Pataki for UN?

Robert Novak
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Posted: Jan 22, 2005 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Sources close to New York Gov. George Pataki say he has been asked whether he would consider filling the vacancy of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

 No firm offer has been made to Pataki, who is without diplomatic or international experience. The U.N. assignment would immediately rule out Pataki for a possible fourth term as governor next year. However, experience in international affairs might boost his 2008 presidential ambitions.

 President Bush is under pressure to fill the U.N. vacancy, created Thursday when the resignation of John Danforth (after serving only six months) became effective. During Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearings, Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice was pushed to replace Danforth immediately.

CANDIDATE KERRY

 Sen. John Kerry's unexpected vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee against Condoleezza Rice's confirmation as secretary of state suggested the 2004 candidate is interested in another try for president.

 Based on his Senate record, Kerry might have been predicted to follow the lead of Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the top Democrat on Foreign Relations: express disappointment and reservations, but vote for Rice anyway. Instead, he was the only committee member other than Sen. Barbara Boxer of California to vote no.

 Kerry's vote appealed to Democratic primary voters, who tend to be more anti-Bush than the party's leaders. His opposition to Rice could attract supporters of Howard Dean, who has sworn off running for president in '08 if he is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

PRO-CHOICE REPUBLICAN

 Joann Davidson, a supporter of abortion rights elected on Wednesday as co-chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), has privately promised social conservatives not to speak to any pro-choice groups while she holds her party post.

 Davidson's selection triggered criticism in the pro-life movement, but she is given a high rating by President Bush's political inner circle. A former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, she was chairman of Bush's campaign in her state where a win was necessary for the president's re-election. Davidson was a counterforce to unpopular Republican Gov. Bob Taft, who was no help for Bush.

 The RNC's co-chairmanship almost always goes to a pro-choice woman but is a job with no power. Davidson has pledged to support whatever the president wants.

DISINVITED GOVERNOR?

 Organizers of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), stunned by the unexpected tax increase proposed by newly elected Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, are considering disinviting him from their meeting in Washington next month.

 Daniels, a longtime Republican political operative and President George W. Bush's first budget director, was the only governor invited to CPAC this year. Board members of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, selected Daniels before he unveiled his tax hike in his state-of-the-state address Tuesday.

 To cope with Indiana's $1.3 billion budget shortfall, Daniels requested a 1 percent tax hike on income above $100,000 a year. Daniels defends this on grounds the tax boost would expire after only one year.

TARGETED IN MINNESOTA

 First term Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who depleted his fortune as Dayton-Hudson department store heir by spending $25 million in four statewide political campaigns, is being targeted by Republicans as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat in 2006.

 Dayton spent $12 million of his own money to provide nearly all funding for his election in 2000, and his net worth is now officially disclosed as $5 million to $15 million. Facing the need to raise money for the first time, he recently fired his top fund-raisers after he finished the third quarter of 2004 with just $271,000 cash on hand.

 In addition to money problems, Dayton slumped in the polls after he alone among U.S. senators closed his Washington offices because of an alleged terrorist threat. Former Rep. Bill Luther is considering a Democratic primary challenge against Dayton. The senator's Republican opponent is expected to be a well-funded Rep. Mark Kennedy.