- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006

Unhappy Republicans

“A new Gallup poll shows a disturbing trend among the American public. The number of Americans who identify themselves as Republican has declined over the past year, while the number of Independents who lean Democrat has gone up. Message to Republican elected officials and Party leaders: the 2006 elections are at hand, and we must get our act together now,” Bobby Eberle writes at www.gopusa.com.

“In summary, the poll released by Gallup on Wednesday shows that Americans are ‘about as likely to identify as Republicans as they are Democrats.’ However, once tendencies of Independents are factored into the results, ‘the Democrats gain an advantage.’ ”

“The change has been with Republican identification. Fewer people are considering themselves Republican than they did last year,” said Mr. Eberle, who is president and chief executive officer of GOPUSA, a company dedicated to promoting the conservative philosophy through the distribution of political news, information and commentary via the Internet and special events.

“This trend is undoubtedly due to the frustration being felt by grass-roots Republicans at the efforts (or lack thereof) of Republican leaders on key conservative issues. As reported last in an article titled Spending, Immigration Key Concerns for Conservatives, there is a belief among conservatives that Republican leaders are not doing enough to advance the conservative agenda. In areas such as government spending and immigration, conservatives give Republican-led Washington a failing grade.”

No ‘big deal’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, yesterday downplayed reports that a member of her caucus had slugged a U.S. Capitol Police officer Wednesday after he stopped her to ask for identification, saying people should “not make a big deal” of the altercation.

Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, Georgia Democrat, wasn’t wearing the pin that identifies her as a member of Congress when she bypassed one of the metal detectors set up at the entrances to all the buildings around the Capitol. When the officer chased her down, she reportedly hit him with her cell phone.

Mrs. Pelosi described the incident as “an unfortunate lack of recognition of a member of Congress.”

When asked whether she thought it was the officer’s fault, Mrs. Pelosi said she did not.

“I can understand that,” she said. “I can also understand that members who have been here a long time sense they are recognizable. But I would not make a big deal of this.”

Wondered Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert: “How many officers would have to be punched before it becomes a big deal? While we are working hard to give law enforcement the tools they need to do their jobs, Democratic members are fighting them on the job.”

On the ballot

A last-ditch effort to prevent Michigan voters from considering a proposal that would ban some affirmative-action programs has failed.

The Michigan Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of the case, meaning the issue will be allowed on the November ballot.

“We are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court,” the justices said in the order, issued Wednesday.

The decision is a victory for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), which has been leading the drive to let voters decide whether government and university admissions programs should be banned from giving preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

An opposition group called By Any Means Necessary had urged the Supreme Court to take up the issue. The pro-affirmative action group disagrees with allowing the phrase “preferential treatment” to appear on the ballot.

Arkansas contest

Former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson filed papers to officially enter the Arkansas governor’s race, setting up a head-to-head contest with Democratic state Attorney General Mike Beebe.

Mr. Hutchinson, 55, said Wednesday that the top priority of his campaign would be to bring more and better-paying jobs to Arkansas, and that he also wants to focus on tax reform.

Mr. Beebe, 59, the only Democrat running for governor, said when he filed papers Tuesday that he would focus on health care, education and jobs. He has raised nearly $2.75 million, compared with $1.26 million raised by Mr. Hutchinson, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Hutchinson, the only Republican running for the office, avoided a primary opponent last year when Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller dropped out of the race for health reasons.

Not a spoiler

Tom Rooney, nephew of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, said Wednesday that he won’t challenge Rep. Katherine Harris for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from Florida.

Mr. Rooney, a lawyer in Jupiter, Fla., said the decision was not based on Mrs. Harris’ recent decision to use $10 million of her own money to stay in the race.

But he said that it had become clear to him that he didn’t have time to establish viable challenge, and that he wasn’t interested in “playing spoiler for somebody or just running to lose.”

The departure of Mr. Rooney, 35, leaves the Republican Party with Mrs. Harris as its lone candidate, the Associated Press reports.

Ryun’s denial

Rep. Jim Ryun on Wednesday denied accusations by Democrats that he received a “sweet real estate deal” when he purchased a town house from a nonprofit group with connections to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The Kansas Republican bought the historic Capitol Hill town house for $410,000 on Dec. 15, 2000. That was $19,000 less than the U.S. Family Network paid for the home in January 1999, despite a sharp rise in local real estate values during that time.

Mr. Ryun declined to be interviewed but said in a written statement that he paid “fair market value” for the home, the Associated Press reports.

Green candidate

Almost two years after the videotaped beheading of U.S. contractor Nick Berg in Iraq, his father is running a third-party race for Congress on a platform seeking a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Michael Berg, a veteran anti-war activist and retired schoolteacher who campaigns in jeans and a T-shirt, is the Green Party candidate for the Delaware seat of seven-term Republican Rep. Michael N. Castle.

Mr. Berg, 61, says his late entry into politics is a result of his son’s grisly death at the hands of hooded captors in May 2004. The event brought the elder Berg worldwide media attention, especially after he publicly blamed President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

“Other than stopping this war, I have no political ambitions,” Mr. Berg told Reuters news agency. “Let’s face it — I would not be running if my son had not died in Iraq. People would not have known my name, and the Green Party would not have asked me to run.”

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

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