- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Reynolds’ view

The head of the House Republicans’ 2006 election effort said yesterday that the Republican Party faces an uphill battle in Ohio, where scandal has dogged officials from the governor on down.

“Ohio isn’t a pretty picture,” said New York Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Republican Gov. Bob Taft has pleaded no-contest to ethics charges, a rare-coin investment scandal has roiled the state and Republican Rep. Bob Ney is ensnared in the investigation of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Mr. Reynolds insisted that individual House candidates can overcome the problems, the Associated Press reports.

“None of my colleagues on the Republican side are running for governor. They’re running for re-election to Congress,” Mr. Reynolds said, sticking to his mantra that local issues such as taxes, jobs and immigration decide House races, not national issues like the president’s standing and the Iraq war.

Mr. Reynolds predicted none of the nine New York districts now held by Republicans would flip in 2006. Democrats have targeted a handful of those incumbents in upstate New York, particularly Rep. John E. Sweeney.

State races

“Nervous Republicans, eyeing national opinion polls and an energized Democratic base, are seeking to hold on to their narrow majority and the historic gains they’ve made since the early 1990s,” John Hood writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“They are trying mightily to emphasize local matters, though voter interest and media buzz is primarily centering on large-scale issues such as gas prices, immigration, taxes, the minimum wage and government corruption. Meanwhile, Democrats are seeking to make President George W. Bush’s declining popularity into a major advantage, while harnessing Internet-based fundraising and organizational tools to turn left-wing anger into electoral success in November,” said Mr. Hood, a syndicated columnist and resident of the John Locke Foundation, a state-policy think tank in North Carolina.

“Some might see this as an accurate description of the emerging battle for control of the U.S. Congress in 2006, but I am actually talking about the thousands of state legislative contests up for grabs this year. For Republicans, one of the most promising signs of party growth over the past two decades is that success at the federal level has been accompanied by success in state and local elections. To accomplish a true alignment, a party needs to be competitive up and down the ballot.

“Here’s how the numbers stack up as of this writing. There are 99 legislative chambers (Nebraska has a unicameral and nonpartisan legislature). Of the 98 partisan bodies, Republicans hold 49 and Democrats 47. Two chambers, the Iowa Senate and Montana House, are tied. As a whole, Republicans control 20 state legislatures and Democrats 19, with 10 legislatures split between the parties. On the other hand, Democrats enjoy a slight edge in the total number of state lawmakers, at 3,663 to the GOP’s 3,643.”

Younger voters

Seventy-three percent of young adults say they plan to vote in this fall’s elections, according to a poll released yesterday.

The survey of 18- to 30-year-olds clashes with the usual pattern on Election Day, in which the younger the voter, the less likely he is to show up at the polls.

Young adults are concerned about the same issues as older Americans — jobs and the economy, education and energy — according to the poll released by George Washington University’s Young Voter Strategies in collaboration with the GW-Battleground pollsters.

Young Voter Strategies, a project with support from the Pew Charitable Trusts, commissioned the poll. The bipartisan polling team of Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners and Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group conducted the Young Voter GW-Battleground Poll.

The poll surveyed 500 persons between the ages of 18 and 30 from April 27 to May 1.

Pennsylvania vote

Pennsylvania political veteran Bob Casey easily won the Democratic nomination to carry the party’s banner in November against Sen. Rick Santorum, who ran opposed in the Republican primary, the Associated Press reports.

In yesterday’s primary, Mr. Casey cruised past two political newcomers, Philadelphia pension lawyer Alan Sandals and Philadelphia college professor Chuck Pennacchio. With 13 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Casey had 59,278 votes, or 82 percent, compared with 8,024, or 11 percent, for Mr. Sandals, and 4,823, or 7 percent, for Mr. Pennacchio.

Lynn Swann, a former Pittsburgh Steeler football star making his debut in Pennsylvania politics, was unopposed for the Republican nomination for governor. The former football star will face Gov. Edward G. Rendell, who had no opposition on the Democratic side.

Georgia ‘vote’

A Fulton County Superior Court judge yesterday struck down a state constitutional amendment on homosexual “marriage” that was overwhelmingly approved by Georgia voters in 2004, Cox News Service reports.

Judge Constance Russell did not rule on the merits of the amendment, instead saying the state constitution’s “single-subject rule” on referendums overrode the amendment, because the measure required voters to decide on marriage and civil unions in a single amendment.

The decision does not create for homosexuals a right to “marry” in Georgia under state law, as a 2004 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court did.

Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, expressed disappointment about the decision.

“This decision highlights the effect activist judges can have on our system of governance,” the governor said in a statement. “The people of Georgia knew exactly what they were doing when an overwhelming 76 percent voted in support of this constitutional amendment … I am carefully assessing the options to ensure that the will of the people will not be thwarted.”

Neither Mr. Perdue’s office nor the General Assembly’s Republican leadership would be more specific yesterday about how the state legislature’s majority party planned to respond.

A rainy day

Sen. John McCain, a likely 2008 presidential candidate, defended his support for the Iraq war yesterday in a commencement speech at Columbia University in New York, where rain dampened the widely expected protests from student activists.

Echoing remarks he made at Liberty University on Saturday, the Arizona Republican said the Iraq conflict was just, but those who disagreed should say so loudly and forcefully.

“Americans should argue about this war. It has cost the lives of nearly 2,500 of the best of us,” Mr. McCain said. “If an American feels the decision was unwise, then they should state their opposition and argue for another course. It’s your right and your obligation.”

A driving rainstorm forced the 1,064 graduates to listen to the speech shivering under umbrellas or in makeshift raincoats made of trash bags, the Associated Press reports.

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

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