- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

Republicans have begun their campaign to link House Democrats representing conservative districts to the liberal wing of their party and in particular Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.
Citing Mrs. Pelosi's support for national gun-control laws, needle-exchange programs, abortion and same-sex "marriage," the National Republican Congressional Committee issued news releases after several Blue Dog Democrats accepted contributions from Mrs. Pelosi's political action committee, PAC to the Future.
One such release went to newspapers around the conservative Louisiana district of Rep. Rodney Alexander, who won the closest House race of any Democrat in 2002.
"Pelosi's investment in Alexander comes even as the Minority Leader is taking dramatic steps to move her party even further to the left," the release says. "And sooner or later she will be asking for a return on her investment."
Mr. Alexander and seven other Democrats representing conservative districts received $5,000 campaign donations this year from Mrs. Pelosi's PAC, the Federal Election Commission said. Those Democrats include Rep. Ken Lucas of Kentucky and Jim Matheson of Utah.
Mr. Alexander's chief of staff, Wooten Johnson, dismissed the release as "bull."
"It doesn't work," Mr. Johnson said. "They're trying to make Rodney something he's not. Rodney is a conservative, pro-life, pro-gun Democrat."
Mr. Alexander won his seat in a runoff by 974 votes out of more than 170,000 cast. The northern Louisiana district, which voted 59 percent for George W. Bush in 2000, had been represented by Rep. John Cooksey, a conservative Republican who stepped down before an unsuccessful run for the Senate.
Republicans say they hope Mr. Cooksey will run to reclaim his old seat. In 2000, he won election to his third term with 69 percent of the vote.
Democrats similarly have tried connecting Republicans to the conservatives in their party.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a news release linking Rep. Max Burns, Georgia Republican, to Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican and staunch conservative.
Under Mr. DeLay's leadership, House Republicans passed a budget that included $726 billion in tax reductions and budget cuts in areas such as veterans' programs.
"Three days after Burns provided a crucial vote to slash veterans funding, he was one of 12 vulnerable GOP incumbents receiving at least $5,000 from DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC," says the release.
Mr. Lucas and Mr. Matheson also are targeted by Republicans.
Mr. Lucas won a close race in a district that voted 61 percent for Mr. Bush in 2000. Mr. Lucas, whose office did not return several calls seeking comment, did not vote for Mrs. Pelosi in last year's election that made her minority leader.
NRCC spokesman Carl Forti asked, "Whose values does Ken Lucas represent: San Francisco or Kentucky's?
"The Democratic Party they are a part of is not a conservative party," Mr. Forti said. "It's the party of Nancy Pelosi, their leader."
Mr. Matheson, the only Utah Democrat in either chamber of Congress, won election to his second term last year by 2,015 votes. His office did not return a call seeking comment.

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