UPI's Capital Comment for Oct. 23, 2002

By United Press International  |  Oct. 23, 2002 at 1:09 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

In and out and in. Repeat. -- State Sen. Mike Taylor, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana is getting back into the race. On Oct. 10, Taylor suspended his already moribund campaign after his Democrat opponent, Sen. Max Baucus, put an attack ad on television that Taylor claimed depicted him as a homosexual. The Baucus campaign denied the ad suggested Taylor was gay.

On Tuesday, Taylor said he would remain in the race even if his reputation might be destroyed. He said his aim would be to oppose "gutter politics" in Montana.

But according to several sources, the Montana Republican Party chairman was on the phone last week explaining that Taylor's numbers had actually improved since the scandal broke and he resigned -- an odd twist in an odd story in one of the oddest election in recent memory.

One well placed source said Taylor should adopt the Carnahan Plan as the only way he could possible win the race: Announce he has resumed campaign and will, if elected, resign the seat, allowing Montana Republican Governor Judy Martz to appoint former governor and current Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot -- still the most popular politician in the state -- to the seat.

Old but not out -- Democrat Frank Lautenberg is building up a sizeable lead over Republican Doug Forrester in the race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Bob Torricelli, D-N.J. A new Newark, N.J. Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers poll has Lautenberg leading Forrester 47 percent to 39 percent among voters who said they would probably or definitely go to the polls on Nov. 5. Among those most likely to vote, Lautenberg, who served three terms in the U.S. Senate before retiring six years ago, led Forrester 47 percent to 42 percent, up from a tie in early October, but within the survey's 5-point margin of error.

A tiny surprise -- No one was paying attention to the governor's race in Rhode Island. Everyone assumed that Democrat Myrth York, making her third bid for the governor's mansion, would be elected in November in what has become an overwhelmingly Democrat-leaning state.

Recent polling data indicates that this may be a race after all. Internal polls for businessman Don Carcieri, the surprise winner of the GOP nod, have him with a slight lead over York. Most independent polls have the race within the margin of error. If Carcieri were to win, he would be an atypical northeastern Republican governor, intending to push for limits on spending tied to state economic growth and abortion restrictions -- something that might have crossover appeal for conservative Rhode Island Catholics who typically vote Democrat.

And the glass ceiling went crash! -- Women candidates are poised to make solid breakthroughs in governor's races across the country according to the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, a group seeking to strengthen American democracy by advancing women. Citing data published elsewhere, the foundation says that, of the 10 women running for governor this year, at least four are in strong positions to win: Hawaii is guaranteed a female governor -- where two women are facing off against each other while women candidates in Michigan, Kansas, Rhode Island, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Maryland and Massachusetts are all currently locked in close contests.

Only 19 women have served as governor in the entire history of the United States the foundation says. The reason for so many successful campaigns this year is that "These 10 measure up to voters' expectation," Lee said. "Voters want candidates, especially women candidates, who have a proven track record of success in elective office; are tough decision makers and have a direct but caring leadership style." The Lee Foundation says they have spent the last four years looking at the qualities voters look for in female candidates -- finding that while some hurdles still exist, there is, by and large, a great willingness among certain segments of the electorate to weigh qualifications and vision more heavily than gender.

Old subpoenas make great placemats -- U.S. securities regulators have told home design maven Martha Stewart they plan to bring a civil case against her, according to a report in Tuesday's Financial Times. The case is an outgrowth of the investigation of inside trading at ImClone, a biotechnology company in which Stewart had invested. "The Securities and Exchange Commission has informed Ms. Stewart's lawyers of the likely charges and asked for their response, according to people familiar with the investigation," the FT said. Were the SEC to bring an action against Ms. Stewart, it would be another nail in the coffin of her already badly damaged reputation. The ImClone scandal has tarnished Stewart's public image and, by extension, the Democrats for whom she has been a major financial supporter. "The charges could bolster a parallel criminal investigation of Stewart," the FT said, "being carried out by the U.S. attorney's office." On the plus side, officials of the bankrupt Kmart chain of department stores reports their exclusive Martha Stewart line of home products is still selling well.

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