WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (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.
Name change -- The move by President Bush to rename what is known in Washington parlance as "main Justice" in honor of former U.S. Attorney General and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, D-N.Y., is drawing praise from both sides of the aisle. What folks may not remember is that during the successful effort to rename the airport closest to the nation's capital for President Ronald Reagan, congressional Democrats repeatedly demanded that RFK's moniker be affixed to the Justice department headquarters in exchange for dropping their objections. Republicans opposed the move at the time, arguing it would add a partisan tinge to what is supposed to be the impartial administration of justice in America. My how things change.
In -- Essex County, N.J. chief executive Jim Treffinger is announcing a bid to take on embattled U.S. Sen. Bob Torricelli, D-N.J., next year. While several Republicans are reportedly considering a bid, including former Gov. Tom Kean, Treffinger is the first to declare his candidacy. A former Democrat, Treffinger changed parties in 1986 and won his first term as county executive in 1994. Four years later he was re-elected in spite of the fact that Democrats hold a 3-to-1 edge in voter registration.
In -- For a nomination that does not appear much worth having, the competition for the right to face off against Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., next year is becoming fierce. State Rep. James Durkin has become the third Republican to announce for the GOP nomination, joining businessmen John Cox and dairy owner James Oberweis in the race. Durkin says his background as a former prosecutor would help him connect with voters at a time when law and order issues are increasingly important. Analysts on both sides of the aisle have Durbin as a strong favorite for re-election.
He might just make it after all -- GOP strategists are becoming increasingly excited about former St. Paul, Minn., Mayor Norm Coleman's prospects against two-term incumbent Democrat Sen. Paul Wellstone next November. They say that the Nov. 7 election showed some trends that Republicans should find encouraging including a GOP mayoral win in Minneapolis, where incumbent Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, one of the few candidates to receive campaign assistance from former Vice President Al Gore this year, was defeated in her bid for third term by R.T. Rybak.
New leadership from the top down? -- In Nevada, Republican Gov. Kenny Quinn is extremely popular -- so popular; in fact, that the Democrats have had a difficult time finding anyone to run against him next year. Finally one candidate has come forward to make the race: former topless dancer Barbara Scott of Las Vegas. In the 1998 gubernatorial primary, in which Scott had raised funds by dancing topless, she received 3 percent of the vote.
Power shift -- Rep. Jim Barcia, D-Mich., is floating the possibility of a run for lieutenant governor next year. Barcia has been placed into a new congressional district alongside multi-term fellow Democrat Rep. Dale Kildee. The popular Democrat, who enjoys a sizeable following among rural voters and gun owners, says he might run for a different office rather than take on Kildee in the primary.
Calling David Boies -- Things are getting hot in Compton, Calif., home of the West Coast rap industry. Former Mayor Omar Bradley has filed suit, alleging fraud, bribery, perjury and death threats had n impact on the June 5 election that he lost by just 561 votes. In one of the trial's more shocking revelations, a city clerk accused of helping rig the mayoral race showed up in court with 27 ballot boxes from the June election, saying he had simply overlooked them earlier. The boxes reportedly contained unused ballots and will be examined at a later time.
Lettuce entertain you -- Wait-weary travelers inching their way along endless lines at Reagan National Airport got a treat Tuesday when the "Lettuce Ladies," representing People for the Ethical Treatment Animals, descended on the terminal. Wearing nothing but strategically placed lettuce leaves, the PETA activists handed out turkey-free holiday recipes. "We're hoping to convince people to turn over a new leaf and give vegetarianism a try this Thanksgiving," says Lettuce Lady Kristie Phelps, whose gang of green goddesses plan similar events at airports across the country.
Personnel note -- Sean Duffy, president of The Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania's conservative state think tank, is relocating to Denver, Colo., as the new chief of staff to GOP Gov. Bill Owens...
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