- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

Kentucky outlook

“Unless voters in Kentucky’s 6th District suddenly have a change of heart, the Republicans are headed for a rocky Feb. 17 special election in the Lexington-area House district,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“Former two-term state Attorney General Ben Chandler [a Democrat], not state Rep. Alice Forgy Kerr [a Republican], has the advantage in the final days before the election,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“This isn’t exactly what Republicans expected to happen when the seat became open, following Republican Ernie Fletcher’s election as governor in November.

“GOP strategists planned to make the special election a referendum on a popular president and a contrast of ideologies in a conservative district. That way, they figured they could elect Kerr to Congress, even though the district has a Democratic registration advantage and is politically competitive.

“But, instead of being an unadulterated asset, the president is proving to be more a mixed blessing, and Kerr and the Republicans are struggling, at least so far, to convince voters that the race presents a stark choice between a liberal and a conservative.”

Disenfranchised?

Some Detroit political leaders charge that the Michigan Democratic Party disenfranchised black voters in Saturday’s presidential caucuses.

Confusion over the location of caucus sites in Detroit deterred people from voting and forced the state Democratic Party to extend polling hours in the city, angering Detroit voters and political leaders, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The Rev. Horace Sheffield III, who worked on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s campaign, said he was assembling a coalition to go to court to get a federal injunction to overturn the results of the caucuses.

“The Michigan Democratic Party knows unequivocally that voters were disenfranchised in Detroit, Southfield and other areas,” said Derrick Alpert, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party’s black caucus.

Kerry’s record

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial, notes that likely Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry recently disparaged President Bush’s service in the National Guard during the Vietnam War, likening it to draft-dodging.

“The far more intriguing story here is why Mr. Kerry is playing this Vietnam-service card. This is the same John Kerry who declared in 1992 that Bill Clinton’s draft-avoidance record should be out of political bounds. His precise words, defending Mr. Clinton against an attack from fellow Democrat Bob Kerrey at the time, were that ‘We do not need to divide America over who served and how.’ Why does he now want to assail Mr. Bush for service that was far more extensive than Mr. Clinton’s?” the newspaper asked

“The transparent answer is that the Senator is trying to use his Vietnam biography as a political shield against his national-security voting record. …

“We rather doubt this gambit will work, and it shouldn’t. A candidate’s service history is one window on his character, but far more important is his judgment on the major security issues of his time. In Mr. Kerry’s case, he has taken the dovish side of nearly every foreign-policy debate since he entered public life.

“After fighting in Vietnam, he returned to lead the protests against that war and urge the U.S. withdrawal that turned Indochina over to Communist rule for a generation. He was in favor of the nuclear freeze movement in the 1980s that would have frozen the Cold War in place with a Soviet advantage. He denounced the invasion of Grenada in 1983, though he now cites it as an example of a use of force he favors. He also opposed U.S. support for anti-Communist movements in Central America in the 1980s that helped bring democracy to Nicaragua and elsewhere.

“These policy instincts have held even after the Soviet collapse vindicated the Ronald Reagan strategy that Mr. Kerry opposed. The senator voted against the first Gulf War, arguing that Saddam Hussein could be contained without force. But in 2002, he voted to give this President Bush the power to disarm Saddam, only to oppose a year later the $87 billion to finish the job. We’d argue that these votes say more about the policies and judgment of a future President Kerry than does his Navy career.”

Pelosi PAC fined

A fund-raising committee run by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been fined $21,000 for improperly accepting donations over federal limits.

The political action committee, Team Majority, was one of two PACs that Mrs. Pelosi used to support candidates during the 2002 campaign. She stopped raising and donating money through the committee more than a year ago, after complaints that she was using the multiple PACs improperly to exceed limits.

The fine, paid in October, was reported in Team Majority’s year-end campaign finance records, released recently. The case still is open, and the Federal Election Commission would not comment, the Associated Press reports.

The fine first was reported yesterday by Roll Call.

Judge renominated

President Bush has resubmitted the nomination of Charles Pickering to a federal appeals court for Senate approval, United Press International reports.

Although Mr. Bush on Jan. 16 gave Judge Pickering a recess appointment to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, without Senate approval he only will be allowed to serve on the bench until the current congressional session ends.

Judge Pickering is one of a half-dozen Bush appellate court nominees blocked by Democratic filibusters.

Spokesman testifies

President Bush’s press secretary said yesterday he had testified before a federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA undercover officer’s identity.

Scott McClellan told reporters that he appeared before the panel in Washington last week.

“I’m doing my part to cooperate, as the president directed all of us to do,” Mr. McClellan said aboard Air Force One during Mr. Bush’s trip to Springfield, Mo., the Associated Press reports.

The Justice Department is trying to determine who leaked the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame to syndicated columnist Robert Novak in July.

Mrs. Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, contends the disclosure might have been intended to discredit his assertions that the Bush administration exaggerated Iraq’s nuclear capabilities to build a case for war.

Court salutes

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford may continue to serve in the Air Force Reserve, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday in throwing out a lawsuit claiming the governor was violating the state constitution.

Mr. Sanford’s tenure as governor was challenged by Edward Sloan Jr., a retired businessman and self-described government watchdog who said the constitution allows the state’s top officer to serve in and command only a state militia.

The court, which heard arguments in December, ruled unanimously that the term “militia” includes the modern reserves.

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

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