8/24/2002 12:00:00 AM - Robert Novak
WASHINGTON -- James Comey, the new U.S. attorney in New York
City named by President Bush, is viewed in the capital's GOP circles as an
ambitious politician trying to parlay the prosecutor's office into elective
office, in much the way that Rudolph Giuliani did.
In contrast to low-profile predecessor Mary Jo White, the
41-year-old Comey made worldwide headlines by accusing an alleged Russian
mobster of conspiring to fix Olympic figure skating competition. Shut out of
the Enron prosecution, Comey won Justice Department approval to go after
Comey has not pleased Republican lawyers by insisting that
accused corporate executives who had surrendered voluntarily be manacled and
perform a well-photographed perp walk. However, the spectacle was enjoyed by
the prosecutor's boss: George W. Bush.
The adverse publicity of laying off 25 campaign staffers was
another wound to Republican Bill Simon's troubled campaign for governor of
California, but insiders say the political neophyte's mistake was using
hired workers instead of volunteers from the beginning.
Simon's campaign payroll exceeded 100, compared to about 30 by
Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (who had use of public employees). With $5
million cash on hand for Simon compared with Davis's $32 million, the
Republican candidate had insufficient funds to meet his payroll and still
respond to the governor's attacks.
A footnote: A jury's fraud judgment against William E. Simon &
Sons could be overturned by a judge who agreed Wednesday to review the case.
It may be too late to reverse the devastating political damage to Simon's
Kansas Gov. Bill Graves, a liberal Republican, faces a conflict
between his desire to join the Bush Cabinet and his unhappiness with the GOP
nominee to succeed him as governor.
When Graves finishes eight years as governor next January, he
will come to Washington to head the American Trucking Association. But
capital sources say he will stay close to the telephone, anticipating a call
from George W. Bush asking him to be secretary of transportation.
The problem is that Graves has not endorsed conservative
Treasurer Tim Shallenburger, who won the primary for governor in the
ideologically divided Kansas Republican Party. Bush can hardly name anybody
to his Cabinet who is staying neutral in a tough partisan contest in his own
state between Shallenburger and Democratic State Insurance Commissioner
CIVIL LIBERTIES VOID
Republican civil libertarians are concerned about the depletion
of their meager ranks in Congress by the defeat last Tuesday in the Georgia
primary of Rep. Bob Barr, following the retirement of House Majority Leader
Armey and especially Barr have been rare Republican voices
questioning Attorney General John Ashcroft's methods fighting terrorism. In
fact, Barr's public criticism of Ashcroft may have hurt him in the
Republican primary against Rep. John Linder.
A footnote: Linder's victory keeps in Congress a leading
national sales tax advocate. With Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson of
Minnesota, he is co-sponsor of the "fair tax" (abolishing the federal income
tax and replacing it with a sales tax).
Republican national strategists have added first-term Sen. Wayne
Allard of Colorado to the list of most endangered GOP incumbent senators
even though the most recent polls show him still leading his Democratic
opponent, former U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland.
The latest public poll, conducted Aug. 1-11 for KCNC-TV and the
Rocky Mountain News, reflects a 42 percent to 34 percent lead for Allard.
The last Democratic survey, taken for Strickland a week earlier, gave Allard
a 3-percentage point lead. Nevertheless, GOP strategists fear an unpleasant
surprise in Colorado.
A footnote: The most vulnerable GOP incumbent is Sen. Bob Smith
of New Hampshire against Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, though he trails in
the Republican primary against Rep. John E. Sununu. Sen. Tim Hutchinson of
Arkansas, facing Democratic State Atty. Gen. Mark Pryor, is considered the
only other seriously challenged Republican senator.