- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

A real achievement

“The 109th Congress limped out of town at a particularly ugly moment. But it had some achievements worth noting. Well, one achievement, anyway,” syndicated columnist James P. Pinkerton writes.

“It might be the case that this November the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley … will be foremost in the voters’ minds. If that’s the situation, Republicans will have a bad Election Day, exactly five weeks from now,” Mr. Pinkerton said yesterday.

“And if so, then the biggest accomplishment of this Congress, the authorization for construction of a wall across much of the U.S.-Mexican border, is likely to be downplayed by the media. Yet, fortunately, the wall-building issue is firmly planted in voters’ minds, not only for this election, but for the future. And while the partisans on both sides of the debate are fired up by the wall-troversy, it’s obvious that immigration hawks far outnumber immigration doves.”

Cash infusion

Democrat Ned Lamont, seeking to erase Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman’s double-digit lead, is turning to his campaign’s biggest financial backer for another infusion of cash: himself.

The multimillionaire businessman, who trailed by 10 percent in a recent poll, wrote a $500,000 check to his campaign this week, an aide said yesterday. Just last week, Mr. Lamont had tapped his personal wealth for $750,000 to help fund the race. He has spent $6,751,500 of his own money to unseat the 18-year incumbent.

The Lamont camp said it needs the money to blunt Mr. Lieberman’s aggressive television ad campaign. Both sides are spending heavily on commercials. Mr. Lieberman has run ads recently suggesting that political newcomer Mr. Lamont lacks the experience to be an effective senator.

“Ned is not going to let Senator Lieberman’s negative allegations go unanswered,” said Lamont spokeswoman Liz Dupont-Diehl. “We’ve said all along we’re not going to take this lying down.”

The Lieberman campaign scoffed at Mr. Lamont’s move to bolster his campaign, the Associated Press reports.

“We fully expect Ned Lamont to keep drawing on millions of his own money to continue funding his negative campaign,” said Lieberman spokeswoman Tammy Sun.

Meanwhile, in another good sign for the Lieberman campaign, the Hill newspaper reports that Mr. Lieberman says the chamber’s Democratic leadership has assured him he would keep his seniority if he returns to Congress as an independent.

But Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, said his boss “won’t make any decisions until after the elections in November.”

A taxing agenda

“Democrats are campaigning on ‘a new direction for America,’ but they’ve been deliberately abstemious with any details of what that means,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“New York Sen. Chuck Schumer told the Journal last week that silence is their strategy because laying out an agenda ‘gives Republicans a target.’ So much for the courage of one’s convictions,” the newspaper said.

“Apparently, however, Mr. Schumer hasn’t connected with CharlieRangel, the 36-year House veteran from New York City who will chair the Ways and Means Committee if Democrats win a majority. Mr. Rangel has been happy to explain his own agenda on taxes and the war in Iraq.

“In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, Mr. Rangel was asked specifically if any of the Bush first-term tax cuts were worth preserving, and he answered that he ‘cannot think of one.’ Then last week, Mr. Rangel was asked by Congress Daily whether he’d consider tax increases across the income spectrum. ‘No question about it,’ he said. ‘Everything has to be on the table.’

“‘Everything’ would mean repealing the 10 percent low-income bracket, the child tax credit and marriage-penalty relief, all of which passed in 2001 and expire in 2010. According to the Treasury Department, repealing those provisions would raise taxes on the average middle-income family by about $2,000 a year. Most Democrats say they only want to raise taxes on the rich, so give the would-be chairman points for honesty.”

Back in the race

Rep. John P. Murtha is back in the race for House majority leader, should the Democrats come out on top in November, Roll Call reports.

“We’re back campaigning again,” Mr. Murtha said Friday in an interview taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”

The Pennsylvania lawmaker had suspended his bid in June just days after announcing his intentions, faced with criticism from fellow Democrats who feared a divisive leadership campaign could distract the party heading into the November elections.

Name game

A divided Ohio Supreme Court yesterday threw out a lawsuit attempting to force the release of the names of donors backing a group that ran ads critical of the Democratic candidate for governor.

Democrats want to know who donated $1.5 million that a group called Common Sense Ohio gave to Common Sense 2006, which used the money for ads criticizing Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland. The two groups say the contributors’ identities are protected by their nonprofit status.

The court ruled 4-3 that it didn’t have jurisdiction to rule on the lawsuit, filed by the Ohio Democratic Party on behalf of Mr. Strickland. The court said state law gives that authority solely to the Ohio Elections Commission.

10-point lead

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, has a 10-point lead over Republican challenger Mike McGavick five weeks before the election, according to a new McClatchy-MSNBC poll.

Miss Cantwell was at 50 percent, and Mr. McGavick, a former insurance company executive, at 40 percent, with 9 percent undecided. Nearly half of those polled had a favorable opinion of Miss Cantwell. She is seeking a second term six years after she was elected by 2,229 votes in what was then one of the closest races in state history.

Mr. McGavick’s approval rating stood at 30 percent, but even after months of nonstop campaigning, 45 percent of those surveyed had no opinion about him or didn’t recognize him.

Back in Ohio

Returning to the state that dashed his presidential hopes in 2004, Sen. John Kerry urged college students: “Take back Ohio; take back our country.”

“All of the things that make a difference in the real quality of life are going in the wrong direction,” the Massachusetts Democrat told about 300 supporters in the rally at Ohio State University.

Mr. Kerry, who conceded the 2004 election after he lost Ohio’s 20 electoral votes, defended the Democrats against charges that they have no ideas, citing plans by Democrats for health care, education, jobs, trade and global warming, the Associated Press reports.

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

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