- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Barbour’s decision

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said yesterday that he will not run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 because he is too busy with Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.

Instead, Mr. Barbour, 58, said he intends to seek a second term as governor in 2007.

“There’s no way I could run for president and do what I’ve got to do as governor. And, obviously, being governor comes first,” said the former Republican National Committee chairman, responding to questions from the Associated Press.

Mr. Barbour also dismissed the possibility of a run for vice president in 2008.

“Why would a Republican pick a running mate from Mississippi?” Mr. Barbour said, in his most definitive statement to date about his political future. “If a Republican doesn’t carry Mississippi, he won’t carry five states.”

Months before Katrina struck New Orleans in neighboring Louisiana on Aug. 29, one of Mr. Barbour’s longtime friends and former lobbying partners, Ed Rogers, generated buzz about a possible Barbour presidential run by registering two Web sites — haley2008.com and haleyforpresident.com.

Mr. Barbour defeated Democratic incumbent Ronnie Musgrove in 2003 to become Mississippi’s second Republican governor since Reconstruction.

Scranton quits race

Bill Scranton dropped out of the Pennsylvania governor’s race yesterday after it became clear that Republican Party leaders planned to endorse former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann for the nomination.

Mr. Swann is seeking to become Pennsylvania’s first black governor. Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell is running for a second term in November.

Mr. Swann had locked up more than enough unofficial support to win the endorsement of Republican leaders Saturday. The Republican primary is set for May 16.

Mr. Scranton, a wealthy businessman and former lieutenant governor whose father, William, was governor in the 1960s, said he had doubts about whether he could win over party leaders, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Scranton’s campaign ran into trouble two weeks ago when he fired his campaign manager for saying that Mr. Swann is “the rich white guy in this campaign.” Mr. Scranton is white.

Earthquake ahead

“Far away from the speeches of Jesse Jackson, the demands of Al Sharpton and the ranting of Louis Farrakhan, a quiet revolution is taking place in the role African-Americans play in politics,” New York Post columnist Dick Morris writes.

“In the very heartland of the nation — in Pennsylvania and Ohio — the Republican Party is getting set to nominate black candidates for governor in the coming elections. In a nation that has not a single African-American governor — not one — from either party, this is its own little revolution,” Mr. Morris said.

“These are not throwaway candidates in states where the GOP has no chance of victory. These are real candidates, chosen when there were plenty of white alternatives, that are en route to their party’s nomination, with real chances to win.

“In Pennsylvania, former football great Lynn Swann stands poised to be designated as the Republican candidate at next week’s State Convention. The former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, now enshrined in the Hall of Fame, is seeking fame of another sort, trying to be the state’s first black governor.

“In Ohio, a key swing state, Ken Blackwell, the Republican secretary of state, is running for the gubernatorial nomination in a state Republicans can win. In Maryland, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is seeking the open Senate seat.

“Add these men to the possibility that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might heed Laura Bush‘s advice and run for president, and a revolution may be in the making.”

Bureaucrats go wild

Spending money to send federal officials to AIDS conferences amounts to a taxpayer-funded “spring break” for bureaucrats, a former Bush administration official told the Senate yesterday.

In 2002, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “spent $3.6 million and sent 236 people” to an international AIDS conference in Barcelona, Scott H. Evertz testified yesterday at a Senate subcommittee hearing.

Mr. Evertz was director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy from April 2001 to July 2002, and later served as special assistant to HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. Mr. Evertz described a “jet set ‘conferencing’ lifestyle” among health officials.

“During my tenure at HHS, I witnessed an attitude of entitlement concerning international travel by many bureaucrats and downright arrogance when senior officials attempted to curtail — or even question — the travel of some individuals,” Mr. Evertz told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on federal financial management, government information and international security.

“Some deride this never-ending ‘conferencing’ as ‘spring break,’ since many of the conferences are held in scenic vacation settings,” Mr. Evertz testified. “Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Rio de Janeiro … and Miami … are all recent locations for AIDS conferences.”

Cutting taxes

As North Carolina considers modernizing its tax system, it should cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy to attract more jobs to the state, several political figures and economists said Monday.

Speakers ranging from former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes to Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson voiced support for business tax cuts at the annual Emerging Issues Forum at North Carolina State University, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

“To be blunt, your state income tax is too high,” said Mr. Forbes, a magazine publisher. “You have the highest marginal rate in the Southeast. If you don’t address that problem, you are going to retard future economic growth.”

The forum, organized in each of the past 20 years by former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt, focused this year on an effort to modernize the state’s 1930s-era tax system, which economists say North Carolina has outgrown. The forum drew about 800 people Monday.

A theme running through the two-day conference was the need to reduce North Carolina’s corporate-tax rate and its highest marginal income-tax rate. The corporate tax rate is 6.9 percent, the highest in the Southeast. The state income-tax rate ranges from 6 percent to 8.25 percent.

Mr. Richardson, who is being mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, said cutting taxes has helped fuel New Mexico’s economy.

“You are going to hear this from a Democrat,” Mr. Richardson said. “Cutting taxes is good. Being pro-business is good. Putting more money in people’s pockets is good.”

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

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