WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (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.
A new top cop for Michigan
Republican Mike Cox, an assistant Wayne County, Mich., prosecutor, has been declared the winner of the race to be Michigan's new attorney general. Cox defeated state Sen. Gary Peters by just over 5,200 votes in a four-way race. Peters has called Cox to concede, saying he would not request a recount. Cox is the first Republican in 48 years to win the office, the last having been Frank Millard who served from 1951 to 1954.
Into the sunset
Al Cardenas, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, has announced he will not be a candidate for re-election after his term expires in January. Cardenas first came to the United States as a 12-year-old and got his start in politics as a college student in New Jersey. In 1978 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress against the legendary Claude Pepper, losing by 25,000 votes, but the die was cast. Rising through the ranks, he was Florida GOP chairman in January 1999, becoming one of the first Latinos to lead a state organization in either of the major political parties. Though he is expected to return to his law practice full time, there are some who believe that he may be the leading candidate to replace former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot as national GOP chairman. Racicot chose not to seek another term.
It's a long swim
Six of the U.S. Navy's elite SEALs are set to paddle kayaks over a 170-mile course between Virginia Beach, Va., and Washington, D.C., during the first week of December to raise public awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The SEALs will brave the winter weather along the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River to raise money for the foundation -- specialops.org -- whose goal is to provide "surviving children of special operations forces with the college education their fallen parent would have wanted for them."
"In a community that is relatively small, special operations has had its share of casualties this past year as a result of combat, aircraft crashes and training accidents," said Lt. Cmdr. Brad Treadway, a Navy SEAL and the event's coordinator.
"In naval special warfare, we do what we can to take care of our teammate's family. In most instances, teammates who are friends of the family assist with the immediate needs of the family. However, we wanted to look for a way to provide financial relief down the road for our friend's children. The Special Operations Warrior Foundation does that through providing four-year college scholarships for the children of special operators killed in an operational mission or training accident."
The sound of two erasers clapping
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, an independent group that works to advance quality teaching, says that 7,886 teachers across the 50 states and the District of Columbia have achieved top honors this year, bringing the total number of National Board-certified teachers to 23,930. "These accomplished teachers will not only strengthen the teaching profession, they will also help our students achieve at higher academic levels," said the group's chairman, Barbara Kelley.
"I salute this year's candidates and our new National Board-certified teachers. I thank the families, the schools, the school districts and the universities that supported these teachers in their efforts to achieve National Board Certification." This year, the states with the highest number of teachers achieving National Board certification are:
-- North Carolina, with 1,476;
-- Florida, with 1,243;
-- South Carolina, with 1,062;
-- California, with 646 and
-- Ohio, with 458.
State political leaders praised the results. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said, "Attracting new teachers and retaining the talented teachers already living in Florida remains a top priority for Florida. National Board certification is one of the best ways we can both reward our talented teachers and meet new state and federal mandates for quality teaching."
An armed plane is a polite plane
As one of its last bits of business before recessing for the year, the U.S. Senate approved by a vote of 90 to 9 the legislation authorizing the creation of a new federal Department of Homeland Security. As a result, pilots on American-flagged commercial air carriers are now permitted to carry firearms into the cockpit. This is a welcome development for one group, the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, which had lobbied hard to see the controversial provision included in the final bill. "We have watched with satisfaction as other law enforcement groups, pilot unions, and even the White House came around to our position," LEAA Executive Director Jim Fotis said.
"A number of groups and organizations, including the White House, who ended up supporting armed pilots, were initially skeptical or even opposed to the armed pilots program," he said in a statement after the bill was signed.
The next item on the group's agenda is legislation that would permit the country's estimated 1.5 million active and retired law-enforcement officers to carry firearms while not on duty. Passage of the Community Protection Act becomes the 75,000-group's No. 1 priority for the next Congress.
(Capital Comment will not be published on Thursday because of the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the United States.)
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