- The Washington Times - Friday, June 17, 2005

Romney’s initiative

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will support a citizen-led effort to put a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriages” on a statewide ballot, a spokesman said yesterday.

The proposed initiative also would not allow civil unions for same-sex couples. A separate proposed amendment pending before the legislature would ban homosexual “marriages” but legalize Vermont-style civil unions.

“Governor Romney believes that voters should be given a straightforward amendment to decide the definition of marriage and not one that muddies the water by creating civil unions that would be equivalent of marriage in all respects but name,” said Mr. Romney’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom.

The state’s highest court ruled in November 2003 that the state constitution guaranteed same-sex couples the right to “marry.” The nation’s first state-sanctioned, same-sex “weddings” began taking place May 17, 2004.

However, the legislature in March passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban the “marriages” but allow civil unions. That proposed amendment must be passed in identical form again this year in order to appear on a state ballot in November 2006.

The latest initiative could not appear on a state ballot until November 2008 at the earliest, the Associated Press reports.

Another doubter

Another Democratic state chairman is expressing some misgivings about national committee Chairman Howard Dean’s recent attacks on the Republicans. This time, it is Kerry Donley of Virginia who thinks that the former Vermont governor’s saying a lot of Republicans “have never made an honest living in their lives” is not the way to win over new voters and rebuild the party.

“The Democratic Party has to be more inclusive. To draw such stark distinctions is unfortunate. Governor Dean’s problem may be that he’s new to being a national chairman. There’s probably a learning curve going on here,” Mr. Donley told reporter Donald Lambro of The Washington Times yesterday.

“It’s not in our interests to characterize the Republican Party in such strong terms. We need to show citizens, particularly in those red states, that we’re the party of inclusion and characterizing Republican voters as not being hard-working citizens is problematic for Democrats,” he said.

DeWine’s troubles

Former Ohio state Rep. Jean Schmidt won the Republican primary in the state’s 2nd District Tuesday, beating U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine’s son, Pat DeWine, and raising questions about the senator’s own re-election prospects, the Hill newspaper reports.

The nominee is almost certain to win the Aug. 2 special election in the strongly Republican district in southwestern Ohio, reporter Peter Savodnik said. It was vacated by Rep. Rob Portman earlier this year, after the congressman was tabbed by President Bush to be the U.S. trade representative.

The elder Mr. DeWine, in his second term, faces the voters next year. Until Tuesday, Democrats, who have yet to come up with a candidate to challenge Mr. DeWine, had little to say about the race.

But the senator came under sharp attack from conservatives after he joined 13 other senators last month in helping avert a showdown over judicial nominees.

Straw poll

Richland County, S.C., Democrats held the nation’s first straw poll for the 2008 presidential race Wednesday and the surprise winner was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the State newspaper reports.

“We’re simply delighted,” said Bob Kunst, president of Hillarynow.com, who is traveling the country promoting Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy.

“This should help us in our effort. It gives us a nice boost.”

Mrs. Clinton’s victory at the sparsely attended event was a mild upset, reporter Lee Bandy said. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, a native South Carolinian and last year’s Democratic vice presidential candidate, had been considered the favorite.

Mrs. Clinton got 44 votes to 34 for Mr. Edwards. Virginia Gov. Mark Warner came in third with 32 votes and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware got 24 votes.

Everyone else scored in the single digits.

The straw poll was conducted by the Democratic Party of Richland County, the most Democratic county in South Carolina and the state’s second-most populous.

Drafting Rogan

A group called the Free Enterprise Fund PAC is trying to draft former Rep. James Rogan, California Republican, to run for the House seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Christopher Cox.

Mr. Rogan was a manager of the Senate trial of President Clinton after the House voted to impeach him. However, Mr. Rogan was targeted by Democrats in the next election and was defeated.

Mallory Factor, president and chairman of the PAC, called Mr. Rogan “the right man at the right time” to replace Mr. Cox in the 48th congressional district.

Mr. Cox, who has represented the Orange County district since 1989, has been nominated by President Bush to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Jim Rogan would provide the same kind of energetic leadership Chris Cox has afforded the district,” said Thomas A. Fuentes, the chairman emeritus of the Republican Party of Orange County.

“The possibility of a Rogan candidacy will excite conservatives at the grass roots. They should all loudly second the effort to draft him so that he can again put his enormous talent and intellectual ability to work on behalf of the people of California,” said Mr. Fuentes, who led the county party for 20 years.

Dynamic duo

Improving the way health information is collected, stored and shared brought together the unlikely duo of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The two introduced a bill yesterday that aims to update the nation’s health technology infrastructure, thus saving money and avoiding medical errors.

“This innovative legislation will help launch America’s transition away from outmoded pen-and-pad medicine by encouraging the creation of an interoperable, secure and technology-based system of medical care,” said Mr. Frist, Tennessee Republican, as he introduced the bill at George Washington University Hospital yesterday with Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat.

“This legislation marries technology and quality to create a seamless, efficient health care system for the 21st century,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Joining the dynamic duo in sponsoring the legislation are Sens. Mel Martinez, Florida Republican, Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, Jim Talent, Missouri Republican, and Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat.

The bill would set standards and codify the office of National Coordinator for Information Technology.

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

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