- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

Kirk ahead in Texas
Texas Democrat Ron Kirk holds an early lead over Republican rival John Cornyn in their U.S. Senate race, according to a new poll. But more than a third of those surveyed said they were undecided.
In the race for governor, Republican incumbent Rick Perry holds a sizable lead in the face of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz by Democratic challenger Tony Sanchez.
The University of Houston's Center for Public Policy poll found that 36 percent of Texans favor Mr. Kirk and 28 percent Mr. Cornyn, with 36 percent undecided.
The June 29 telephone survey of 739 registered, likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Richard Murray, the center's director and a political scientist at the university, said Mr. Cornyn, the state attorney general, remains unknown to many voters, the Dallas Morning News reports.
He said Mr. Kirk's performance winning the primary this spring and his tenure as mayor of Dallas have given him an early advantage.
In the Perry-Sanchez matchup, the new survey has the governor ahead, 43 percent to 32 percent, with 25 percent undecided. But Mr. Murray noted that the incumbent's failure to take 50 percent indicates he is vulnerable.

Pryce's baggage
"Some Republicans think that it would be a p.r. mistake to replace J.C. Watts as head of the House Republican Conference the fourth-ranking position in the Republican leadership with a white guy," Ramesh Ponnuru notes at the National Review Web site (www.nationalreview.com).
"It's true that a demographic shift would surely be noted. But one hopes that identity politics will not have too much influence among the Republicans. It's not as though they received enormous credit for putting a black man in a higher position of leadership than the Democrats ever have. (And it's not as though female Republicans or black Republicans need the conference-chairman position to appear on television with an 'R' under their name.)
"Watts' resignation, meanwhile, is being attributed in some quarters, however laughably, to Republican hostility to blacks," Mr. Ponnuru said.
"The field of candidates to replace Watts is still forming, and conservatives outside Congress should probably withhold judgment as it does. (Not that anyone outside Congress can really influence these things.)
"One candidate, however, deserves opposition: Deborah Pryce of Ohio. In 1992, Pryce won a tough nominating fight in part by saying she opposed abortion. Within two weeks of her win, she flipped. There's no reason to spend time reviewing her lackluster congressional career. This contemptible act tells you everything you need to know about her political character and about whether she deserves advancement."

Florida GOP wins
A panel of three federal judges has upheld new boundary lines for Florida's congressional and state Senate districts.
The decision was handed down Tuesday. In an order from one of the judges, the U.S. District Court panel said it was delaying a ruling on state House districts because of a pending objection to that plan by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The panel scheduled a Monday hearing in Tallahassee to deal with the questions about the state House plan, the Associated Press reports.
A coalition of Democratic plaintiffs had asked the judges to block all three redistricting plans. They argued the plans were unfair to minorities and that they amounted to illegal gerrymandering by the Republican-led Legislature.
The judges didn't issue comments with their ruling Tuesday beyond saying that the plaintiffs failed to prove their case.
With the decision, the congressional plan cleared its final hurdle. The state Senate plan still faces a legal challenge in Marion County.
Senate President John McKay said he was pleased that the Senate and congressional plans were approved, even if the House plan still must be worked out.
Joe Garcia, a spokesman for some of the Democrats who challenged the plan, called the decision disappointing.
"It's very unfortunate that the court seems not to care that under this plan African-American and non-Cuban Hispanic voters will be disenfranchised in Florida for the next decade," he said.

Try, try again
A database that led to the wrongful removal of names from voter rolls in the 2000 election will be reprocessed to look for names that should be restored, under an agreement in a federal voting-rights lawsuit.
The agreement reached Tuesday could restore hundreds of names to Florida's voter rolls. It would be the first time since the disputed 2000 election that the central voter files would be corrected for errors, attorneys said.
The deal must be approved by U.S. District Judge Alan Gold.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and four other civil rights groups sued Florida, several counties and the processing company ChoicePoint about problems that they claim disenfranchised voters. President Bush beat Al Gore in Florida by just 537 votes, giving him the presidency.
ChoicePoint bought DBT, the company that was awarded a $4.2 million state contract to compile a list of felons and dead people who should be purged from the voter rolls.
ChoicePoint spokesman James Lee said that list was compiled according to state requirements. About 58,000 names were sent to all 67 county elections supervisors, who were responsible for deciding whether to purge the names from the voter rolls.
Under Tuesday's agreement, ChoicePoint will recheck voter lists using stricter identification criteria than those applied before the election, requiring a match of first and last name, Social Security number, race, sex and date of birth, the Associated Press reports.

Robed legislator
"California doesn't have a monopoly on judges who make up the law as they go along," the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.
"Following last week's Ninth Circuit Pledge of Allegiance fiasco, this week a federal judge in Manhattan declared capital punishment unconstitutional. The Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994, Judge Jed Rakoff proclaimed, is 'tantamount to foreseeable, state-sponsored murder of innocent human beings.'
"Thanks for the moral nuance, judge. Never mind that Congress, the duly elected representatives of the people, enacted that penalty for certain classes of evil-doers convicted of particularly heinous federal crimes. In the imperious world of some federal judges, legislators are mere inconveniences; they can wave their magic gavels and announce what they like.
"There's a renewed national debate on capital punishment, and in his opinion, Judge Rakoff recites many of the standard death penalty objections. It hardly advances that highly charged debate to have a federal judge allude to members of Congress who support capital punishment as murderers. If Judge Rakoff wants to vote against the death penalty, he ought to resign from the bench and run for Congress or the state legislature, where the Founders thought such debates belonged."

Borking alert
Liberals are gearing up to take down another "extreme" Bush judicial nominee, and apparently they've actually bothered to come up with a new angle: Blame Karl Rove.
In the upcoming issue of the Nation, "John Nichols reports on Karl Rove's role in the Bush administration's fight to pack the courts with conservative judicial activists," America's oldest liberal journal brags in a press release.
Exactly what role the chief White House political adviser plays in all this is something we'll have to wait to find out in the July 22 issue, but the Nation's press release adds: "When Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, 'a Karl Rove special,' comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the hearing on her nomination, she will face unprecedented criticism on her extreme right-wing record."

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