- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Michelman out

Pro-choice activist Kate Michelman won’t be an independent candidate in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.

Despite pressure from abortion-rights supporters, the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America said she would not run in the November election, which likely will feature two candidates who oppose abortion: Democrat Bob Casey Jr. and incumbent Republican Sen. Rick Santorum.

Ms. Michelman, 63, considered entering the race after Mr. Casey said he would have voted to confirm JudgeSamuel A. Alito Jr. for the U.S. Supreme Court. There was fear among many Democrats that Ms. Michelman’s entrance into the race would split the vote in November in Mr. Santorum’s favor, the Associated Press reports.

“Despite profound and fundamental differences, I have decided that Pennsylvania will be better served by electing Bob Casey to the U.S. Senate than giving his opponent another term,” Ms. Michelman wrote in an op-ed piece published in Sunday’s edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I do this knowing that I may forever regret not responding one more time to the clarion call of principle.”

Riley’s resurrection

“Like Rasputin, who refused to die even after he was poisoned, shot three times and beaten with a 2-pound dumbbell, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (R) is proving to be more resilient than many political observers once assumed,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“Riley was pronounced politically dead by many — including me — more than two years ago when a tax increase he proposed and tried to sell to state voters was annihilated at the polls,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“But while two-thirds of voters turned down his proposed $1.2 billion tax deal in September 2003, the governor has bounced back and now leads both his major primary challenger and his likely Democratic opponent in polling.”

Recent polls show Mr. Riley with “a solid lead” over former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, a Republican, as well as leads over Democratic Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley and Democratic former Gov. Don Siegelman, the columnist said.

Fletcher goes home

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher yesterday ended his second hospital stay in less than a month, the Associated Press reports, saying he felt better and has a renewed awareness of the fragility of human life.

“I’m very thankful to go home,” Mr. Fletcher said before leaving St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington. “Saying goodbye and being discharged once is enough. I didn’t anticipate coming back.”

Mr. Fletcher, 53, had been hospitalized since Thursday with a potentially life-threatening blood clot. The first-term Republican governor underwent procedures last week to dissolve the clot and is on blood-thinning medication to prevent another from developing.

Drug plan targeted

A leading Democratic advocacy group is pledging to highlight the problems of President Bush’s new Medicare prescription-drug program and make it the “defining domestic issue” in this year’s midterm elections.

Americans United — the group that led the attack against Mr. Bush’s Social Security plan and the congressional Republicans’ budget last year — now has begun a 22-state effort, attacking the Medicare prescription-drug program that Republican legislators pushed through Congress a few years ago at Mr. Bush’s behest.

The group argues that the new drug plan, which began in January, favors drug companies over senior citizens and “has been plagued by confusion, chaos and corruption.”

“Whether Bush and his allies in Congress are ready for it or not, Americans United intends to make the battle over Part D the defining domestic issue of 2006 — it is that important,” the group said.

In a memo to supporters, Americans United says the program is viewed as a “disaster,” and cites a March Washington Post/ABC poll that found 58 percent of those surveyed disapproved of Mr. Bush’s handling of the prescription-drug issue.

But Republicans aren’t ready to cede any ground. A poll released yesterday, conducted by the Republican pollsters Ayres, McHenry and Associates, found that six out of 10 seniors who signed up for the new drug program say they already are saving money, and more than eight out of 10 report having no problems related to enrollment or use of their new benefits.

The poll found that 65 percent of enrolled seniors say they would recommend that other seniors sign up for the program.

Vote delay sought

The NAACP urged the Justice Department yesterday to block the upcoming New Orleans mayoral election, claiming more must be done to reach displaced city residents, most of whom are black.

Bruce S. Gordon, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, says satellite polling stations should be set up in cities outside Louisiana, especially in Houston and Atlanta, where there are large numbers of displaced New Orleanians.

A federal judge has turned back challenges to the election and pressed state officials to make sure it is held by the end of April. But before the election can take place as scheduled April 22, the Justice Department must give its blessing, possibly by the end of this week.

Primary races for mayor and many other city positions were originally scheduled for Feb. 4 but were pushed back because so many polling stations were destroyed, and election workers and voters were scattered by Hurricane Katrina.

Boycott resumes

Nineteen conservative groups said yesterday that they would reinstate a boycott of Ford Motor Co., contending that the automaker reneged on an agreement to stop supporting homosexual-rights organizations.

The groups set up a Web site urging supporters not to buy Ford vehicles after the automaker said in December that it would continue running advertisements in homosexual publications. The American Family Association, which is leading this latest effort, originally had called for a boycott of Ford last year, but suspended it for six months at the request of some Ford dealers.

“Ford has the right to financially support homosexual groups promoting homosexual marriage, but at the same time consumers have a right not to purchase automobiles made by Ford,” saidAFA Chairman Donald Wildmon.

In December, Ford said it would stop advertising its Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands in homosexual publications to reduce marketing costs. But several homosexual-rights groups raised concerns about the plan and met with the automaker, leading to Ford’s announcement that it would place corporate ads featuring all eight of its brands in homosexual publications.

Other groups joining the boycott include the Center for Reclaiming America, Coalitions for America and the Liberty Counsel, the Associated Press reports.

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

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