WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (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.
Playing the race card -- The Houston mayoral runoff has turned ugly, as incumbent Democrat Lee Brown, who is locked in a tight battle with his GOP opponent, throws down the race card.
According to reports in the Houston media, the Brown campaign is engaged in a telephone ad campaign to turn black and race conscious voters against his Republican opponent, Orlando Sanchez, that is eerily similar to a tactic used by the NAACP against George W. Bush last year.
The phone message, delivered by the sister of James Byrd, Jr., whose death by dragging attracted national attention during the 2000 presidential campaign, accuses Sanchez of supporting hate based on his council vote in opposition to a resolution in support of the so-called Byrd hate-crimes legislation that the Texas legislature was being asked to approve. The ad says Sanchez "helped lead the fight against the James R. Byrd, Jr. hate-crimes law." The woman, Louvan Harris, ends the message by saying, "Please make sure to vote for Mayor Brown because it hate wins, Houston loses."
Ari home? -- Mei Ling Lin, the 32-year-old woman who is oddly fixated on presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer, has been arrested a second time for stalking the president's press secretary. Police nabbed the woman, who is a resident of Massachusetts, on Tuesday after she allegedly violated the conditions of her release after her arrest for a similar incident last April. According to published reports, Lin was seen sitting on the porch of Fleischer's home with a box of pizza at about 9:30 Sunday morning.
Out -- Rep. Eva Clayton, the North Carolina Democrat who was the first woman in the state's congressional delegation, has announced that she will retire at the end of this term. The 68-year-old Clayton, a former county commissioner, and fellow Democrat Rep. Melvin Watt, were both elected in 1992 and are the first two blacks to win election to the House from North Carolina since Reconstruction.
Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map -- A three-judge federal panel has sent New Mexico's redistricting plan back to state court, denying Republican Gov. Gary Johnson's request to let the federal government take it over. The judges said the governor's attorneys did not make the case for taking jurisdiction away from the state courts. In Oct., Johnson vetoed the plan passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature that would severely damage the re-election prospects of first district Republican Rep. Heather Wilson. Because of the deadlock, state Judge Jim Hall scheduled trials to redistrict the state's three congressional seats and 70 New Mexico House seats, which the governor, through his effort in the federal court, tried to stop.
Glad to hear it -- The Media Research Center, a conservative group that monitors television news, is shipping around the following quote from CBS's Lesley Stahl on "Access Hollywood," in which she discusses her interview with Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz for 60 Minutes: "You're sitting interviewing someone and you're listening to him. He's plausible, he's making sense. But you know that they've lied in the past. I'm more inclined to believe my government." The MRC says they are pleased that Stahl gives a "slight edge to the U.S."
In -- Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Jay Blossman has entered the race for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. Blossman, who may be the first of several to start down the campaign trail, will take on U.S. Rep. John Cooksey, whose candidacy has been derailed by an outrageous anti-Muslim statement he made in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attack. The winner of the GOP race takes on freshman Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu in November.
Do religion and government mix? -- Philosopher Os Guinness, a senior fellow at the Trinity Forum, speaks on "Faith, Fundamentalism, and Democratic Freedom: Religion in America after September 11" at the conservative Heritage Foundation on Nov. 27 at twelve noon.
Personnel notes -- President has announced his intention to nominate Michael E. Toner to be a member of the Federal Election Commission. Toner is currently chief counsel to the Republican National Committee and was general counsel to the Bush/Cheney Transition and Bush/Cheney 2000.
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