Monday, October 25, 2004
WASHINGTON - Ohio and Kentucky's congressional delegations are jockeying for their big elections - not on Election Day, but beyond.
Lawmakers get in position for leadership
The first big plum is the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees more than $800 billion in federal spending. There's a 67 percent chance that the next chairman will be from Ohio or Kentucky.
That's because three men are vying to replace Florida Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young, who is leaving because of term limits.
One is Ohio Rep. Ralph Regula, a Canton Republican, who chairs one of the 13 appropriations subcommittees. Another is Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers, a Somerset Republican. The third is California Rep. Jerry Lewis.
How to get the job? Schmooze and donate. Regula started up a special fund to smooth his way to the chairmanship. His new CARE Political Action Committee has handed out more than $500,000 in donations this year as of Aug. 31. That's slightly ahead of rival Rogers' HAL fund (that stands for Help America's Leaders, incidentally) and Lewis' Future Leaders PAC.
The chairman will probably be chosen in November by the House Republican Steering Committee.
Beyond that, Ohio and Kentucky officials are in position to move up in future sessions of Congress.
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell seems destined to be the next Senate Republican leader - starting in 2007.
The current GOP leader, Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, says he will stick with a term limits pledge that will force him to step down at the end of 2006.
McConnell's lone rival to succeed Frist, Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum, reportedly sounded out fellow members to see how he would do - and learned he would lose. Santorum said he will instead run for the No. 2 position, whip, which McConnell now holds.
Meanwhile, if Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the House's No. 2 Republican, finds himself in trouble over recent ethics scandals, Rep. John Boehner of West Chester Township could be a candidate to replace him, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported this month.
Boehner chairs the House Education Committee. He had served as the No. 4 Republican in the House during the early days of the Republican revolution.
Most observers, however, say the likely replacement for DeLay would be Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 3 Republican.
"Boehner is focused on his committee work," said his spokesman, Steve Forde. Though he also noted that Boehner spent last week doing what ambitious congressional types do - campaigning for other Republicans in close races out of state.
REPORT CARD TIME: With Congress finishing up for the year, interest groups are putting out their report cards on how often members voted their way.
The five members of the House representing Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky in Congress got zeroes from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights lobby. That means they voted against every single bill considered gay-friendly.
So did Kentucky's two senators. In Ohio, Sen. Mike DeWine earned a 25 - meaning he voted to the gay rights group's liking 25 percent of the time - and Sen. George Voinovich a 13. For more information, go to www.hrc.org.
Another group, the Arts Action Fund, graded members on support of the arts, especially funding for museums and artists.
Rep. Steve Chabot, a fiscal conservative, scored an F; Rep. John Boehner got a D and Reps. Rob Portman and Mike Turner both got B's. Northern Kentucky's Ken Lucas, who is not running for re-election, got a D.
Senators were not graded. For more information, go to www.artsactionfund.org.
THEY SAID IT: "Why aren't we going to Ohio?" --Unidentified reporter to White House spokesman Scott McLellan last Monday. McLellan explained that Bush would be back in Canton on Friday. He also will campaign in Youngstown, Lima and other Ohio cities this week.
Carl Weiser covers Washington news for the Enquirer. E-mail email@example.com or call (202) 906-8134.
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