- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 9, 2005

An untold story

Sometimes a little-known person can change the course of history, which appears to be the case with Erwin “Swede” Huelsewede, who last week told his story to Inside Politics.

Mr. Huelsewede, who served almost 33 years in the Air Force, was in charge of the military absentee-voter initiative forthen-Texas Gov. George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign. In July, Mr. Huelsewede presented the Pentagon with a Freedom of Information Act request: the names of all military voters in all states and territories of the United States, including their military addresses and U.S. addresses for voting purposes.

At the end of August, Mr. Huelsewede got what he wanted: a computer disk containing the names and addresses of 811,577 active-duty personnel and 718,190 Reserve and National Guard forces. He paid the $154 fee himself.

Mr. Huelsewede’s plan was to send letters to the more than 1.5 million people on the disk, reminding them to register to vote and ask for an absentee ballot if necessary — and urging them to vote for Mr. Bush.

But he ran into a roadblock. His contact in the Bush campaign thought the effort would be a waste of time.

So “Swede” went to the Republican National Committee, where he was told that such a mailing would cost $1.5 million — money that was not in the budget. However, Mr. Huelsewede pressed his case, and the RNC called back to say it would finance the project.

Mr. Bush, of course, went on to win Florida — and the presidency — by 537 votes. And absentee military ballots made the difference.

“I feel it is part of history, and people should know about it,” Mr. Huelsewede said. “It is part of the history of the United States in how we elected our president in 2000. At this point, not even Karl Rove, or President Bush or Dick Cheney know the details about how we went after these absentee military voters.”

Reed’s job?

Ralph Reed, executive director at the Christian Coalition from 1989 to 1997 and a favorite of the White House, is “strongly considering” a run for Georgia lieutenant governor next year, Republican friends of Mr. Reed from the state tell The Washington Times.

News of a possible run by Mr. Reed was the talk of receptions in Washington for members of Georgia’s congressional delegation before their swearing-in ceremonies last week.

“Ralph didn’t deny he would run when a bunch of us told him we were excited about his decision and congratulated him,” a Reed friend who had attended one of the receptions told reporter Ralph Z. Hallow.

Others present confirmed that Mr. Reed did not deny he would run. He did not return telephone calls yesterday.

Mr. Reed, who has not spoken openly about his political intentions, was elected to a two-year term as Georgia Republican Party chairman in 2001 but did not seek re-election, instead becoming Southeast regional chairman for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign.

As state party chairman, Mr. Reed helped elect Saxby Chambliss to the U.S. Senate and Sonny Perdue to the governorship, the first Republican victory for that post since Reconstruction.

The current lieutenant governor is Democrat Mark Taylor.

Emanuel’s job

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat and a top adviser to President Clinton, will lead the campaign arm of House Democrats.

Mr. Emanuel’s selection to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was announced yesterday by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

“Rahm is a master strategist with the expertise and passion to build on the foundation that our dear friend Bob Matsui built during the last two years,” said Mrs. Pelosi, referring to the late congressman from California.

Wooing South

Seven candidates for chairman of the Democratic National Committee promised Saturday to address the concerns of Southern voters, saying they had learned the lessons of the past two elections.

“You want to know my Southern strategy? Show up,” said Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who dropped out of the presidential race during the Democratic primaries last year.

Mr. Dean and the other candidates seeking to replace Terry McAuliffe as the face of the Democratic Party spoke before an audience at College Park, Ga., the first of several regional caucuses to give party officials a chance to hear from the hopefuls.

“You can’t compete in just 19 or 20 states,” said former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, another candidate. “You get better odds in Las Vegas than with that program.”

The chairman’s job will be filled next month when the Democratic National Committee holds its winter meeting.

Also running for the spot are former Texas Rep. Martin Frost, Democratic strategist Donnie Fowler, former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Leland and Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democrat Network.

“It’s not just about spending more money,” Mr. Rosenberg told the Associated Press before the forum. “Money also needs to have strategy.”

Gingrich’s future

Newt Gingrich is taking steps toward a potential presidential bid in 2008 with a book criticizing President Bush’s policies on Iraq and a tour of early campaign states.

The former House speaker, who led Republicans to power a decade ago, said he soon will visit Iowa and New Hampshire to promote his book, try to influence public policy and keep his political options alive.

“Anything seems possible,” including a White House race, Mr. Gingrich told Associated Press reporter Ron Fournier.

The quotable former Georgia congressman, who runs a consulting firm in Washington, is promoting, “Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America.” He seemed to welcome the thought that a book tour will increase speculation about his political aspirations.

“It never hurts to maximize opportunities. That’s the American tradition,” Mr. Gingrich said. “If I can influence the reporters and political activists in Iowa and New Hampshire, they will influence the candidates.”

Mfume charge

Kweisi Mfume stepped down from the presidency of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Jan. 1, citing personal reasons.

But on its Web site last night, Time magazine reported that Mr. Mfume left involuntarily, with the NAACP executive committee voting against renewing his contract.

Sources close to the organization told Time that the panel made the decision because of nepotism accusations. The charges came to a head when Mr. Mfume reportedly appointed his son’s girlfriend as director of corporate and foundation development in June 2003.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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