- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Hahn survives

Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn survived a close call, making it into a May runoff against a Hispanic city council member after the third-place mayoral candidate conceded defeat yesterday.

The outcome of Tuesday’s primary election sets up a rematch of the 2001 runoff, pitting Mr. Hahn, who has been weakened by corruption charges and other problems, against council member Antonio Villaraigosa, who is seeking to become the first Hispanic to win the mayoralty in the nation’s second-largest city in more than a century.

Nearly 24,000 absentee and other ballots remained to be counted, but candidate Bob Hertzberg trailed second-place Mr. Hahn by about 5,800 votes, a margin his campaign concluded was too great.

“I called Mayor Hahn this morning and congratulated him on his victory,” Mr. Hertzberg said during a morning press conference.

Delayed because of foggy weather, the vote tally continued into early yesterday.

In 2001, Mr. Villaraigosa, a high school dropout who went on to become speaker of the California Assembly, was also the top vote-getter in the primary, but he lost the runoff to Mr. Hahn, 53 percent to 46 percent.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Villaraigosa led with 124,561 votes, or 33 percent.

The mayor tallied 89,189 votes, or 24 percent, while Mr. Hertzberg, also a former Assembly speaker, had 83,420 votes, or 22 percent.

Mr. Villaraigosa would have had to get more than 50 percent to have won the election outright.

Not worried

A relaxedformer President Bill Clinton hit the golf course yesterday for a charity event for tsunami victims, joking about his game and saying he was not worried about his impending surgery.

Mr. Clinton went golfing in Hobe Sound, Fla., with former President George Bush a day before he was to check himself into a hospital for a low-risk operation to remove a buildup of fluid and scar tissue pressing on his left lung — a rare complication from his heart-bypass surgery six months ago.

“I’ve had an unusual life. If something happens — if I get struck by lightning on the golf course today — I’d wind up ahead of where 99.99 percent of the people that ever lived,” he said. “I’m just grateful for every day when the sun comes up. But it is not a dangerous procedure, unless something totally unpredictable happens.”

Mr. Clinton said he knew he needed the operation before he and Mr. Bush embarked on a tour of tsunami-ravaged countries last month, and that he scheduled it around the trip and the golf event, which was expected to raise about $2 million for tsunami victims, the Associated Press reports.

About 70 golfers paid $30,000 each in the tournament at Medalist Golf Club, about 100 miles north of Miami. The event was organized by golfer Greg Norman, a longtime friend of Mr. Clinton’s.

Matsui’s victory

Sounding themes familiar from her late husband’s 14 congressional campaigns, Doris Matsui handily won a special election in California to fill the remainder of his term and will become the newest member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

With all precincts reporting Tuesday, Mrs. Matsui had nearly 72 percent of the overall vote and 88 percent among Democrats in a race marked by low turnout. She is expected to be sworn in today.

Mrs. Matsui, a lobbyist and former Clinton White House official, completed what her television ads called a “uniquely Sacramento story.” Succeeding her husband, the late U.S. Rep. Robert T. Matsui, she becomes the nation’s 45th congressional widow since 1923 to assume the seat of her spouse. She is the third to win in California under such circumstances since 1998.

“It feels bittersweet, but my heart is full of hope and promise,” said Mrs. Matsui, minutes after giving a victory speech. “This was a time when most of us wish we didn’t have to be here, but that was not the way it was going to be.”

Mr. Matsui, who represented the Sacramento-area 5th Congressional District for 26 years, died Jan. 1 at Bethesda Naval Hospital of complications from a rare bone-marrow disease.

New chief

The Human Rights Campaign announced yesterday that Joe Solmonese, the homosexual chief executive officer of the women’s electoral advocacy group Emily’s List, has been selected as HRC’s new president.

The decision to choose Mr. Solmonese, 40, ends a three-month search to replace Cheryl Jacques, who resigned as HRC president in December after holding the position for less than a year, according to the Blade, a Washington newspaper that caters to homosexuals.

Vic Basile, an HRC board member and co-chairman of a search committee, said Mr. Solmonese would begin April 11 with an annual salary of $225,000, a figure Mr. Basile called “the standard in the industry” for the kind of legislative and political campaign work that comes with the job.

Meanwhile, blogger Michael Petrelis, writing at https://mpetrelis.blogspot.com, said he “wasn’t the least bit surprised” that all of Mr. Solmonese’s donations since 1992 have been to Democratic candidates and political action committees closely affiliated with the Democratic Party.

“But what was amusing was seeing that Solmonese had donated twice to his predecessor at HRC — Cheryl Jacques!” Mr. Petrelis said.

“Maybe he should call her up and ask for advice on how to avoid becoming a failed executive director of a gay and lesbian political action group.

“Considering his strong Democratic leanings and donations, it will be fascinating to watch Solmonese reach out to work with the GOP, Greens and independent voters and politicians.”

Thompson’s jobs

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson is moving to the private sector after nearly four decades in politics and government.

He is joining a law firm as partner and an accounting firm as senior adviser, where he will focus on clients in the health care industry and the public sector, the companies announced yesterday.

He has also been named president of La Crosse, Wis.-based Logistics Health Inc., a provider of medical readiness and homeland security solutions.

Mr. Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor who resigned from his Cabinet position in December, will be a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and a senior adviser at the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche USA, where he will help establish its Center for Health Care Management and Transformation in Washington, the Associated Press reports.

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

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