- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

Left-wing apology

“Some on the left just can’t get past the inmate abuses of the Abu Ghraib prison affair, but there’s hope their suffering might end soon,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Inspired by the success of outraged online groups like MoveOn.org, a new Internet concern chaired by an experienced antiwar activist plans to splash into public with an apology ad on Arab TV’s Al Jazeera featuring American religious figures,” Mr. Bedard said.

“‘As Americans of faith, we express our deep sorrow at the abuses committed in Iraqi prisons,’ says the ad from the liberal Christian group FaithfulAmerica.org. It’s their first project and is set to air in two weeks. Peacenik and Chairman William Sloane Coffin says FaithfulAmerica.org was created to loosen the right’s grip on religion-inspired voters. ‘For the Christian right, the important issues are opposing abortion and gay and lesbian rights,’ he tells our Dan Gilgoff. ‘They don’t talk about peace.’

President Bush will remember this Christian: As a Yale chaplain, he told the freshman Bush that his dad, George H.W. Bush, had just lost his Texas congressional race to ‘a better man,’ a snub the prez has never forgotten.”

Coors vs. Coors

Coors Brewing Co. distanced itself last week from its former chairman, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Peter Coors, saying his support for a constitutional ban on homosexual “marriage” does not reflect the company’s position.

Leo Kiely, the brewing company’s chief executive, said the company does not support discrimination against homosexuals through legislation or otherwise.

Mr. Coors said during a primary debate that he agreed with the proposed amendment as currently written.

The company was once the target of a boycott by homosexuals because it required job applicants to take a polygraph test that included questions about sexual beliefs. The company is now considered a model for recruiting homosexual workers and offers same-sex-partner benefits, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Coors has taken credit for the change and said he promoted the beer personally in homosexual bars.

Montana battle

In Montana, where Republicans have had a lock on the governor’s office for 16 years, two contrasting primary candidates are in a nasty neck-and-neck battle to keep that streak alive.

The race, one of 11 gubernatorial contests nationally this year, is packed with seven candidates on tomorrow’s primary ballot, but the fight between Republicans Bob Brown and Pat Davison has grabbed most of the attention, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Brown, described by the AP as a moderate completing one term as secretary of state after more than two decades in the legislature, hopes his Republican ties and long government service will help land him in the governor’s chair. Mr. Davison, a business consultant in his first political race, advertises himself as a “fresh voice” and appeals to the party’s conservative wing with calls for tax cuts and less government.

“It’s a battle for the primary, but also a battle for the heart and soul of the Montana Republican Party between the more conservative faction and the more moderate,” said Craig Wilson, who heads the political science department at Montana State University at Billings.

The winner will likely face Democrat Brian Schweitzer in the general election. A recent poll showed the northwestern Montana farmer, who made his political mark in 2000 by coming within four points of defeating Republican Sen. Conrad Burns, has a big lead over his Democratic primary opponent.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Davison want to succeed Republican Gov. Judy Martz, the state’s first female governor, who decided against seeking re-election after a first term beset by missteps and low marks from voters.

House welcome

Brief doesn’t begin to describe Rep. Stephanie Herseth’s political honeymoon, Associated Press reporter David Espo writes.

In the space of less than 36 hours, the South Dakota Democrat narrowly won her seat in Congress, flew to Washington to take the oath of office, made her first speech on the House floor and cast her first vote.

And she was sharply attacked by Republicans eager to dethrone her in November.

“It’s sad to say, but with her very first vote, we see Stephanie is more concerned with appeasing the liberals who got her elected than delivering needed help for South Dakotans,” said Carl Forti, a spokesman for the campaign arm of House Republicans.

Larry Diedrich and his friends are trying to distort Stephanie’s record before the ink is dry,” shot back Russ Levsen, Miss Herseth’s spokesman, referring to the Republican she defeated in the election. “You’d think they’d give South Dakotans a break from the negative political attacks, but instead they are back at it just hours after she was sworn in.”

Miss Herseth cast her first vote against administration-backed legislation that would give eligible unemployed workers up to $3,000 for use on job training and other services that might help them find work.

The measure passed 213-203 over the opposition of most Democrats, who said it did little to address larger unemployment problems.

Allen’s exception

With a few exceptions, party campaign committees and their chairmen don’t intervene in primary battles, preferring to let the rank and file decide the candidate for fall campaigns.

But Sen. George Allen, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is making an exception in the case of Florida senatorial contender Mel Martinez. Mr. Allen intends to declare his support today for the former federal housing secretary, the Associated Press reports.

While Mr. Allen plans to contribute to Mr. Martinez’s campaign and may campaign for him, the NRSC intends to remain neutral, a spokesman said. “Sen. Allen’s support for Martinez does not indicate that the NRSC will spend resources on Martinez’s behalf in the primary,” Dan Allen said.

Mr. Martinez trails former Republican Rep. Bill McCollum in the polls before an August primary that has drawn several contenders. The incumbent, Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, is retiring at the end of the term.

The Cuban-born Mr. Martinez was recruited heavily this year by the White House as well as by Mr. Allen, with party leaders eager for a Hispanic on the ballot to attract voters who might also support the re-election of President Bush.

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

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