- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003

Fletcher, Barbour lead

A Republican congressman leads in Kentucky and former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour has an edge in Mississippi heading into the final 10 days of the two Nov. 4 gubernatorial races, according to polls conducted for the Associated Press and other news organizations.

In Kentucky, the Ipsos-Public Affairs survey found 52 percent of likely voters would back Republican Rep. Ernie Fletcher and 43 percent would support Democratic state Attorney General Ben Chandler if the election were held today. Mr. Fletcher would be Kentucky’s first Republican governor in 32 years.

In an Ipsos poll in Mississippi, 50 percent said they’d vote for Mr. Barbour and 45 percent would re-elect Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

Kentucky and Mississippi are the only states with gubernatorial elections Nov. 4. Louisiana had an open primary for governor last month and will have a runoff Nov. 15.

The telephone surveys were conducted Tuesday through Thursday, Oct. 21-23, among 600 likely voters in Kentucky and 623 likely voters in Mississippi. The sampling error margin for each poll was plus or minus four percentage points, larger for subgroups.

In Kentucky, a Bluegrass Poll conducted on the same days by the Courier-Journal of Louisville also found Mr. Fletcher up by nine percentage points, 48 percent to 39 percent, with 13 percent undecided. That poll had 712 likely voters and a sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. Mr. Chandler had been about even with Mr. Fletcher in a Bluegrass Poll conducted Sept. 19-24.

A ‘no’ in Georgia

Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, ruled out a campaign for the seat of Sen. Zell Miller, saying Friday she will focus on her family instead.

Mrs. Nunn, 36, joins former Mayor Andrew Young on a list of Democrats who have looked at the race and turned it down.

“In the next few years, I believe that my primary focus is best directed toward my 11-month-old son and family,” she said.

She said her father “was completely supportive either way.” She runs a volunteer group called Hands-On Atlanta, but has never held political office.

Mr. Miller, a Democrat, doesn’t plan to seek re-election next year. Democrats have had a difficult time finding a strong candidate, while Republicans have four candidates, including two incumbent congressmen, the Associated Press reports.

Many Democrats had pinned their hopes on Mr. Young, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Carter administration. But after considering the race for months, he announced Oct. 3 he would not run.

“We think Michelle Nunn would have been a good candidate, but we respect her decision,” state Democratic Party Chairman Calvin Smyre said in a statement.

“She will provide an excellent voice in Democratic politics in the years to come. We expect to run a strong campaign for the U.S. Senate and to retain Sen. Miller’s seat for the Democratic Party,” he said.

The only announced Democratic candidate is little-known state Sen. Mary Squires.

Sam Nunn, 65, served four terms in the Senate, from 1973 to 1997.

Philadelphia poll

Philadelphia’s embattled Mayor John Street maintains a slim lead over his Republican challenger in a mayoral campaign that has been polarized along racial lines by revelations of a federal probe of City Hall, according to a survey published yesterday.

Mr. Street, a black Democratic incumbent, edged out Republican businessman Sam Katz 46 percent to 41 percent, with 12 percent of voters undecided, in a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey published by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The election is scheduled for Nov. 4 in Philadelphia, where about 80 percent of registered voters are Democrats.

The Mason-Dixon poll of 800 likely voters, which had a 3.5 percent margin of error, also found that two-thirds of Philadelphia voters believe an FBI probe of possible corruption in the Street administration is a political dirty tricks campaign by Republican Party leaders in Washington.

Prosecutors and FBI officials vehemently deny the charge.

The Mason-Dixon survey said 88 percent of black voters and 59 percent of whites agree that Republicans are trying to undermine Mr. Street to win the mayor’s office in the fifth-largest U.S. city and help President Bush capture Pennsylvania in the 2004 presidential race.

The poll also showed the city’s electorate divided along racial lines, with 82 percent of blacks supporting Mr. Street and 71 percent of whites favoring Mr. Katz.

The Mason-Dixon survey comes as the two candidates split endorsements by the city’s two daily newspapers, Reuters reports. The Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed Mr. Katz yesterday. The Philadelphia Daily News gave its support to Mr. Street last week.

Lieberman’s pal

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman said Friday that if elected president, he would tap Republican Sen. John McCain as defense secretary.

Doing little to dispel the criticism that he’s a closet Republican, Mr. Lieberman told Don Imus’ syndicated radio program that he would want the Arizona senator, a colleague and a friend, for the Pentagon post.

“If I were president — I’m going to get him into trouble now — but, I’d ask John McCain to be my secretary of defense,” the Connecticut senator said. “I have total trust in him. He’s strong, he’s independent and he’s a hero.”

After initially insisting it was a joke, Mr. Lieberman’s spokesman, Jano Cabrera, conceded his boss was somewhat serious.

But, he added, “Senator Lieberman recognizes that he’s not exactly in a position to be making any Cabinet-level appointments, but if he were elected president, he would be honored to have his friend John McCain serve as secretary of defense or elsewhere in his administration.”

Mr. McCain heard the exchange on his car radio and laughed, the Associated Press reports.

“Senator McCain appreciates his good friend’s tongue-in-cheek offer, but he plans to continue to serve the people of Arizona in the U.S. Senate, working with President Bush in the White House,” said spokesman Marshall Wittmann.

Picking Dean

“They can’t believe they’re actually saying it, but the Bush team really thinks ex-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean will be the Democratic presidential nominee,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“‘We think,’ says one insider, ‘that Dean’s got it wrapped up.’ The Bush political team had a good track record predicting challengers. Just over 13 years ago, then-Bush campaign operative Mary Matalin told us that Bill Clinton would be the Dems’ pick, even as he faced early scandal questions.”

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

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