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UPI Political Roundup

By AL SWANSON, United Press International   |   Oct. 21, 2002 at 6:36 PM   |   Comments

Dems sending pro to Florida

With political newcomer Bill McBride in a surprisingly tight race with Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, national Democrats are sending in reinforcements to step up a get-out-the-vote effort.

The Washington Post said Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence McAuliffe has authorized more than $500,000 in direct assistance to McBride's campaign to bring out African-American and minority voters.

Nick Baldick, who ran Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign in Florida, has been assigned to whip McBride's state organization into shape before Election Day.

The candidate was to appear with Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, Gore's 2000 running mate.


Minn. governor's race tied, Wellstone leads for senate

It could be a long election night for candidates for governor in Minnesota.

With two weeks remaining until Nov. 5, the latest Minnesota Poll showed the three major candidates in a statistical tie.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune polled 1,048 registered voters between Oct. 11-16 and found 29 percent favored both Democrat Roger Moe and Republican Tim Pawlenty with Tim Penny, Gov. Jesse Ventura's hand-picked successor, 2 percentage points behind with 27 percent.

Green Party candidate Ken Pentel had 3 percent and 12 percent were undecided. The poll had a 3 percent margin of error.

In the Senate race, incumbent Democrat Paul Wellstone had a 6-point lead over President Bush's hand-picked candidate Norm Coleman, 47 percent to 41 percent. The poll was conducted right after Wellstone voted against the Bush's war powers resolution in Congress.


South Carolina debate genteel

Mint juleps about were the only thing missing from Sunday night's well-mannered debate between South Carolina's Senate candidates.

The Charlotte Observer said Democratic candidate Alex Sanders, Republican Rep. Lindsey Graham, Constitution Party nominee Ted Adams and Libertarian Victor Kocher were friendly and joked about their campaign ads before the camera's red light came on in the South Carolina ETV studio.

Unlike their three previous debates, the cordiality continued under the television lights broken only when Graham said Sanders would support a liberal agenda. Sanders said he would be an independent voice in the U.S. Senate.

As for himself, Graham said he was conservative -- just like 99-year-old incumbent Jesse Helms.


Calif farm country divided on governor's race

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon got the endorsement of California's largest agricultural organization Monday, a day after his opponent in the November election was hailed by farm workers for his support of a controversial union mediation bill.

The 95,000-member California Farm Bureau said Simon "understands the complex issues facing our industry" and would put forth "real solutions" to various current quandaries.

The endorsement came after incumbent Gov. Gray Davis, who leads Simon in the polls, swung through the state's agricultural heartland attending rallies staged by the United Farm Workers.

Agriculture has turned into a major campaign issue due in large part to a bill that requires mediation to end often-lengthy deadlocks in contract talks between the major growers and the UFW. Davis cast his lot with the farm workers when he signed the bill last month.

Simon echoed the growers' point of view by opposing the measure last month as a thinly disguised effort to impose contract settlements, which he said robbed both growers and the UFW of the freedom to strike their own deals without state interference.

Simon Monday pledged in a series of appearances in the San Joaquin Valley to address issues such as water and electricity. He also used general criticisms of Davis, repeating his allegations the governor's policies depend on which special interest group is sending him campaign contributions.

"The last four years of Gray Davis' pay-to-play priorities, mismanagement and failed leadership have landed squarely on the backs of California's farming community," he said.


Family ties

The campaign for Massachusetts governor has become a family affair of the negative sort.

Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for governor, aired a new campaign ad over the weekend that raised as an issue the former lobbying activities of Emmet Hayes, the husband of Democratic nominee Shannon O'Brien, on behalf of bankrupt energy giant Enron.

Democrats quickly struck back, recalling that Romney's wife, Ann, had supported a constitutional amendment opposing gay marriages and benefits for domestic partners.

Hayes said he gave up his lobbying business to avoid the appearance of a conflict as his wife, the state treasurer, ran for governor.

Romney's ad portrays a basset hound "watchdog" snoozing as men in suits loaded a truck bearing the name Enron with bags of Treasury money.

The ad says that -- despite O'Brien's promise to be a watchdog -- on her watch as Massachusetts treasurer, the state pension fund has lost $7.2 billion since March 2000 -- including $23 million lost when the Treasury invested in Enron even after the federal government said the energy giant was under investigation. The ad also notes Hayes once lobbied for Enron.

"The problem with Enron has nothing to do with my husband, Emmet," O'Brien said. "It has everything to do with corrupt and greedy CEOs. ..."

O'Brien called Romney's ad "as disgraceful as it is inaccurate."

Romney said O'Brien is just trying to "deflect attention away from her mismanagement of the Pension fund."

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said the effort by Democrats to raise Ann Romney as an issue is a "red herring."


All in the family

More than 400 people turned out Sunday night to meet and greet Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg at a fund-raiser for the re-election campaign for her cousin, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I.

The daughter of President John F. Kennedy posed for pictures with local Democrats and signed autographs for the mostly female crowd at the $25-per-person event, the Providence Journal reported.

"Patrick is setting an example for all of our family," said Kennedy Schlossberg. "He works incredibly hard and continues the devotion to public service that his father has passed on to him." Kennedy is the son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. Kennedy Schlossberg, 44, has been busy on behalf of other family members running for office.

She has stumped for cousins Mark Shriver, who lost a Democratic primary for the U.S. House in Maryland, and Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who is locked in a close race for governor of that state against Republican Robert Ehrlich.


Debate warm-up

Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican U.S. Rep. John E. Sununu -- vying to be New Hampshire's junior U.S. senator -- held a warm-up of sorts Sunday for their scheduled debate this week at a community forum.

The Union-Leader of Manchester reports Shaheen criticized Sununu's record on prescription drugs, the environment, education and the estate tax, while Sununu criticized Shaheen's positions on health insurance reform and President Bush's tax cuts, as well as her record on education funding.

"No one in New Hampshire believes our education funding crisis has been solved in the last six years" during the Shaheen governorship, Sununu said after Shaheen had touted the education programs enacted while she was in office.

"When John Sununu says he's delivered on a prescription-drug bill," Shaheen said, "there hasn't in fact been a prescription drug bill that's been enacted."


Referendums: casinos, universal health care on ballots

Voters in 11 Iowa counties are expected to vote overwhelmingly to retain riverboat gambling on Nov. 5.

The Des Moines Register said eight years of legalized casinos had created 10,000 jobs and pumped millions into charities and local communities. Voters in all of the counties that host casinos or racetrack casinos get to vote a simple "yes" or "no" on the referenda.

The newspaper said efforts by churches and other groups to fight gambling have been met with public apathy.

A Portland Tribune poll shows Oregon voters leaning against creating the nation's first single-payer universal health care system, 39 percent to 36 percent, with 25 percent undecided. Supporters were working a volunteer telephone bank to get out the vote. They say rising numbers of uninsured will overwhelm the current health care system.

The survey said the health care initiative, which would replace must individual and employer-sponsored plans, was popular with Democrats and women and trailing among men, independents and Republicans.


Clinton honorary black hall of fame inductee

Former President Bill Clinton attended fund-raisers for Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Jimmie Lou Fisher both Sunday and Monday telling the Democrat she can win.

Clinton said Fisher's biggest problem was name recognition. She trails incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee by 10 points in a recent poll.

Clinton visited the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville Monday to dedicate a new sculpture of late Sen. J. William Fulbright outside the student union. The sculpture faces the Fulbright Peace Fountain and honors the 50th anniversary of the German-American Fulbright Educational Exchange Program.

Saturday night, Clinton became the first non-black person ever inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

The former president was honored for a lifetime of work to help the black community in his home state. He said he owed blacks more than they owed him.

The 10-year-old Arkansas Black Hall of Fame also honored music executive Al Bell, Faye Clark, co-founder of Educate the Children Foundation; Edith Irby-Jones, the first black graduate of the University of Arkansas Medical School; author and poet Haki Madhubuti, and late Church of God in Christ founder Charles Harrison Mason.


(Dave Haskell in Boston and Hil Anderson in Los Angeles contributed to this report)

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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