- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) — Capital Comment — Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Sir tax …

After almost a decade of overspending fueled by a surging economy, many of the states now find themselves coming up short, fiscally speaking. The U.S. financial downturn and sluggish economic growth has created budget gaps that governors and state lawmakers are feverishly trying to close, either through actual cuts, slower-than-anticipated increases in some program spending or by raising additional revenue through new taxes or increases in existing taxes.

As part of a larger plan to close his state's gap, Nevada GOP Gov. Kenny Guinn has proposed slapping a 7.3 percent tax on entertainment and ticket sales for strip clubs, movies, professional sporting events, and adult cabarets, among other attractions.

Also subject to a potential tax hit is the state's legalized prostitution industry that, though not specifically mentioned in Guinn's plan, is reportedly not exempted either. Several state legislators want the industry to be subjected to the tax along with other entertainment enterprises though — as the prostitutes are considered independent contractors under Nevada law — it may be difficult to figure out how to assess and collect it. Nevada is the only state with legalized prostitution.

Right moves …

Gentry Lee, a county commissioner in Russell County, Ala., has changed his party registration from Democrat to Republican. Lee, a commissioner since 1992, is now the only Republican elected official in the county, which is located in the lower part of the state on the border with Georgia.

The survey says …

Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry holds a strong lead among likely New Hampshire voters in next January's first in the nation Democrat presidential primary. A survey by Zogby International conducted among 600 likely New Hampshire voters, conducted Feb. 22-24, showed Kerry with the support of 26 percent of respondents. He was followed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean at 13 percent, former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., at 11 percent and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. at 9 percent. No other candidates tested in the survey, which has a margin of error of +/-4.1 percent, received the support of more than 2 percent of respondents.

In the loop …

With little fanfare and little surprise, Richard M. Daley has been re-elected to a job that some folks believe he was born to do. On Tuesday the 60-year-old Daley was given another term as mayor of Chicago by a majority of more than 5 to 1 in a campaign that, by the usual standard, was very quiet, almost tame.

Daley's father, the legendary Richard J. Daley, led the city and its once all-powerful Democrat machine for 21 years. The son's Tuesday victory — with 79 percent of the vote — bests the father's record of 76 percent set in 1975. Post-election analysis, however, shows that the percentage of registered voters who turned out may have been the lowest ever for a mayoral contest.

A Dyer situation …

Florida Democrats are crowing over the landslide win posted by ex-state Sen. Buddy Dyer in the race for Orlando mayor. Dyer defeated Republican advertising executive Peter Barr 57 percent to 43 percent in Tuesday's special election. Pre-election polls had the race as too close to call. The campaign to replace Republican Glenda Hood, recently appointed Florida secretary of state, was one of the nastiest local races in recent memory, people familiar with state politics said.

By any other name …

French intransigence over the possibility of war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has many Americans fuming. Anti-French sentiment is growing and being expressed on any number of U.S.-based Web sites urging American consumers to boycott French products. Also being encouraged are alterations to idiomatic English in much the same way that German words and phrases were temporarily excised from the language during World War I. "During the first world war, sauerkraut became known as 'Liberty Cabbage' so as to take away its German flavor," Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis says. "I propose that, for the duration of the current crisis, America should do the same with the references to the French in our language."

"For example," Lewis says, "we should refer to 'French kissing' as 'Liberty kissing' until further notice."

Delta doings …

Saying he is "running to win," Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove filed papers announcing his candidacy for re-election Wednesday afternoon. Musgrove, a Democrat, had been the subject of rumors around the state saying he was considering a bid to become the new president of Delta State University, speculation that ended with his announcement. He had until Saturday to file his re-election papers. Musgrove faces off against trial attorney John Arthur Eaves Jr., a former political ally, in the August primary. The GOP's Haley Barbour, former Republican National Committee chairman, currently has no serious opposition for his party's nomination.

In other news, Mississippi state Rep. Jim Barnett, a Democrat, announced that he would run for re-election to the seat he has held since 1992 as a Republican. In 1999, state Democrats leaders reprimanded the 76-year-old physician for voting in a Republican primary; something Barnett said was a big factor in his decision to switch parties.

In January, state Rep. Herb Frierson joined the GOP after serving three terms as a Democrat, announcing he too would file for re-election as a Republican.


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