- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster, angered over interference by national Republicans in a Republican primary contest for the U.S. Senate, yesterday told the White House to stay out of his state's politics.
"There is not a four-letter word the governor didn't use when he heard about what the White House and the [National Republican Senatorial] committee had done," a Republican source close to Mr. Foster said.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee normally remains neutral in primary contests. But it has angered some Republicans in Louisiana by deciding to intervene in the state's Republican Senate primary.
NRSC Chairman Bill Frist of Tennessee announced on Tuesday that the committee would spend up to $500,000 on campaign advertisements for Suzanne Haik Terrell, one of three Republicans competing in Louisiana's primary for the chance to unseat Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.
Mr. Foster has endorsed Rep. John Cooksey, one of the other two contenders in the primary along with state Sen. Tony Perkins. The governor had expected the NRSC to stay out of the contest.
On learning of Mr. Frist's move, Mr. Foster placed an angry telephone call yesterday to White House chief political strategist Karl Rove, two Republican sources close to both men said.
"Foster told us he had just called the White House to say 'Stay the blank out of Louisiana politics,'" a Republican source said. "He deals only with Rove."
Mr. Rove was in Texas, but his office in the White House denied that he had received a telephone call from Mr. Foster yesterday.
Mr. Rove's office also said that the last time he had spoken with the Louisiana governor was on Friday.
Mr. Foster wasn't the only Republican upset over the Frist move.
"I can't repeat some of the language I've heard today from Republican leaders about what Frist and those idiots in Washington did," said former Republican Rep. John Treen, a member of the state party central committee and regional chairman in Jefferson Parish.
"The anger has reached the boiling pint," he said. "Many Republican leaders here do not want Suzy Terrell and don't believe she can be elected."
Louisiana Republican officials confirmed that the state party has been asked to write a letter to Mr. Frist demanding that he not use the coordinated expenditures to favor any of the primary candidates.
However, state Republican Party Chairman Pat Brister said in an interview that she would not write the letter.
She said that an angry Mr. Foster called her yesterday and demanded to know if the state party had anything to do with the decision to back Mrs. Terrell.
"He did not ask me to write the letter," Mrs. Brister said. "I told him the state party had nothing to do with the NRSC decision, we didn't agree with it but that we had signed over our authority [some months before] to make coordinated expenditures on our behalf and there was nothing we could do about it now."
Mrs. Brister said she told Mr. Foster the state Republican Party would remain neutral in the primary.
Mr. Cooksey is expected to get the endorsement of the Jefferson Parish Republican Party at a meeting tonight. Jefferson Parish, with 86,000 registered Republicans, is the largest Republican enclave in the state.
Neither Mr. Frist nor his press aides returned telephone calls yesterday. But in a statement released on Tuesday Mr. Frist noted that Mrs. Terrell, the state elections commissioner, is the first Republican woman to be elected to a statewide office.
"Suzie was one of President Bush's earliest and strongest supporters," Mr. Frist said in the statement supporting Mrs. Terrell's candidacy. "In her capacity as elections commissioner, she earned the respect of Republicans and Democrats for cleaning up rampant corruption and instituting reforms that saved taxpayers $20 million."
Mrs. Terrell was Louisiana co-chairman of Mr. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.
Mr. Frist argued that the NRSC's support of Mrs. Terrell was necessary in order to make sure at least one Republican gets early financial support to keep Mrs. Landrieu from winning a clear majority in Louisiana's Nov. 4 open primary in which candidates and voters from both parties participate.
The top two vote-getters will compete in a Dec. 7 runoff, which in effect will be the general election under the state's unique system.

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