- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bonilla loses

Former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of Texas defeated seven-term Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla in a runoff election yesterday, adding another Democrat to Congress, the Associated Press reports.

The San Antonio Express-News reported that, with all the precincts reporting, Mr. Rodriguez had 38,247 votes (54 percent) to Mr. Bonilla’s 32,165 votes (46 percent).

Mr. Bonilla called his Democratic opponent to concede, said Phil Ricks, the incumbent’s spokesman.

The two men were the top vote-getters Nov. 7, but neither got 50 percent, prompting the runoff in the 23rd District, the state’s physically largest district, stretching from the environs of San Antonio almost to El Paso.

“I thought it would be, in all honesty, would be a lot closer than it was in the end,” Mr. Rodriguez said at his campaign party. “I can assure you I’m going to be reaching out and working with everyone. When you get elected, you represent everyone in the district.”

A strange year

“Every so often, we have a very odd political year. The year 2006 was one of them,” Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“Here’s a little test. Which one of the following things did you expect to happen 12 months ago? Please, be honest,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

• “Democrats would win the Senate

• “Republican Reps. Jim Leach (Iowa), Jeb Bradley (N.H.) and JimRyun (Kan.) would lose in the same election in which Republican Reps. Christopher Shays (Conn.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.) and Heather Wilson (N.M.) would win

• “Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) would find out that he’s Jewish

• “A former Prince George’s County executive and five sitting County Council members — all of them Democrats and all of them black — would endorse the Republican Senate candidate in Maryland, or

• “Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) would announce that he would not run for president in 2008.

“And for good measure, let’s add another development. How many of you figured that a sitting senator would lose his bid for renomination and yet win his campaign for re-election?”

“Like I said, it was a very strange year.”

Mr. Rorschach

“If you love [Sen.] Barack Obama, as almost everybody interested in U.S. politics does right now, ask yourself this simple question: What do you know about his opinions on any subject?” New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.

“You probably remember he gave a masterful speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. You recall how he spoke and that it was he who spoke: a poised and handsome black man with a deep voice that’s reassuring and commanding at the same time.

“But what did he say? Admit it. You don’t really care,” Mr. Podhoretz said.

“Obama is an uncommonly opaque rock-star politician, though not through any fault of his own. … But of the million or so people who’ve bought his books, I’d wager only a tenth have sampled more than a few pages. They don’t need to read Obama to love him. They love that he writes and he publishes. They love how he speaks. They love the fact that he exists. They love the way he makes them feel.

“This is the key to his appeal, and it places Obama in a very unusual position for an elected politician: He is now the semi-official Rorschach Candidate of 2008.”

Off the hook

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not break Senate rules in accepting free ringside seats at boxing matches from the Nevada Athletic Commission, the ethics committee has concluded.

The committee disclosed the determination in a Dec. 7 letter to Las Vegas resident Robert Rose, who had filed a complaint on the matter.

The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, attended three Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 without paying, using credentials provided by the Nevada Athletic Commission, a state agency. Mr. Reid was supporting legislation during this period to create a federal agency to oversee boxing, something the commission opposed.

The legislation passed the Senate, but died in the House. At the time, Mr. Reid defended attending the matches, saying it helped him understand boxing regulations, but he acknowledged it didn’t look right and said he wouldn’t do it again.

Sen. ‘Scalawag’

In the wake of his Nov. 7 loss to Sen.-elect James H. Webb Jr., Virginia Sen. George Allen has picked up the “Scalawag Award” from Southern Partisan magazine.

“Allen, as we now know, is the latest in a long line of Southern politicians which have betrayed their region in a hopeless effort to curry favor with the media elites and the various attack dogs of the uber-partisan left,” the South Carolina-based Confederate heritage magazine said in granting the “honor” to the Virginia Republican. “During the campaign … Allen said he was ‘slow to appreciate’ the feelings of blacks that the Confederate flag is ‘an emblem of hate and terror — intolerance and intimidation.’ He went on to apologize for his former admiration of the Confederate military. …

“Whether all this was based on bad judgment or poor advice, George Allen is nevertheless finished. He has betrayed old friends and didn’t even gain 30 pieces of silver. In the old days, at least some of the more notorious Scalawags ended up wealthy. Poor George. He’s a Scalawag and all he has to show for it is a bag full of ashes.”

Puzzling statistics

“Evaluations of men and women running for House seats in 2006 have turned up disturbing numbers” for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s hopes of winning the Democratic presidential nomination, Thomas B. Edsall writes in the New York Times.

“In the 42 top-tier ‘Red-to-Blue’ races selected by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for intensive financing and support, 25 of the candidates were male and 17 were female. In those contests, male candidates batted .800: 20 victories to five defeats. The women faced higher barriers: three won and 14 lost, batting .176,” said Mr. Edsall, a former writer for The Washington Post who holds the Pulitzer-Moore Chair at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

“This pattern was even more striking in the initial group of ‘Red-to-Blue’ candidates targeted as most promising by the campaign committee. Of the 11 men, nine, or 82 percent, won. Of the 11 women, 10, or 90.1 percent, lost.

“Democratic officials are searching for explanations: A working hypothesis is that female candidates were more vulnerable on the issue of immigration, viewed as more generous with federal aid and amnesty.”

War for oil?

“Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

— President Jimmy Carter, State of the Union Address, Jan. 23, 1980 (cited yesterday at https://tigerhawk.blogspot.com)

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

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