UPI's Capital Comment for Dec. 17, 2001

By United Press International  |  Dec. 17, 2001 at 2:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (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.

Out -- Cathy Keating, first lady of Oklahoma, suddenly dropped out of the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Steve Largent in Congress. Keating, whom many considered the front-runner, finished an embarrassing second to State Rep. John Sullivan in last week's primary. Sources in Oklahoma say the decision to withdraw from the runoff was pushed by Keating political advisers who fear that a defeat in the runoff by the state's first lady would be a blow to her husband's future political aspirations. Rumor has it that the state's senior senator, Republican Whip Don Nickles, may retire at the end of his current term, leaving outgoing Gov. Frank Keating as his most likely replacement. If Cathy Keating had stayed in the race and lost the runoff, it could have derailed future Keating political plans and was not deemed worth the risk.

Acquired -- Votenet Solutions, Inc., has acquired Campaigns & Elections magazine from Congressional Quarterly Inc. The magazine, founded in 1980, has 83,000 readers and is the only non-partisan trade publication for the rapidly growing political campaign industry. Campaigns and Elections Editor in Chief Ron Faucheux says the magazine staff is "thrilled to be joining forces with Votenet. It gives our magazine an opportunity to greatly expand our Internet presence and to strengthen our editorial offerings to subscribers and advertisers."

Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map -- A map put forward by a panel of judges in Missouri may end 50 years of Democrat control of the state's lower legislative chamber, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch. Democrats now control the chamber 87-76, but their margin has been decreasing slowly but steadily for some time. House Republican Minority Leader Catherine Hanaway said, "This is a map that if we go out and recruit good candidates, we can take a majority." The state Supreme Court picked the six judges to draw the lines after another bipartisan panel deadlocked over the maps in August. The judges held four public hearings around the state this fall.

Carrying a torch? -- The list of potential GOP opponents to embattled New Jersey Democrat Sen. Robert Torricelli continues to grow. Another new name on the list is U.S. Independent Counsel Robert Ray, now wrapping up the last of his responsibilities as the nation's lead investigator of the Clinton White House. A well-placed source says that, at this point, Ray is currently offering no comment on the speculation, neither confirming nor denying the rumors. In Washington, this kind of non-denial denial usually falls into the "where there's smoke, there's fire" category.

Cut from the same bolt of cloth -- A deal cut in the U.S. House to scale back some preferential tariffs for Caribbean and Andean countries has attracted the support of the Bush administration. The deal was part of the negotiations to win support for a grant of presidential trade promotion authority and would reportedly restrict tariff preferences to apparel imports made from fabric dyed and finished in the United States. It would also, according to some analysts, lessen the political sting some Southern members of Congress may be feeling for voting with the White House on TPA.

Human rights honorees -- Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage presented the 2001 Eleanor Roosevelt Award to Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., the co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and two non-governmental human rights activists in ceremonies at the State Department on Dec. 13.

On behalf of President Bush, Armitage presented leather-bound certificates to Wolf; John Kamm, the executive director of the Dui Hua (Dialogue) Foundation; and Barbara Elliot, president of the Center for Renewal. The three were recognized for their distinguished records of accomplishment in the promotion of human rights around the world.

What next -- The Brookings Institution hosts a forum Tuesday on the end game in Afghanistan now that most of the military targets have fallen to the allies and an interim government is scheduled to be sworn in. The panel, beginning at 9:30 on Dec. 18, features Stephen Philip Cohen of Brookings, former deputy national security adviser, and Ivo Daadler, a Brookings fellow who is former director for European affairs at the NSC.

No recount required -- John Aubuchon, senior correspondent for Maryland Public Television, becomes president of the National Press Club on Jan. 18, succeeding Richard A. Ryan, senior Washington correspondent for the Detroit News. Aubuchon, who has spent most of his professional career in Washington, will lead the NPC for a one-year term and is only the third broadcast journalist to take the helm in the NPC's 94-year history. He is a former White House correspondent, covering the Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations for Tribune Broadcasting. He also has covered Capitol Hill. The 55-year-old reporter was a Vietnam correspondent for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service and the American Forces Vietnam Network.

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