Robert Novak

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, who in 1998 voted against both counts of President Bill Clinton's impeachment, has received a $1,000 contribution from Clinton's New York political operative, Harold Ickes Jr.

Specter faces a tough Pennsylvania GOP primary challenge next year from conservative Rep. Pat Toomey. Ickes' firm lobbies the Senate on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union. Specter chairs the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Labor Department.

A footnote: Specter has received a $1,250 contribution from another prominent Democratic lobbyist: Jack Valenti, longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America, who was a top aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson.

W'S IRISH FRIEND

Social conservative activists who have been unable to see President Bush for a year were enraged Wednesday when he met with left-wing Irish rock singer Bono, who demands greater funding against AIDS in Africa.

Louisiana Republican State Rep. Tony Perkins, newly named as president of the Family Research Council, has not seen the president. Bono repaid Bush by blasting the pace of U.S. AIDS spending.

While pollsters advise Bush to take a centrist posture for re-election, social conservatives say he is risking their support.

THE GENERAL'S AIDE

Gen. Wesley Clark began his campaign for president on one wrong step, in the opinion of President Bill Clinton's former aides, by hiring ex-Clinton and Gore adviser Mark Fabiani.

Fabiani got low marks from Clinton insiders as deputy campaign manager for communications and strategy in Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. They complain that Fabiani relied too much on polls and not enough on the issues.

A footnote: Clark picked up two early important supporters in Congress: Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a former Clinton White House aide.

LIBERAL JUDGE

Participation by one of the most liberal federal judges in the 9th Circuit Court's postponement of the California recall election may generate support for a bill by Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho to break up the huge circuit. He would separate the mountain states and the Pacific Northwest from California, Nevada and Arizona.

Judge Harry Pregerson, a notorious judicial activist named to the court by President Jimmy Carter, was the senior member of the three-judge panel postponing the recall. In his 1979 confirmation hearing, Pregerson said he would follow his conscience rather than legislative intent if necessary. This year, he refused "in good conscience" to go along with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that "three-strikes-and-out" legislation is constitutional.

Another member of the panel is Judge Richard Paez, an appointee of President Bill Clinton who was confirmed by the Senate in 2000 despite Republican accusations of judicial activism.

CHALLENGING BOXER

Former Secretary of State Bill Jones, the last Republican to win a statewide election in California, has been inspired by the GOP resurgence in the governor's recall effort to consider challenging Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer for re-election next year.

Jones was widely regarded as the strongest Republican general election candidate against Gov. Gray Davis last year, but his under-financed campaign failed in the primary. Jones endorsed Sen. John McCain against George W. Bush for president in 2000, but he tells friends the White House would not oppose his Senate bid.

Another possible foe of Boxer is Rep. Darrell Issa, who personally financed the recall drive against Davis. He was given a standing ovation at last weekend's Republican State Convention in Los Angeles, but he angered former supporters by withdrawing from the race for governor without notifying them. Former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin is running, but not impressing many Republicans.


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.
 

 
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