UPI's Capital Comment for Dec. 13, 2001

By PETER ROFF, UPI National Political Analyst   |   Dec. 13, 2001 at 2:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (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.

Rudy Redux -- As the second most-popular Republican in the United States, it is inevitable that Rudy Giuliani makes the so-called short list whenever an interesting vacancy occurs. Two of the latest thoughts are baseball commissioner, replacing former Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig, and running as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Jersey. But before you laugh off the idea of a New Jersey Senate run, think about a few things. First, all of northern New Jersey is part of the New York City media market and is, in many ways, culturally indistinguishable from the city. Second, Giuliani's brand of Republicanism -- strong for law and order, pro-growth on economics and liberal on social policy -- is a good fit for New Jersey voters. And third, his opponent in that race would be embattled Democrat Sen. Bob Torricelli who, while chairman of the Democrat Senate Campaign Committee, was a critical force behind the conception and execution of former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's successful run for New York Senate despite the fact that she had never lived there. So people think that a New Jersey Senate run by Giuliani would be a lot less of a leap than that -- and that Torricelli really couldn't make an issue of it without reminding voters of his own perfidy.

End of an era -- Maude Chasen, who with her restaurateur husband Dave operated a Hollywood hot spot bearing their name for years, died Saturday of pneumonia in Los Angeles. Chasen's, a barbecue joint that counted many of the silver screen's most famous names among their clientele, was also an important American political landmark. One of former President Ronald Reagan's favorite night spots, it was there that he asked actress Nancy Davis to become his wife. The partnership that night formed over dinner at Chasen's may not have changed Hollywood but it certainly helped changed the world.

Irvin-evitable? -- Georgia Republican Bob Irvin's campaign for U.S. Senate may be starting to pick up steam. As the minority leader of the statehouse, Irvin has been endorsed for the nomination by more than 60 of his 74 GOP colleagues. His principal primary opponent, Rep. Saxby Chambliss, is still reeling from anti-Muslim comments he made in a public forum with Georgia business leaders in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Irvin, an Atlanta-area resident, has a reputation as a hard-worker and party-builder while Chambliss hails from a more rural part of the state and does not enjoy the reputation of being a team player. This race could end up surprising a number of people.

New for Newt -- Newt Gingrich, the first Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives in 40 years, has been named honorary chairman of the newly formed NanoBusiness Alliance, an effort to create a collective voice for the advancment of the nanotechnology industry. Nanotechnology, the construction of materials at the molecular level, is already having a major impact on homeland security, disease detection and prevention, manufacturing and the electronics industry, and is expected to become a $1 trillion industry by 2015.

Flying blind -- Reporters in the Washington press corps are predicting the imminent demise of a high-level flak somewhere within the Bush administration. The unidentified spokesperson will soon be called back to the nest so White House communications czar Karen Hughes can take said flak under her wing, or so the story goes. One thing - it isn't the Pentagon's Torrie Clarke.

Backfield's in motion and -- it's a reverse! -- Former North Carolina Superior Court Judge Ray Warren, a Republican-turned-Democrat, has dropped out of the race for U.S. Senate in North Carolina and will seek to challenge GOP Rep. Robin Hayes in 2002. A former North Carolina GOP gubernatorial candidate, Hayes is in a much tougher district thanks to redistricting, and last week he cast a politically hazardous vote to give Trade Promotion Authority to President Bush. Hayes is winning plaudits for his leadership in supporting TPA, but Republican insiders worry about the impact his vote will have on his re-election efforts.

An apple for the district -- The Houston Independent School District, once the home of Education Secretary Rod Paige, is being honored as a national model for other urban education systems to follow. The American Productivity and Quality Center and the Broad Foundation, a $100 million grant-making group funding innovative efforts to improve urban school systems, are hosting a summit in Houston this month so that officials from public school districts across the country can learn from their success in developing principals and other leaders.

You've got chain-mail -- AOLTimeWarner, the information-age powerhouse, named Larry Cockrell, the deputy director of the United States Secret Service, to the new position of chief security officer and senior vice president. Cockrell is a 20-year veteran of the service, and from 1998 to 2000, was special agent in charge of the presidential protective division, putting him in charge of all security programs in the Clinton White House.

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