- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Dingell vs. Rivers

U.S. Reps. John D. Dingell and Lynn Rivers, two Democrats thrown together into the same Michigan district by the Republican-led state Legislature, are going at each other hard as their Aug. 6 primary nears.

Mrs. Rivers, in campaign commercials, is emphasizing her sex, her relative youth and her humble origins, the New York Times reports.

"We certainly had days when I was looking around the house for pop bottles and hauling them back to make sure I had the money I needed to buy a gallon of milk," she says in one commercial, adding: "There's a lot more that has to be done for real families, and I'm not ready to leave Congress."

Mrs. Rivers, 45, likes to tell voters how, as a young mother, she worked her way through college and law school. The 76-year-old Mr. Dingell, on the other hand, "can barely hide his contempt" for his opponent's touchy-feely campaign tactics, reporter Katharine Q. Seelye writes.

"I know what it is to have an empty refrigerator," Mr. Dingell told the reporter. "I know what it is to have your relatives descend on you. I know what it is to have the family farm foreclosed that happened to my granddad out in Iowa."

"I know what it is to sit up at night with sick kids and take care of kids and help with their homework. I know all of these things firsthand because I've lived them. I got the kids in a terrible divorce because I had no choice." he said.

Mr. Dingell then reached his point, almost shouting, the reporter said. "These things do not qualify me for office. They might qualify me for sympathy, but I'm Polish, and Poles don't ask for sympathy. I have the curious view that I should be judged on the basis of what I stand for, what I've done, my ability, my effectiveness, the kind of service I give my constituents, my legislative record, my personal integrity."

Mr. Dingell concluded: "Those are the questions, not sex or creed or color. I resent those. I think everyone who is a decent American will. And I haven't got the arrogance or the gall to run whining to people and say, 'I was a teen-age mother and, therefore, I ought to get elected to Congress.'"

Polls show Mr. Dingell with about a 10-point lead.


Reno's dance party

Inspired by a television skit that spoofed Janet Reno as the gawky host of a basement dance club, the former U.S. attorney general is throwing a real-life "Janet Reno Dance Party" at a Miami Beach nightclub to raise money for her gubernatorial campaign.

Miss Reno will court young voters during the July 19 fund-raiser at the Level nightclub on glitzy South Beach, campaign spokeswoman Nicole Harburger said yesterday.

A $25 campaign contribution will get revelers past the velvet ropes at the cavernous club that bills itself as "a mecca for the world's most beautiful people," Reuters reports.

The Florida Democrat marked the end of her tenure as attorney general in January 2001 by appearing on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," where actor Will Ferrell dressed in drag to portray Miss Reno as an achingly un-hip dance-party host.

On the show, Miss Reno crashed through a fake wall and danced the twist with Mr. Ferrell, the two identically clad in matronly royal blue dresses with matching jackets and pearls.

If Miss Reno wins the Sept. 10 Democratic primary, she will face Republican Gov. Jeb Bush in the November general election.


No love lost

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, is generally considered a good bet for re-election but a fellow Democrat threatens to make the contest more competitive, United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.

"Former U.S. Rep. Cleo Fields has started hinting that he may join the race if another Democrat whom he can support does not. There is no love lost between Fields and Landrieu since she failed to support Fields, who now serves in the state Senate, in his race for governor in 1995," the wire service said.

"Because of the unusual manner in which federal officials are elected in the state everyone runs on the same ballot on Election Day and, if no one gets more that 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters contest in a runoff every time a new candidate joins the field, the less likely Landrieu's chances to win on Election Day become. In addition to Landrieu, U.S. Rep. John Cooksey [Louisiana Republican], and GOP state Rep. Tony Perkins are already in the race with at least one other Republican expected to file."


Chairman wanted

With Election Day just months away, Illinois Republicans are having a hard time finding a new state chairman.

The problem arose after House Republican Leader Lee Daniels stepped down as chairman Monday amid charges that his staff did political work on state time during the 2000 elections, the Associated Press reports.

His resignation, announced late last month, comes as federal indictments keep piling up in the investigation of the campaign apparatus of outgoing Republican Gov. George Ryan.

"Our party's in disarray right now," said state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano. "We're just going to try to regroup and move forward."

Dallas Ingemunson, the Illinois Republican Party vice chairman, agreed Monday to be interim chairman until the party's state central committee meets July 26. His appointment came after three high-profile GOP members declined the job.

"I think the Republicans are being painted with a very broad brush that is unfair," said Attorney General Jim Ryan, the Republican nominee for governor in the Nov. 5 election, who is no relation to the incumbent.

The attorney general said the party is not in disarray. He said the three people he approached to take the chairman's job former Gov. Jim Edgar, U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood and former Quaker Oats Chairman William Smithburg declined because of other commitments.


Fishing compassion

When it comes to fishing, Dick Armey is a confirmed catch-and-releaser.

The House majority leader was recounting to reporters yesterday his July 4 recess fishing exploits he claimed eight rainbow trout the first day and, by his wife's count, 25 the second day when someone asked if he kept them.

"I'm not a cannibal," the Texas Republican replied. "If you take a bass, it's cannibalism; a rainbow, it's cannibalism. If you want to understand the gravity of eating one of these fine athletes, it's like the Cowboys come to town, defeat the Redskins, and then barbecue the quarterback. You just don't do it."

But the same apparently doesn't hold for the snakehead fish, which has been found in a pond in Anne Arundel County in Maryland, and which some fear could disrupt the normal patterns of large-mouth or striped bass.

"If I find something that's killing the other fish something like that, I'll kill it," he said. "I won't tolerate that."


Ventura ill

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura was admitted yesterday to a hospital for treatment of a blood clot in his lung and was in stable condition, his spokesman said.

Spokesman John Wodele told the Associated Press the 50-year-old governor was being treated with blood thinners and was in good spirits.

Mr. Wodele said the governor woke up yesterday with discomfort in his chest. He went to North Memorial Hospital in suburban Robbinsdale after seeing his primary physician.

Mr. Ventura canceled his public schedule for the next couple of days and was to spend the night in the hospital.

"We'll just evaluate as we go whether or not he can work beyond the ailment," Mr. Wodele said.

Mr. Ventura said last month he would not seek a second term this fall. When he made the announcement, the former professional wrestler said that his heart was no longer in the job and that he was tired of criticism of his family.

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