WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- News, notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.
Back in the sun -- Tom Slade, the former chairman of the Florida GOP, has agreed to come out of retirement to lead the Duval County Republican organization. Slade, who presided over the remaking of the Florida Republican Party into the state's dominant political force, is being called back to preside over the effort to elect a successor to outgoing Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney, a Republican. Some fear that without a leader of Slade's stature calling the shots, the field of likely GOP candidates would tear each other up so badly that there would be no hope of eventual victory.
Putting off until tomorrow ... -- "Blinded by the Right," David Brock's memoir of his seduction at the hands of right-wing intellectuals, was originally scheduled for October release. The book received a flurry of pre-release publicity over excerpts in which Brock admitted he had been less than truthful in his reporting on the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill imbroglio. Eagerly anticipated by friends and foes alike, the book's release has now been put off until February 2002, according to the publisher's Web site.
Sooey of relief -- A new poll of 767 adults conducted by the University of Arkansas shows Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson with a 58 percent approval rating. The same poll also shows him with a 51 percent favorable rating, which no doubt causes folks at the National Republican Senatorial Committee to breathe a little easier. Hutchinson is one of the two incumbents running for re-election next year about who Republicans are most worried. A basic political rule is that anytime an incumbent shows above 50 percent, they are out of the danger zone. And because the poll was of all adults, who as a sample tend to include more Democrats then the universe of registered voters, Hutchinson is likely in even better shape then the poll suggests.
Aid and comfort? -- The United States Agency for International Development has announced the award of $26.5 million in grants to the United Nations and other international organizations to assist the people of Afghanistan. The money will be used to provide non-food aid and will be administered through USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
This is getting interesting -- First, there was the Jesse Helms retirement watch. Then North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, a Democrat, entered the race, pretty much clearing the field of other serious challengers for her party's nomination. Then Helms announced his retirement. This was quickly followed by an announcement by former U.S. Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole that she would run on the GOP line. This cleared the GOP field of most all the other serious contenders, potential and otherwise. Then Erskine Bowles, former Clinton White House chief of staff -- who had earlier taken a pass on the race -- announced he was reconsidering and would be getting into the race. Now, if that's not confusing enough, a boomlet has gone up on behalf of C. Boyden Gray, White House counsel in the administration of George Bush the elder. Gray, scion of a wealthy tobacco family, could fund his own race if he chose. So it looks like it could be left versus right and men versus women on both sides of the aisle during the North Carolina primary season. And we all thought that whatever followed Jesse Helms could never be as interesting.
Today, we march! -- The international Act Now to Stop War and End Racism coalition is holding a worldwide "day of action" on Saturday. According to their release, "Thousands of anti-war protestors are expected to rally in (New York's) Times Square against the relentless U.S. bombing in Afghanistan and the continuing assault on civil liberties at home." The coalition says the rally is one of over 100 that well be held in cities around the world, in a statement of international solidarity against the war and the killing of "hundreds if not thousands of civilians" while "preventing millions of starving Afghanis from receiving humanitarian aid." The New York event will end with a teach-in at the School of Humanities on the lower west side of Manhattan.
New Jersey Gap, Day 2 -- Republicans are being tweaked by Democrats for their failure to back the GOP nominee for governor, Bret Schundler, to the hilt. The Democratic Governors' Association sent out its DGA Digest Thursday morning headlined "Is the RNC walking away from Schundler?" gleefully repeating The New Years Times' report that, with less then two weeks to go before the election, "the Republican National Committee has yet to buy a single penny of major television or radio advertising."
Out and in -- Rep. Steve Largent, R-Okla., has finally set the date for his departure from the U.S. House. He resigns to begin his run for governor effective Feb. 12. At the same time, the state legislature has approved a measure that would guarantee that the special election to pick his successor would occur by the 12th, ensuring the residents of his congressional district do not go without a member of Congress for even one day. Oklahoma's Gov. Frank Keating, a fellow Republican, is expected to sign the measure when it reaches his desk if for no other reason than his wife Cathy is the frontrunner in the race to succeed Largent.
Personnel note -- Former U.S. Rep. Mike Pappas, R-N.J., has been named regional administrator of the Small Business Administration for Region II, which oversees New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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