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UPI's Capital Comment for Jan. 7, 2003

By United Press International   |   Jan. 7, 2003 at 1:13 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Out...

Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., will be leaving Congress two years from now, the St. Louis Post Dispatch said Monday. "Whether he wins or loses his bid for the presidency," Jo Mannies wrote in a report Monday, "Rep. Richard A. Gephardt has decided against running for re-election next year to the U.S. House seat that he's held for 26 years."

The Post-Dispatch says Gephardt's office had no comment on the rumor. Its report was attributed to "campaign sources close to Gephardt" who, the paper said, "confirmed Monday that his next term as the 3rd District's congressman will be his last." Efforts by Capital Comment to reach Gephardt's office for a comment were unsuccessful.


Making his Case...

Democrat Ed Case was elected Saturday to a full term in the U.S. House of Representatives, succeeding both the late Rep. Patsy Mink, D-Hawaii, who died in 2002, and himself. In December, Case won a special election called to fill out the remaining five weeks of the term to which Mink was elected in November 2000.

According to the Hawaii Reporter's Malia Zimmerman, Case was elected overwhelmingly with 43.2 percent of the vote, beating out 43 other candidates, winning with a total of 33,002 votes.

The Reporter cites Case, first cousin to AOLTimeWarner's Steve Case, as saying he won because of his stance as a moderate, fiscally conservative Democrat. The Reporter says his district "encompasses the neighbor islands and rural portions of Oahu ... (and) was once extremely liberal, but has shifted more to the middle in the last few years."


The torch passes...

Veteran journalist Kenneth E. Grubbs, Jr., has been named the new director of the National Journalism Center, a Washington-based group that teaches aspiring journalists the skills required to report political and public policy news.

Grubbs replaces the legendary M. Stanton Evans, the onetime editor of the Indianapolis News who founded the NJC in the mid-1970s. Evans, who once famously observed that the problem with conservatives who come to Washington is that they arrive expecting a cesspool and instead discover a hot tub, retired in September 2002 though he remains involved with the program.

Most recently the associate editor of the Los Angeles-based Investor's Business Daily, Grubbs is also the former editorial director and vice president of the Orange County Register in California.


NARAL has a little list...

The National Abortion-Rights Action League, a liberal organization concerned with issues concerning reproductive health, has a new name. With the rapidly approaching 30th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, legalizing abortion on demand in the United States, the group has a new name -- NARAL Pro-Choice America -- and a new national mobilization campaign to go with it.

The group has identified 10 items as part of what they are calling "the myriad of threats -- bills, executive actions, and judicial nominations -- queued up for the coming days, when anti-choice forces control all branches of elected federal government."

Among the items causing them concern are the continuing efforts to make partial-birth abortions illegal, the pending federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act that says unborn children are people and have rights separate and apart from the mother's, and the federal Child Custody Protection Act, which makes it a criminal act for a non-custodial adult to take a minor across a state line to get an abortion in an effort to get around a state law requiring parental notification or consent before an abortion can be performed.


The mother of all battles...

People for the American Way, the liberal organization that opposes many of the initiatives emanating from the Bush White House, is raising the prospect of "an approaching Armageddon on judicial nominations" once the county's business is taken up when Congress begins work in earnest.

"By 2004, all 13 federal circuit courts of appeal could well be controlled by Republican-appointed judges. And seven of the nine current Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents. Rarely, if ever, in our history has the entire federal judiciary been dominated by the appointees of one political party," it says.

"There is an urgent need for a vigorous national debate," the group says, on the conservative judicial philosophy espoused by the president and by Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. "What (does) it mean to privacy rights, civil rights, reproductive choice, clean air and water, and religious liberty if President Bush fulfills his promise to appoint judges like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia?" the group asks.

"Americans have a right to know what is at stake before they wake up one morning in 2004 or in 2005 and discover that overnight they have lost fundamental rights, liberties, and protections that they thought were theirs forever," it says.


Personnel notes...

Ken Wolfe, formerly of the House Republican Conference staff, is moving over to the federal Department of Health and Human Services to be speechwriter for Wade Horn, the assistant secretary for children and families... Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., has been elected chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, an informal caucus of more than 70 conservatives members of the GOP in the U.S. House of Representatives... Sean Spicer, who had been the director of incumbent retention efforts for the National Republican Congressional Committee, is the new communications director for the House Budget Committee, chaired by Iowa GOP Rep. Jim Nussle... Anne Gavin, who has spent the last few years running the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' office in Washington, has announced she will join the state government affairs team at Microsoft, effective Jan. 13. In her new role, Gavin will have responsibility for an eight-state region and the District of Columbia.


Got an item for Capital Comment? E-mail it to CapComm@UPI.com.

© 2003 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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