- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Party time

William R. Novelli, chief executive officer of AARP, tells the New York Times that his next job is to repair relations with Democrats unhappy at the group’s support for the Medicare prescription-drug bill.

Among the Democrats most upset with the senior citizens organization is Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Mr. Novelli said he plans “a blow-out party” at AARP headquarters after Thanksgiving to let the group’s 1,200 Washington employees celebrate the bill’s passage.

“You know, I’m going to invite Senator Kennedy to the party,” he said. “He may not come. But maybe he’ll come, and have a beer with us.”

Pooh-poohing ‘growth’

Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean, confronted by a booming economy and a Medicare prescription-drug deal for seniors, “sounded like the Grinch in a desperate bid to turn good news into bad,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“‘This growth is built on a foundation of reckless and irresponsible tax cuts and record-setting levels of debt. … The Bush administration’s fiscally irresponsible house of cards upon which this ‘growth’ is built cannot continue forever,’ Mr. Dean fumed.

“Dean even felt the need to put the word ‘growth’ inside snide quotation marks as if to suggest it’s phony — so what if economists are hailing the growth news? — and did little to hide his hope that growth will slow,” Miss Orin said.

She added: “The Medicare deal underscores how far to the left the Democratic wannabes are now tilting. Eleven Senate Democrats backed the deal as did the American Association of Retired Persons, but all of the White House contenders bitterly oppose it.”

Grim news

“It seems like the bad news never stops,” Boston Herald columnist Thomas Keane Jr. writes.

“Economic indicators are up. Unemployment is falling. Seniors are about to get prescription-drug coverage. And the United States is moving forward on a plan for Iraqi self-government,” Mr. Keane observes.

“Can it get any worse?

“As the turkey is being carved [today], there will be little joy for Democrats sitting around the table. For the fact is, everything is breaking George W. Bush’s way. Increasingly his re-election looks inevitable.

“It’s going to be a grim July at the FleetCenter” in Boston, where the Democrats will hold their national convention.

S.C. poll

A new South Carolina poll shows North Carolina Sen. John Edwards leading the race for the Democratic presidential primary there, with the Rev. Al Sharpton not far behind.

The Feldman Group’s poll of 400 likely voters for the primary showed Mr. Edwards with 17 percent and Mr. Sharpton with 12 percent. Twenty-two percent of those polled were undecided.

The telephone poll was conducted Nov. 20 to 23 for Greenville magazine and had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The rest of the field: former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean had 11 percent, Wesley Clark had 10 percent, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut 9 percent, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri 8 percent, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois 6 percent, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts 5 percent and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio 1 percent.

N.C. lines

For the third straight year, North Carolina lawmakers have approved new state House and Senate districts.

Just like before, they must wait to see what the courts have to say about the new maps, the Associated Press reports.

The Senate approved the new set of districts in a 25-23 largely party-line vote Tuesday, while the House voted 72-44 for the plan. Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat, signed the measure Tuesday evening.

Already, some Republican legislators are prepared to challenge the districts in court. Legislative leaders also said they expected another legal battle after the state’s courts threw out two previous sets of maps, saying they unconstitutionally split counties.

“Your plan violates the North Carolina Constitution,” Senate Minority Leader Patrick Ballantine, a Republican, told Senate Democrats. “We cannot vote for a bill that does that.”

Supporters of the House and Senate plans defended the new lines, saying they create the kind of compact districts that the state’s courts had envisioned in recent decisions.

“It splits far fewer counties than any other plan produced by anyone to date,” said Sen. Dan Clodfelter, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee.

Republican opponents of the districts accused Democrats of watering down Republican political strength in the newest maps by illegally diluting minority voting strength.

Janklow’s defense

Prosecutors on Tuesday asked for a delay in the trial of Rep. Bill Janklow, South Dakota Republican, saying they hadn’t had time to review a medical record indicating the lawmaker’s diabetes might have contributed to a deadly vehicle crash.

Prosecutors said defense documents recently supplied to them included an Oct. 27 medical exam indicating Mr. Janklow had symptoms consistent with a diabetic reaction around the time of the accident, which killed a motorcyclist.

“We’re getting records a week before the trial,” Deputy Moody County State’s Attorney Roger Ellyson complained.

The requested delay, however, was denied. Mr. Janklow’s trial still is scheduled to begin Monday.

The 64-year-old congressman is charged with speeding, running a stop sign, reckless driving and manslaughter in an accident Aug. 16 that killed Randy Scott of Hardwick, Minn. Prosecutors say he was going 71 mph.

Issa’s decision

California Rep. Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the recall drive against Gov. Gray Davis, will not seek the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat.

Instead, Mr. Issa filed Tuesday afternoon to run for re-election to the House. “He is very committed and determined in his congressional work,” spokesman Jonathan Wilcox said.

Mrs. Boxer is seeking her third term.

Mr. Issa, 50, an auto-alarm magnate, became a hero to many Republicans after spending $1.7 million to finance the recall drive that ultimately bounced Mr. Davis from office in favor of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mr. Issa had planned to run to replace Mr. Davis himself, but opted out of the race after the Austrian-born actor became a candidate.

Several days ago, Rep. David Dreier, who gained visibility as one of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s advisers during the recall campaign, also opted out of the Senate race.

Former Secretary of State Bill Jones, who has said he is seriously considering a run for the nomination, said he would make a final decision “right away,” but declined to say exactly when, the Associated Press reports.

Candidates must file by Dec. 5 to appear on the March primary ballot.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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