- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

Democrats cry foul

Democrats in Texas have accused a Republican candidate of illegally campaigning inside a polling place, the Associated Press reports.

Houston City Council member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is a Republican write-in candidate for former Rep. Tom DeLay‘s seat in the Houston suburbs.

Chad Dunn, general counsel for the Texas Democratic Party, said Democratic poll watcher Jane Borden Matcha watched Thursday as Mrs. Sekula-Gibbs purportedly wandered through an early-voting location at First Colony Conference Center in Sugar Land and introduced herself to voters.

“She committed a crime yesterday by campaigning within a polling location,” Mr. Dunn said.

Democrats said Miss Matcha signed an affidavit and planned to ask the Fort Bend County Attorney’s Office to prosecute.

Mrs. Sekula-Gibbs acknowledged visiting the polling location to campaign Thursday, but said she stayed at least 100 feet from the door, as required by law. She went inside briefly to use the restroom, she said, and inquired about voter turnout.

“I just said to the person there, ‘I’m Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. How’s turnout?’ ” she said. “I did not approach any voters. I was not campaigning, and once again [Democrat candidate] Nick Lampson is attacking me because he’s afraid to tell the voters about his stands on the issues. They’re just using this as a distraction.”

According to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports, Mr. Lampson had $1.1 million cash on hand to Mrs. Sekula-Gibbs’s $163,000. Libertarian candidate Bob Smith had $23,000.

Mitt’s meetings

“They probably feel a bit out of place, but we hear that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is inviting conservatives — and especially Christian conservatives — to Beantown for ‘cultivational’ meetings and briefings on his 2008 Republican presidential campaign,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Insiders say it’s just like those treks to Austin many conservatives made to visit with George W. Bush before his run in 2000. If you think the Christian right would have a problem with a Mormon, you would be wrong. We hear he’s wowing them, just as he did last month when he spoke at the Family Research Council’s ‘Liberty Sunday’ on protecting traditional marriage.”

Jersey’s lawgivers

“This [past] week’s New Jersey Supreme Court’s judicial diktat on same-sex-somethings (name to be determined later) is a remarkable arrogation of power by the judiciary,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“The court’s belief that it is empowered to embark on social experimentation in the field of marriage is embodied in the words — “We have decided that our State Constitution guarantees that every statutory right and benefit conferred to heterosexual couple through civil marriage must be made available to committed same-sex couples … (our emphasis),” the newspaper said.

“Along its merry way, the decision does strive for a semblance of humility and rigor, perhaps out of a troubled conscience about judicial overreach. ‘The great engine for social change in this country has always been the democratic process,’ the court avers. The justices also quote a lower-court ruling to the effect that ‘a constitution is not simply an empty receptacle into which judges may pour their own conceptions of evolving social mores.’

“That this is disingenuous, however, is made plain by the fact that the justices are willing to trust ‘the democratic process’ only with the semantic question of what to call these unions: ‘The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.’ Apparently New Jersey voters are supposed to be grateful that their judicial overlords have delegated this policy ornamentation.”

Anti-poverty senator

“Every poll suggests that Rick Santorum will lose his race to return to the U.S. Senate. That’s probably good news in Pennsylvania’s bobo suburbs, where folks regard Santorum as an ideological misfit and a social blight. But it’s certainly bad for poor people around the world,” New York Times columnist David Brooks writes.

“For there has been at least one constant in Washington over the past 12 years: Almost every time a serious piece of anti-poverty legislation surfaces in Congress, Rick Santorum is there playing a leadership role,” Mr. Brooks said, citing numerous initiatives, including welfare-reform legislation and the global fight against AIDS.

“I could fill this column, if not this entire page, with a list of ideas, proposals and laws Santorum has poured out over the past dozen years,” Mr. Brooks said.

A slight lead

Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, holds a slight lead over Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. in their Senate race with just over a week left before Election Day, according to a poll published yesterday.

Mr. Menendez leads Mr. Kean 48 percent to 42 percent, according to a poll of 600 likely voters published in the Record of Bergen County.

Thirty percent of voters said the Iraq war was the most important issue in deciding their vote. Voters also want to see Democrats rather than Republicans control Congress, 53 percent to 35 percent, the Associated Press reports.

“Any other political year, I think the Republicans [would] win that seat,” said pollster Del Ali of Research 2000, the Rockville, Md., firm that conducted the survey. “The only thing saving Menendez is the climate out there.”

The poll said voters found Mr. Kean more trustworthy by a 49 percent to 36 percent ratio, and they personally like him more than Mr. Menendez, 48 percent to 33 percent. But of those voters who consider Mr. Kean more trustworthy, 35 percent are voting for Mr. Menendez because they feel other factors, such as the war in Iraq and putting Democrats back in control of Congress, are more important.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. It was conducted by phone Oct. 23-25.

Candidate’s offer

A Republican congressman running for Nevada governor who was accused of assaulting a casino cocktail server said he is willing to take a lie-detector test.

“I am willing to do whatever is necessary,” Rep. Jim Gibbons, 61, said Saturday. “When I am proven innocent, how do I get my reputation back? Will you do $10 million of positive imagery to get my reputation back, or isn’t that a story?”

Mr. Gibbons’ offer followed a similar one last week from Chrissy Mazzeo, 32, who accused the congressman of pushing her against a wall and making a sexual advance toward her Oct. 13 in a parking garage outside a Las Vegas restaurant where they had been drinking. Miss Mazzeo said she was willing to take a polygraph test.

Mr. Gibbons has denied Miss Mazzeo’s accusation, saying he was helping her find her truck when she tripped. He caught her and then walked away, he said.

Miss Mazzeo dropped the complaint the next day, but now says she was pressured to do so by a friend who claimed to have ties to the Republican’s campaign.

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

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