- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Why they won

Exit polls released yesterday help explain Republican gubernatorial victories last week, finding that Haley Barbour overcame high black turnout with overwhelming support from whites in Mississippi, while Ernie Fletcher capitalized on ill will toward the scandal-plagued Democratic incumbent in Kentucky.

The surveys also suggest that Kentucky and Mississippi, both of which backed George W. Bush for president in 2000, still lean his way for 2004, the Associated Press reports.

The exit polls in the Nov. 4 elections were the first conducted for the National Election Pool, a consortium formed by major news organizations after they disbanded Voter News Service following blown projections in 2000 and computer failures in 2002.

In Mississippi, 33 percent of voters were black — three to six points higher than in VNS exit polls in the past three presidential elections — and 94 percent of them voted to re-elect Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

But 77 percent of whites backed Mr. Barbour, propelling the Washington lobbyist and former Republican National Committee chairman to victory with 53 percent of the overall vote.

In Kentucky, 18 percent said one reason for their vote for governor was to express opposition to term-limited Gov. Paul E. Patton, and 84 percent of them voted for Mr. Fletcher. Mr. Patton admitted having an extramarital affair and his administration is the subject of numerous investigations.

On and on and on

When Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, began a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, he said it would last all afternoon, but it went on much longer.

Republicans scheduled the Senate to spend 30 consecutive hours this week discussing judicial nominations by President Bush that Democrats have blocked, and Mr. Reid spoke in protest of that decision, the Associated Press reports. That marathon is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

The 63-year-old Mr. Reid ended up speaking for more than 8½ hours, leaning at times on his desk but remaining on his feet the entire time to avoid losing his right to speak.

He read at length from “Searchlight, The Camp That Didn’t Fail,” a book he wrote on his tiny hometown of Searchlight, Nev.

“The majority has to work with us or nothing gets done,” warned Mr. Reid, referring to the Senate minority’s ability to use procedural delays to grind the chamber’s work to a halt.

Senate leaders hope to complete their work for the year so Congress can adjourn Nov. 21. To do so, lawmakers still must complete nine of the 13 routine spending bills for the new budget year, and Republicans would like to finish major Medicare and energy legislation as well.

To achieve that, deals must be struck on overtime pay, media-ownership limits, veterans spending and other issues that have been intractable all year.

Gay ad campaign

The nation’s largest homosexual-rights advocacy group has launched a national media campaign in favor of homosexual “marriage” and to counteract recent right-wing attacks on the issue.

The new ad campaign says real families have real problems when homosexuals are denied “marriage” licenses, Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), told a Washington press briefing yesterday.

Julie and Hillary Goodridge, plaintiffs in a pending Massachusetts lawsuit, said hospital staff would not recognize them as a couple when their daughter was born. Another couple from Maryland, Jo and Teresa, who are featured in an HRC ad without identifying their last names, worried about how their three children would be cared for in the event of the couple’s sickness or death.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which along with dozens of other groups has pledged to uphold traditional marriage, said the HRC campaign was aimed at “redefining” marriage in America and predicted that “protecting marriage will be a major issue in the 2004 elections.”

Ohio ‘Porkers’

Citizens Against Government Waste has named three Ohio Republicans as its November “Porkers of the Month,” for opposing what CAGW says is a key cost-saving provision in the Medicare prescription-drug bill.

Sens. George V. Voinovich and Mike DeWine, along with Rep. David L. Hobson are opposing a provision in the House Medicare drug bill that would require competitive bidding for durable medical equipment, such as canes and walkers, CAGW said in a press release yesterday. Medicare pays a fixed rate to select companies for such medical equipment.

CAGW argues that while the lawmakers say the competitive model would drive small companies out of business and discourage innovation, they are really just protecting Ohio-based Invacare, which CAGW said is the world’s largest producer of home health products and gets 40 percent of its business from Medicare accounts.

CAGW said the three are putting “hometown special interests before the interests of the nation’s taxpayers.”

Depressed Democrats

George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s “This Week,” says that “just about every major Democratic insider I spoke with at the end of [last] week, if I could come up with one word to describe them, it would be depressed — depressed at the prospect of Howard Dean getting the nomination” for president.

ABC’s political director Mark Halperin, interviewed on the program Sunday, said he found the same pessimism among Democrats he had spoken with.

“There was a time when the Democratic Party nominated people for the presidency who seemed to support and did support higher taxes, a weak defense and were sort of culturally out of step with the rest of the country,” Mr. Halperin said. “We called those the ‘70s and the ‘80s. And Democrats who are depressed are worried that this century is gonna start nominating someone, in their view, who fits that mold, and, sure enough, the White House will paint Howard Dean or any other Democrat that way.”

These depressed Democrats are worried that Mr. Dean is not “ready for prime time,” Mr. Halperin said.

Janklow case ruling

Jurors in U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow’s upcoming trial in the death of a motorcyclist will hear testimony about a close call at the same intersection, but not about three accidents and 12 speeding tickets in his driving record, a judge ruled yesterday.

Mr. Janklow, a Republican former South Dakota governor elected to Congress last year, is charged with manslaughter and three misdemeanors for a fatal traffic accident near Trent on Aug. 16.

His trial is due to start Dec. 1 in Flandreau. The manslaughter count carries a potential 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine if convicted.

Authorities charge that Mr. Janklow was driving a Cadillac at 71 mph in a 55-mph zone and had just run a stop sign at a rural intersection when the motorcycle ridden by Randy Scott collided with the car, killing Mr. Scott, 55, of Hardwick, Minn.

Mr. Janklow, who did not attend yesterday’s hearing, suffered a broken hand and bleeding on the brain.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]m.


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