- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

Senate polls

The latest Rasmussen Reports poll on the Senate race in Tennessee shows Republican Bob Corker with a 53 percent to 45 percent lead over Democrat Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr.

The survey of 500 likely voters, conducted Thursday, has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

That result tipped the Tennessee race from “tossup” to “leans Republican” in Rasmussen’s “Senate Balance of Power” analysis, which shows 45 Democrat seats, four “lean Democrat,” 48 Republican and one “lean Republican” seats. Control of the Senate, according to Rasmussen, now depends largely on two remaining “tossup” seats in Missouri and Virginia.

The latest Rasmussen poll in Missouri has Republican Sen. Jim Talent with a 48 percent to 46 percent lead over Democrat Claire McCaskill. In Virginia, Rasmussen shows Republican Sen. George Allen narrowly leading Democrat James H. Webb Jr., 49 percent to 48 percent.

Spelling contest

“In the 22nd District of Texas — Tom DeLay‘s old district — workers for Republican write-in candidate Shelley Sekula Gibbs are handing out pamphlets that warn” in screaming all-capital letters, “don’t let Nick Lampson and his liberal Democrat allies take away your choice this election,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The handout lays out instructions for writing in Gibbs’ name, plus the urgent directive [also in all-caps] ‘Remember on Tuesday November 7, vote for Shelley Sekula Gibbs for U.S. representative twice!

“The twice! part refers to the fact that, to fully support Sekula Gibbs, people who want to vote for her have to first vote for her to finish out the last couple of months of DeLay’s term — she’s on the ballot for that — and then write in her name to vote for her to be the next full-term congressperson from the district,” Mr. York said.

“That’s where things get complicated. The phrase ‘write-in’ is not entirely accurate in this race. In most of the precincts in the 22nd District, voters won’t write anything. Instead, they will work on a machine — called the Hart InterCivic Voting System — in which they will be required to turn a wheel to select letters on a screen.”

Mr. York explained that to vote for Mrs. Sekula Gibbs, voters will have to spell the name correctly, including hitting “space” between all three names and “enter” after every character including the spaces.

“It does not take a prophet to see that there will likely be some irregular entries from people trying to vote for Sekula Gibbs. If the race is close, there will be intense fights over every variation of her name entered into the Hart InterCivic system.

“What will be accepted as a legitimate vote and what won’t? Texas law says only that ‘A vote on an office or measure shall be counted if the voter’s intent is clearly ascertainable … .’ What that will mean in practice is not entirely clear. It seems likely that obvious misspellings of Sekula Gibbs’s name will count, as will short versions like ‘S Gibbs.’ On the other hand, in a close contest, Republicans and Democrats might end up fighting over every vote.”

Connecting dots

“So, less than a week before the midterm elections, four workers from Acorn, the liberal activist group that has registered millions of voters, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter-registration forms to the Kansas City, Missouri, election board. But hey, who needs voter-ID laws?” the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial.

“We wish this were an aberration, but allegations of fraud have tainted Acorn voter drives across the country. Acorn workers have been convicted in Wisconsin and Colorado, and investigations are still under way in Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania,” the newspaper said.

Acorn is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

“The good news for anyone who cares about voter integrity is that the Justice Department finally seems poised to connect these dots, instead of dismissing such revelations as the work of a few yahoos. After the federal indictments were handed up in Kansas City this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement that ‘This national investigation is very much ongoing,’ ” the editorial continued.

“Let’s hope so. Acorn officials bill themselves as nonpartisan community organizers merely interested in giving a voice to minorities and the poor. In reality, Acorn is a union-backed, multimillion-dollar outfit that uses intimidation and other tactics to push for higher minimum-wage mandates and to trash Wal-Mart and other non-union companies.”

Home-grown nuke?

Two leading U.S. nuclear scientists say a team of terrorists with industrial equipment, physics and engineering skills and access to highly enriched uranium could build a crude atomic weapon in the United States for less than $10 million.

Writing in Foreign Policy, the prestigious journal of the Carnegie Endowment, Peter Zimmerman and Jeffrey Lewis add that there is no evidence that al Qaeda or any other terrorist group currently possesses the technical expertise necessary to complete such an effort.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden “perhaps has yet to find his Robert Oppenheimer,” they conclude, referring to the scientist who led the World War II Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb.

The article follows revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies posted on the Web documents from ousted Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons program that include detailed charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy passages about technical challenges.

But some analysts told Shaun Waterman of United Press International that they were deeply skeptical of the Foreign Policy article.

Arms-control specialist Milton Leitenberg of the University of Maryland called the scenario “super-optimistic,” and said the authors had glossed over the difficulty of finding the kinds of highly qualified specialists the project would need.

“How does that kind of organization find those kinds of people, in the real world?” he asked.

Kerry’s dream

“Many months ago, I penned a column asking John Kerry to go away, or at least back to the U.S. Senate to pursue elder statesmanship instead of further national political ambition,” John Brummett writes in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“Alas, he has not done so,” Mr. Brummett said. “So, the Democrats must try to win the midterm elections while carrying Big John on their backs as they endeavor to extract his big foot from his big mouth. I’m not sure they have either the strength or dexterity.

“Apparently Kerry carries the notion that Hillary Clinton won’t run for president or can’t win and that Barack Obama’s bright flame will flicker. Apparently he carries the notion that — Evan Bayh, John Edwards, Wes Clark and Bill Richardson aside — he would then naturally ascend to carry his party’s banner again. … The problem is that there usually are sound reasons a politician loses an election. It’s probably that he’s not a good candidate. That was, and remains, Kerry’s problem.”

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

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