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UPI's Capital Comment for Feb. 24, 2003

Feb. 24, 2003 at 12:11 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (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.

He has a lean and hungry look about him...

Ralph Reed, the political wunderkind who helped transform American college campuses into places where Reaganism had a home in the early 80s and built the conservative Christian political movement into a force to be reckoned with in the 90s, is stepping down as chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.

Far from a consensus choice when he announced for the post, Reed presided over what is probably the Georgia GOP's most successful election cycle. On his watch, they won the governorship for the first time in history, cobbled together a first-ever majority in the state Senate, won a U.S. Senate seat and racked up several upset victories in races for the U.S. House of Representatives. Gov. Sonny Perdue's choice to replace Reed is reportedly Alec Poitevint, former state Georgia GOP chairman and former treasurer of the Republican National Committee.


False start...

UPI's Capital Comment pushed U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., out of the starting gate ahead of schedule Friday. We said Foley was set to announce his bid for U.S. Senate seat early this week. That turns out not to the be the case, according to Foley's congressional spokesman Chris Paulitz. The five-term Republican congressman from West Palm Beach is gearing up for a run for the seat currently held by Democrat Bob Graham.


Voices crying out in the wilderness...

Many Democrats have been tearing their hair over the lack of a reliably liberal -- and money-making -- presence on talk radio. News that a new left-leaning network funded by party donors was in the works may have given them some comfort but it looks like it may have some competition -- even before it hits the air and from the unlikeliest of sources.

Fox News, the Rupert Murdoch-led company that is the No. 1 news network on cable television, is branching out into radio. FOX Live with Alan Colmes, a nationally syndicated radio program, goes on the air Monday. The program, which airs weeknights from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m, kicks off on a number of stations, eight of which are in the nation's top 10 media markets.

Colmes is the liberal half of Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, the second-most watched cable news shows in America. Based out of New York, the new radio program will be a news-driven program featuring Fox News reporters and analysis and commentary from Colmes, widely considered one of the most intelligent and perceptive liberals in broadcasting today.

With the resources of Fox News behind it, the program may make a significant impact in the talk radio marketplace in a short period of time. The market is currently dominated by national and local radio programs that -- with anchors such as conservatives Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and populist maverick Bill O'Reilly -- lean more to the right than to the left.

Like Colmes, Hannity, and O'Reilly are currently ratings dynamite on the company's cable news channel while Limbaugh's long-ago television program was helmed by Roger Ailes, now head of Fox News.


In...

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain says he will seek a fourth term in 2004. First elected in 1986 as the successor to the legendary Barry Goldwater, McCain has evolved into something of a maverick in the years following the Keating Five scandal in which he was implicated but then exonerated by his colleagues of wrongdoing.

McCain challenged George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, cementing his status as a national political power. Due in part to the leverage he gained as a result of the run, he was able to push the first major overhaul of campaign contribution and spending rules in almost 30 years through the Congress.

His unorthodox approach has led some conservative activists to look for a candidate to run against him in the primary. Early speculation centered on U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a former think tank executive who is a favorite of the party's pro-growth wing. As of now, however, Flake seems reluctant to make the bid and, as the Arizona Republican points out, was recently listed as an honorary co-chairman of a McCain fundraiser.


In memoriam...

I. Andrew Rader, known affectionately to his friends as "Tiny," died of cancer Feb. 17 in San Diego. Rader, who friends say died peacefully in his sleep, was the founding chairman of the Bradley Foundation, a philanthropic colossus based in Milwaukee that underwrites many important center-right initiatives.

The foundation, endowed out of funds generated by the sale of Allen-Bradley to what was then Rockwell International, has been the catalyst behind many significant social and public policy changes since it began operations in 1985. Michael Joyce, whom Rader recruited to run the organization in 1985, gives him much of the credit for its success. "An important part of his makeup was a willingness to shake the status quo," he said.


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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