.

'The debate is over'

"I wanted to call your attention to the highly significant speech delivered today to the Veterans of Foreign Wars by Vice President Dick Cheney," William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, wrote yesterday at the magazine's Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).

"The vice president lays out more comprehensively and forcefully than any senior administration official has so far the need for regime change in Iraq and the likelihood that pre-emptive military action will be required to achieve this result, and he responds effectively to recent critics of the Bush Doctrine," Mr. Kristol said.

"The debate in the administration is over. The time for action grows near. Congressional leaders should seriously consider a resolution authorizing use of force when they return next week. Passing such a resolution as soon as possible would provide the president with maximum flexibility and an opportunity for tactical surprise, would strengthen his hand vis-a-vis our allies, and might embolden internal opposition in Iraq."

Anti-war 'fad'

"You won't find a more comical example of bad faith or more foolish political fad" than the reverence for soldierly wisdom that Jonathan Foreman notes is "now being embraced by anti-war pundits."

"The silliest example of this came from the New York Times' Maureen Dowd, who likened a meeting of the president with administration 'hawks' in Crawford, Texas, to a 'civilian coup against military authority.' By 'military authority,' she meant the rumored opposition of senior Pentagon figures to a campaign against Saddam Hussein," Mr. Foreman wrote in the New York Post.

"Dowd's apparent belief that generals, not 'gung-ho presidential advisers,' should determine U.S. foreign policy is presumably as disingenuous as the Times' new respect for the likes of Lawrence Eagleburger and Brent Scowcroft, old GOP foreign-policy hands who have come out against the administration's supposed 'rush' to war."

Fischer vs. Gilchrest

"The upstart campaign of Republican Dave Fischer, a Baltimore attorney who is challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest for the GOP nomination in the 1st Congressional District, is attracting a lot of attention," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.

"The Club for Growth, a group that bundles money to candidates who support a pro-growth economic agenda, is reportedly moving as much as $100,000 into the race. After a rocky start two years ago, the club is assembling an impressive track record of victories. Seven of the candidates they have backed this cycle in split GOP primaries have finished up the winner," the wire service said.

"The race is being billed as a conservative vs. moderate-liberal GOP contest. The Fischer campaign has already sent out a number of mailings claiming Gilchrest was 96 percent more likely then his GOP colleagues to vote with Bill Clinton in the former president's last year in office. Now they are following up the mailings with a radio spot voiced by a Clinton sound-alike who praises and thanks Gilchrest for the support."

Ventura's heir

Independence Party candidate Tim Penny is running even with Democrat Roger Moe and Republican Tim Pawlenty in the race for governor of Minnesota, Los Angeles Times columnist Ronald Brownstein writes.

Mr. Moe is majority leader in the state Senate. Mr. Pawlenty is majority leader in the state House.

"Penny, a former Democrat who served in the U.S. House and advised [outgoing independent Gov. Jesse] Ventura, fits the same ideological pattern as Ventura: He's fiscally conservative but moderate on social issues (he renounced his earlier support for banning abortion)," Mr. Brownstein said.

"Stylistically though, the button-down Penny is to Ventura as college wrestling is to the World Wrestling Federation: He's serious, earnest and a bit dry. There's little chance Penny will electrify younger voters and blue-collar workers the way Ventura did while surging to victory in 1998."

However, Mr. Ventura "seems genuinely interested in helping Penny," and appeared with him Friday at the state fair, Mr. Brownstein said.

Spending spree

Citizens Against Government Waste criticized congressional appropriators yesterday for adding billions of dollars to President Bush's budget request.

"The president's budget, submitted to Congress in January, outlined generous spending increases in defense, homeland security, education, and agriculture," Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz said in a prepared statement. "But it also included cuts and reforms in wasteful programs and agencies so as to maintain a semblance of fiscal discipline. Appropriators have no such restraint, and are overspending the president in virtually every category. The president should veto all of these bills."

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Appropriations Committee, "has pushed through bills that are $19 billion over the president's request, and his House counterpart, Rep. Bill Young, Florida Republican, is fighting a losing battle against a bipartisan spending spree on his committee," Mr. Schatz said.

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