- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Weldon’s decision

Rep. Dave Weldon, Florida Republican, says he will not seek Democrat Bob Graham’s U.S. Senate seat.

Mr. Weldon’s announcement, made by e-mail to supporters, comes on the heels of Mr. Graham’s announcement Monday ending his bid for the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nomination.

In the e-mail, Mr. Weldon cited his responsibilities as a member of the House Appropriations Committee as one reason he will seek re-election to the House seat he has held since 1994, United Press International reported.

Mr. Weldon also said his “duties as a dad have proven to be hard to set aside” while making the decision whether to seek the Senate nomination. Republicans still in that race include state Sen. Danny Webster, House Speaker Johnnie Byrd and former Rep. Bill McCollum, who lost his bid for the Senate in 2000 to Democrat Bill Nelson.

On second thought…

Five Democratic presidential hopefuls plan to attend a South Carolina NAACP forum after the civil rights group’s leaders expressed frustration over initial acceptances from just two candidates.

“If they really want their people to know where they stand on certain issues, they should be there,” state NAACP President James Gallman said of the forum.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Wesley Clark were the only candidates in the nine-way field who have not yet accepted an invitation to Friday’s round-table discussion on minority issues, scheduled one day after a Democratic presidential debate in Phoenix.

As of last Friday, only former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and the Rev. Al Sharpton — the two black candidates — had planned to attend, upsetting leaders of the civil rights group. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri changed their schedules and promised to attend the forum being held just over the state line in Charlotte, N.C.

The South Carolina NAACP selected the location because of its economic boycott of the state owing to the Confederate flag that continues to fly on Statehouse grounds. South Carolina holds its primary Feb. 3, and blacks could make up a majority of the voters.

Mr. Kerry is scheduled to campaign in New Hampshire Friday. Mr. Dean plans to attend parents’ weekend with his daughter at college. Mr. Clark will be on the West Coast, his campaign said.

It was not immediately known if Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio plans to attend the forum.

Another Mack

Florida state Rep. Connie Mack IV said Monday he’s moving back to southwest Florida to run for the congressional seat once held by his father, a newspaper reported.

Mr. Mack, a Republican, told the News-Press of Fort Myers that he planned to make a public announcement yesterday. Mr. Mack, 36, said he’s buying a house in the district that includes Lee County and parts of Collier and Charlotte counties.

He was first elected to his state House seat in 2000, and said he will resign that post.

Mr. Mack is pursuing the House seat of Republican Rep. Porter J. Goss, who plans to retire when his term ends next fall.

Mr. Goss was elected to the post in 1988, after the senior Mack, who was first elected to the House in 1982, moved to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 2000.

Among those already in the race is Republican Lee County Commissioner Andy Coy.

Other Republicans considering the race include Lee County Commissioner Doug St. Cerny, state Sen. Burt Saunders and state Rep. Carole Green, the Associated Press reported.

Cain’s candidacy

Herman Cain, the chairman of Godfather’s Pizza, doesn’t like having his name left off the list of Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls in Georgia, which happened last week in an Associated Press dispatch cited in this column.

“The campaign is going fantastic,” Mr. Cain said yesterday.

He is up against two Republican members of Congress, Mac Collins and Johnny Isakson, who have higher name recognition, Mr. Cain said. But while being in Congress has its advantages, he added, it also means they must spend time out of state while Mr. Cain is at home campaigning.

“One of the big reasons I’m running is too many people have given up on government,” said Mr. Cain, whose No. 1 issue is changing the tax code.

“I’m not a tax-code reformer,” he said. “I’m a tax-code changer.” Mr. Cain advocates junking the federal income tax and replacing it with a consumption tax — in effect, a national sales tax.

Mr. Cain is chairman and president of the Tax Leadership Council, the public education arm of Americans for Fair Taxation. He hopes to replace Democratic Sen. Zell Miller, who is retiring.

Edwards vs. Clark

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards is dumping on Wesley Clark, the newest entrant in the party’s presidential-nomination race.

Mr. Edwards, of North Carolina, was campaigning in New Hampshire on Monday and used the occasion to criticize Mr. Clark’s past praise of President Bush. However, Mr. Edwards professed to be unconcerned about the former NATO commander’s White House bid, Reuters reported.

Mr. Edwards joined several Democratic rivals, including former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, in calling attention to Mr. Clark’s praise of Mr. Bush at a Republican fund-raiser in Arkansas in 2001.

“When a lot of us were fighting hard against the policies of the Bush administration that have done so much damage, that’s when these statements were made, and I disagree with them very strongly,” Mr. Edwards told Reuters in an interview between campaign stops.

Mr. Clark’s campaign responded that in the absence of a real message, Mr. Edwards “is left with little except attacks on other Democrats.”

“This is more of the same for Sen. Edwards, who lacks a positive message about the future,” Clark spokesman Mark Fabiani said in a statement.

Mr. Edwards, a former trial lawyer, brushed aside suggestions he had fallen behind the retired Army general in the race for votes and for cash.

“Let me know when he’s raised $15 million. He’s a little ways away from that,” the senator chuckled, adding he was leading Mr. Clark in at least two early battleground states. However, polls show Mr. Edwards trailing Mr. Clark in New Hampshire.

Correction

An item in yesterday’s column incorrectly stated that planned protests by a New York AIDS advocacy group at the 2004 Republican National Convention were funded by “tax dollars.”

Michael Kink, legislative counsel for Housing Works, writes: “Housing Works received $3.919 [million] in government contracts out of $26 million in total revenues last year, and that government funding was used solely to provide housing, services and medical care for homeless and formerly homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. We don’t use a dime of taxpayer money to carry out our vigorous AIDS advocacy.”

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

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