- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2006

It was all local sports at D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ press conference last week. After congratulating the D.C. Divas women’s full-contact football team for winning the national championship, Mr. Williams set out to make predictions about the Washington Redskins’ upcoming season.

“I think they’ve shored up the defensive line,” Mr. Williams said. “I think we’re in really good shape.”

Mr. Williams said the team will go into the postseason.

“I think they’ll absolutely go to the playoffs; no question about it,” he said. “They’ve made some key personnel adjustments.”

Later during the press conference, Mr. Williams rebutted reports that he had been seen wearing a New York Yankees baseball hat instead of a Washington Nationals cap.

“Typically, baseball teams have a home hat and an away hat. For many baseball teams, the away hat is blue,” Mr. Williams said. “The Nationals away hat is a blue cap. That is the similarity to the Yankees hat, and the only similarity to a Yankees hat.

“I would not wear a New York Yankees hat. The Yankees are the evil empire,” he said.

• Fightin’ words

One of Maryland’s hardest-fought local primary races has taken an ugly turn.

State Sen. Ida G. Ruben, a Montgomery County Democrat seeking re-election, last week distributed a flier that says that her challenger, lawyer Jamie Raskin, is “not even a real Democrat.”

The flier says Mr. Raskin hurt the party by supporting right-wing causes and third-party candidates.

“It’s a complete smear,” said Marlana Valdez, chairwoman of the Raskin campaign. “This is … one of the most negative and deceitful campaign tactics Montgomery County has seen in decades.”

She has demanded an apology from Mrs. Ruben, who serves as the Senate president pro tem and has been a General Assembly member since 1975.

Ruben campaign manager Philip L. Olivetti said an apology will not be forthcoming.

“The campaign has nothing to apologize for,” he said. “The message we put out showed a clear distinction between a real Democrat — Senator Ruben — and [Mr. Raskin’s] record. There is nothing we put out that is incorrect or a misrepresentation.”

The flier faults Mr. Raskin for representing Reform Party candidate H. Ross Perot’s bid to participate in the 1996 presidential debates and independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader in his 2004 fight to get on the ballot in some states.

The literature also notes that Mr. Raskin defended pro-life activists against prosecution under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

• ‘Just go, Joe’

Before last week’s Connecticut primary, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said he hoped that Sen. Joe Lieberman would not run as an independent in the general election if he lost the Democratic primary.

“Politics is a team sport,” Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, said, adding that Mr. Lieberman’s decision to run as an independent would be “deeply divisive.”

“I’m a big Joe Lieberman friend and supporter. I really hope he wins,” said Mr. Kaine, who was state chairman of Mr. Lieberman’s 2004 presidential campaign.

Mr. Lieberman lost the primary to Ned Lamont and has begun an independent campaign.

• Choice words

James H. Webb Jr., the Democratic nominee for one of Virginia’s U.S. Senate seats, last week commended British authorities for thwarting a terrorist plot to blow up planes between England and the United States.

Then he reiterated his belief that the Iraq war is draining military resources that should be used to fight global terrorism.

“The war on terror is global, and we must confront it wherever necessary, with the full array of military options available,” Mr. Webb said. “Winning this war will make America more secure.

“A victory requires a mobile fighting force, one that is capable of responding to threats wherever they emerge. The occupation of Iraq keeps our military locked down in a civil war in the Middle East, and consumes resources that can better be used in the larger fight against global terrorism.”

His opponent, Sen. George Allen, a Republican, also had a few words about the war on terrorism.

“While we have not had any attacks in the U.S. since September 11, 2001, I urge all Americans to remember that we continue to fight a war on terror and that these radical Islamic extremists have attacked us here at home as well as our allies in Spain, the United Kingdom, India, Jordan, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We must remain united and determined to ensure that the only end in this war is that we win, they lose,” he said.

• Feeling the heat

It was a hot day at John H. Downs Memorial Park in Pasadena, Md., where Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley announced his environmental policy.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, said Aug. 7 that if he becomes governor, he will create a new state program to monitor the Chesapeake Bay.

It would be called BayStat and would be similar to the CitiStat management system Mr. O’Malley uses in Baltimore.

It’s part of an attempt by Mr. O’Malley to paint incumbent Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican seeking re-election, as a poor steward of the Bay.

But Mr. Ehrlich’s aides said Mr. O’Malley’s plan would create a new layer of bureaucracy.

And the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said Mr. O’Malley misrepresented its data to blame Mr. Ehrlich for the Bay’s problems.

• Commissioned

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has created a commission that will recommend ways to reform and strengthen health care in Virginia.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, said last week that the Commission on Health Reform will include members from the public and private sectors.

The governor said the panel is necessary because more than 1 million Virginians don’t have health care coverage.

He also noted “growing shortages” of health professionals in all disciplines.

The governor said the commission will hold public hearings and issue a final report to him by September 2007.

The group will work with two General Assembly groups — the Joint Commission on Health Care and the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.

Mr. Kaine said the panel will be led by Virginia Health and Human Resources Secretary Marilyn Taverna. Appointees will be announced in coming weeks, he said.

• Steele vs. Mfume

Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman last week criticized Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele for a comment Mr. Steele made to a national newsmagazine.

U.S. News & World Report posted a story on its Web site about the Maryland Senate race and the possibility of a matchup between two black candidates — Mr. Steele, a Republican, and Democrat Kweisi Mfume.

The magazine, quoting Mr. Steele as saying that if Mr. Mfume is his opponent in November, Maryland voters will have to ask who’s going to better serve them, “[Someone] who represents all the people, or just one particular race?”

Maryland Democrats interpreted that comment as implying that Mr. Mfume, a former congressman and head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, would represent just black voters, while Mr. Steele would represent everyone.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Steele’s campaign and the state Republican Party did not respond directly to questions about what Mr. Steele meant by his comment and whether it was intended as a criticism of Mr. Mfume.

• Attention, shoppers

Maryland Republicans says it’s hypocritical of U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin to attack Wal-Mart while accepting money from Wal-Mart’s political action committee.

Mr. Cardin is one of the Maryland Democrats running this year for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Paul S. Sarbanes.

Federal reports show he received campaign donations from Wal-Mart’s PAC in 2001 and 2003. Campaign expense reports also show purchases made at Wal-Mart.

Mr. Cardin last week appeared at a rally demanding that Wal-Mart change its business practices and improve employee health benefits.

Although Republicans say the appearance was hypocritical, Democrats say the Republicans are trying to avoid a debate about health care and other worker rights.

• On the air

U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin has taken his campaign for the U.S. Senate to the airwaves.

His first television ad began airing last week on four stations in Baltimore. It is a 30-second commercial that focuses on his experience and his vote against the war in Iraq.

Mr. Cardin is the second Democrat in the race to run TV spots. Montgomery County businessman Josh Rales was the first.

Kweisi Mfume, a former congressman and president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has yet to air a television ad.

The Democratic primary is Sept. 12.

• Priorities

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte says that immigration is the nation’s No. 1 domestic issue and that the nation must secure its borders and enforce existing laws.

The Virginia Republican told a business group in Harrisonburg last week that the immigration issue has been building for two decades.

He said it is compounded by the problem of easy-to-get forged documents, which he said “every credit card company knows how to solve” with secure identification.

Mr. Goodlatte said the United States is a nation of immigrants, drawn from all over the world for opportunity. But he added that the United States also is a nation of laws.

The congressman said the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was created to reduce and eventually stop illegal immigration. But Mr. Goodlatte said it was enforced modestly at the outset and is hardly enforced at all today.

• Tick-tock

Residents who intend to vote in the District’s Sept. 12 primary elections have until tonight to get registered.

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is making voter-registration forms available at the Department of Motor Vehicles offices, at the Board of Elections office and through the agency’s Web site.

D.C. voter regulations require that the completed registration form be turned in at the board’s office in One Judiciary Square by 4:45 p.m. today.

Potential voters can mail in the forms as long as they are postmarked before 11:59 tonight.

While would-be voters can fill out registration forms online, they are considered pending until a printed paper form is completed and turned in.

Those forms must be postmarked before midnight to be valid.

• Ferry tale

The plan for a ferry crossing between Crisfield, Md., and Reedville, Va., continues to take shape.

The Maryland-Virginia Ferry Committee met in Annapolis last week with representatives of MetroMarine Holdings.

They discussed the next steps to be considered in the development of a proposed ferry service across the Chesapeake Bay.

A recent economic-impact study indicated the ferry would present a significant opportunity for the tourism and hospitality sector in the region.

Committee members also say a ferry would be another viable Bay crossing.

Committee members say nationwide ferry operator Hornblower Marine Services has expressed interest in the ferry service.

One of the next steps to be pursued is preparation of an environmental-impact study.

• Amy Doolittle, S.A. Miller and Seth McLaughlin contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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