- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2002

Surprising numbers
The Republicans hold a large lead on the so-called generic-ballot question in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll.
"In one closely watched, if imprecise, measure of the overall partisan strength of the two parties, 47 percent of likely voters said they would vote for a Republican in [this] week's congressional contest, compared with 40 percent who said they would vote Democratic," the New York Times reported yesterday.
"The margin of sampling error for that question was plus or minus five percentage points," reporters Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder said.
Historically, Republicans have outperformed their generic-ballot numbers by about six percentage points.
Political analyst Michael Barone, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," expressed doubt that the Republicans could be as far ahead as the poll indicated.
Other recent polls have found the Republicans and Democrats in a near tie on the generic-ballot question.

Hillary's boo-boo
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton rankled some Florida blue bloods recently in a speech delivered at a dinner of the Dade Human Rights Foundation.
As told by the Miami New Times, the foundation was celebrating its expansion into neighboring Broward County by rechristening itself the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of South Florida. What better way to mark this occasion than by honoring the esteemed Democratic senator from New York at a dinner?
But Mrs. Clinton's speech at an intimate pre-main event soiree, held for the foundation's big-buck donors and VIPs, was a bust. The well-heeled crowd included no small number of Republicans. It appears neither Mrs. Clinton nor her staff did any homework on the guest list.
"As Clinton delivered a spirited tirade against Gov. Jeb Bush, there was some serious gnashing of teeth around the room," the New Times article states.
It quoted one person in attendance as saying, "You should have seen the looks on people's faces when Hillary started calling for higher estate taxes. Let's just say nobody was running up afterward to give her a big donation."

Nail-biter in Alaska
"In the Republican-leaning neighborhood of College Village [in Anchorage, Alaska], the yard signs tell the story: Over a mile-long stretch of one busy thoroughfare, 12 signs support GOP U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski as Alaska's next governor and 11 are for his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer," the Wall Street Journal reports.
"With the gubernatorial campaign winding down, the two leading candidates are running neck-and-neck in the polls. Only a few months ago, the 69-year-old Mr. Murkowski was widely viewed [in Alaska] as a shoo-in to succeed two-term Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat who by state law cannot seek a third straight term. Few other Alaskan politicians were seen as having the same level of name recognition or clout as Mr. Murkowski," reporters Jim Carlton and Allen Baker write.
"But few other politicians have matched the campaigning tenacity of the 55-year-old Ms. Ulmer, a pistol-packing mother of two who has spent the better part of 20 years in various political capacities in Alaska. She was its second-highest-ranking elected official the past eight years and before that, mayor of the capital city of Juneau. Ms. Ulmer has crisscrossed the state through all weather by car, plane and motor home.
"Mr. Murkowski, by contrast, has spent much of his time shuttling between Washington, D.C., and Alaska, often holding political get-togethers in the two biggest cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks.
"Ms. Ulmer's polls show her slightly ahead in the race, while Mr. Murkowski's show him slightly ahead."

Fitting in
Brit Hume, on "Fox News Sunday," tried to learn from a member of the Senate's Democratic leadership if Walter Mondale has been promised "any more seniority than he would otherwise be entitled to" if he is elected to serve as Minnesota's new junior senator.
Mr. Hume told Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, he recognizes that Mr. Mondale, as a former vice president, will join the leadership "in the largely ceremonial post as assistant or deputy president pro tem."
He said he wanted to know if Mr. Mondale will be given any other Senate leadership positions.
"I'm obviously not privy to personal conversations between the majority leader and other members," Mrs. Murray said, referring to Sen. Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
She added: "I'll tell you this. I'm keeping my eye on the ball Tuesday. And it will be a great problem to have to figure out where everyone fits into our caucus on Wednesday."

Important races
The anonymous Prowler, writing at www.americanprowler.org, points to "Two races worth monitoring that may prove critical to Republicans' retaining control of the House:
"1. North Carolina's 8th, where Republican Rep. Robin Hayes had the deck stacked against him by the Democratically controlled state house during redistricting. Hayes already knew he had a tougher fight this time around when Democrats moved several heavily Democratic Charlotte suburbs into his district, which otherwise features moderates and Republicans and military (read 'conservative') households.
"But Hayes made it even tougher on himself when he supported the Bush administration's fast-track trade authority legislation, a move that might have undercut his standing in a state that treasures agricultural and textile quotas and trade protections.
"Hayes, though, has done a tremendous fund-raising job and appears in line to hold the seat against Democratic challenger Chris Khouri. The Republican has pulled in more than $2.2 million compared to less than $500,000 for the Democrat. House Democrats had viewed Hayes' seat as a 'pickup' target, but party insiders now say Dems have given up on it and turned their attention to other districts around the country.
"2. Oklahoma's 4th, where Republican Tom Cole appears in good shape to hold the seat of retiring Republican J.C. Watts. Cole has weathered a minor storm over Democratic ads that charged he sought to avoid the draft, this in a district that includes a military base and a number of retired military personnel. Currently, Coles' lead is in single digits, but beyond the margin of error."

Using his religion

"The governor's race in Massachusetts is a dead heat, and candidate Mitt Romney, like many of his GOP predecessors, is aiming to eke out a victory by touting conservative fiscal policies and hoping no one will ask him about anything else," Naomi Schaefer writes at www.opinionjournal.com.
"But Mr. Romney a former chief executive of Bain Capital, a rescuer of the Salt Lake City Olympics and one of the country's most prominent Mormons is finding that it's not that simple. Two weeks ago, the Boston Globe asked how, as a graduate of Brigham Young University, he could reconcile his financial support of his alma mater with his statements opposing discrimination against homosexuals. BYU bans homosexual behavior by its students and faculty," the writer noted.
"Mr. Romney replied: 'BYU is a religiously oriented university. I just don't think religion should be part of a campaign.' Not exactly a forceful response.
"Presumably, Mr. Romney had been advised to make it clear to voters that, if elected, he would not run Massachusetts as a Mormon protectorate, rewriting the laws to reflect the rules of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But who now believes that mainstream candidates can't distinguish between religious and civic duties?
"Yet the pressure for Mr. Romney to condemn BYU hasn't let up."

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