- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

Taking the pledge

Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both Republicans and presidential hopefuls, have pledged not to raise taxes should they reach the White House.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge, sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, commits signers to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses … and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

Mr. Romney signed on Sunday and Mr. Brownback signed on Monday, according to the tax reform group, which has offered the pledge to all candidates for federal office since 1987. To date, President Bush, 43 U.S. senators and 197 members of the U.S. House have signed the pledge, the group said.

Seven governors and more than 1,100 state legislators have signed the pledge as well.

“America needs leaders who are committed to protecting taxpayers, and signing our pledge demonstrates that kind of leadership,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “By signing the pledge, Sam Brownback and Mitt Romney demonstrate allegiance to hardworking taxpayers nationwide. It is now up to the other candidates in the race to stand up to the challenge.”

Provisional seating

Just because Rep. Vern Buchanan, Florida Republican, was sworn in yesterday doesn’t mean that the Democrat-controlled House is on his side in his contested election.

Rep. Rush D. Holt, New Jersey Democrat, formally asked the House to recognize the court challenge in Florida’s 13th Congressional District in the Sarasota area. Mr. Buchanan won by just 369 votes, but Democrat Christine Jennings contends that the electronic voting machines didn’t work correctly because 18,000 people who voted in other elections did not vote in the House race.

On the House floor, Mr. Holt asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, whether a notice of contest had been filed with the clerk on behalf of Miss Jennings.

Mrs. Pelosi said the notice had been filed with the clerk.

“The House remains the judge of the elections of its members,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “The seating of this member-elect is entirely without prejudice to the contest over the final right to that seat.”

Mrs. Pelosi added that the Committee on House Administration is reviewing the contest.

Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way Foundation, applauded the House leadership for making clear that Mr. Buchanan’s time in Congress is provisional until the matter is resolved, the Associated Press reports.

“Only after court proceedings and a congressional investigation seeking answers about the Sarasota undervote have run their course, and only after Sarasota’s election problems have been remedied, should someone be permanently seated,” Mr. Neas said.

Next ambition

Mark Dayton ended his one term as a U.S. senator yesterday, but the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports that the Minnesota Democrat is considering a run for governor in 2010.

The announcement was made as Mr. Dayton recounted his frustration with Congress, acknowledging that he had not been “as effective as I hoped to be when I arrived.” For that, he blamed what he called the seniority-driven politics of the Senate, where he was in the minority party for the past four years.

“The Senate or the Legislature is a very reactive institution, and I think I’m much more effective personally and professionally being more proactive,” he said.

Republicans reacted to a potential run for governor with incredulity, noting that Mr. Dayton recently gave himself an “F” for his Senate performance.

Patrick sworn in

Four former Massachusetts governors — Republicans and Democrats — attended the history-making inauguration of Gov. Deval Patrick, the nation’s second black elected governor. Noticeably absent was former Gov. Mitt Romney.

Mr. Romney, who a day earlier took the first step in his run for president, said he watched the ceremony on television at his home in Belmont, a suburb about eight miles west of Boston. The Republican hopeful said he followed tradition by not attending the inaugural.

“My understanding is that the tradition in Massachusetts is that the outgoing governor does not attend the inauguration of the new governor,” Mr. Romney said as he opened his presidential exploratory committee campaign headquarters in Boston’s North End. “That’s the way it was when I was sworn in, and my understanding is that’s the case, and so I simply have followed tradition.”

Attending the inauguration of the state’s first black governor were former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, and three former Republican governors: William Weld, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift.

Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, who in 1990 became the first black elected to lead a state, also attended. Mr. Wilder is the mayor of Richmond.

Hip replacement

Hours after attending Gerald R. Ford’s funeral, former President George Bush underwent surgery to replace his right hip, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., announced yesterday, a day after the procedure.

The surgery, completed by 7 a.m. Wednesday, was a success, said Mayo Clinic spokesman Adam Brase. He said the 82-year-old was undergoing physical therapy and was expected to be released no later than tomorrow.

Mr. Bush traveled to the clinic late Tuesday after attending the Washington funeral of Mr. Ford, where he delivered a eulogy.

Mr. Bush had his left hip replaced at the Mayo Clinic in 2000. His wife, Barbara, had successful hip replacement surgery there in 1997.

At long last

“Two actions [Tuesday] in the Massachusetts state legislature increase the likelihood that voters in the Bay State will have the chance, in 2008, to vote on an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage,” the New York Sun says in an editorial.

“Whatever one’s view of gay marriage, it is something to behold that such a vote would take place fully five years, to the month, after the state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled that gays have a right to marry in Massachusetts and more than four years after local officials in Massachusetts started granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Senator Kerry’s position has been that he supports amending the constitution of Massachusetts to ban gay marriage but allow civil unions. ‘I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,’ Senator Kerry said in one of the 2004 presidential debates.

“When even a Democratic left-wing senator from Massachusetts doesn’t side with the court’s ruling, one gets the sense that proponents of gay marriage have yet to fully convince the public of the righteousness of their cause and that the court is out ahead of public sentiment on the issue.”

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

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