Charlie Rangel's ticket

Robert Novak
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Posted: Oct 14, 2006 12:01 AM
Charlie Rangel's ticket

WASHINGTON -- Republican-oriented tax lobbyists are interpreting late campaign solicitations as a requirement for a ticket to enter the office of Rep. Charles Rangel as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in a Democratic-controlled House.

Both freelance and corporate lobbyists have received telephone solicitations for Rangel's leadership PAC (political action committee), which distributes funds to Democratic congressional candidates who need them. Rangel is virtually unopposed in his Harlem district. The lobbyists, who give almost exclusively to Republicans, are told that the contribution would be "a nice gesture for Charlie."

Rangel issued a statement that in his 42 years of state and federal legislative office, "campaign contributions have never been required or even suggested as a way to get access to me."

FOLEY SCANDAL VICTIM

A Republican campaign operative with a reputation for accuracy has put Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, on the list of incumbent Republicans who are "gone" -- that is, sure to lose their seats on Nov. 7.

Reynolds's prominence as a Republican leader who was responsible for handling Rep. Mark Foley of Florida has dropped him 15 points below his Democratic opponent in his supposedly safe upstate New York district, according to a poll taken by John Zogby after the scandal broke.

Reynolds was slumping even before the Foley affair made news. Republicans and Democrats alike try to pick their campaign chairmen from House members who do not have to defend their own seats in Congress. However, industrialist Jack Davis, a self-financed former Republican, is running a vigorous campaign against Reynolds in his second try at defeating him.

AMBASSADOR HASTERT?

A question asked on Capitol Hill is whether the Mark Foley scandal will kill House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's longtime ambition to be named U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Even if Republicans retain control of the House this year, Hastert is considered unlikely to get a fifth term as speaker. Hastert as a young man was a summer English-language teacher in Japan and would like to return as his nation's diplomatic representative. What is in doubt is whether the Foley scandal casts a cloud over his confirmation.

A footnote: Republican contributors in Washington were surprised Tuesday to receive an invitation from Hastert for a Thursday night $2,000-a-plate fund-raising dinner for Colorado State Sen. Doug Lamborn, who is running for a Republican-held congressional seat contested by Democrats. The GOP faithful were ready to show up at Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse in Washington to show solidarity for the embattled speaker only to learn that Hastert would not be there himself.

ADULT-CHILD SEX

The House page scandal has prompted Republicans to bring up the 1999 decision by Rep. Ted Strickland, this year's Democratic candidate for governor of Ohio, to abstain from a House resolution condemning an American Psychological Association (APA) study that said adult-child sex could be good for children.

Strickland is considered an ideological moderate but, as a psychologist, he joined 12 left-wing Democratic House members in not voting on the resolution. The final roll call was 355 in favor and 13 voting "present." Strickland assailed the House for voting to "condemn a scientific study." The APA later withdrew the study.

The latest poll shows Strickland leading Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell by 13 percent in the race for governor.

RUDY'S BURDEN

Prominent Republican insiders say that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential ambitions have sustained a blow because of his secondhand relationship to controversy involving Jeanine Pirro, the Republican candidate for attorney general of New York.

Pirro hired Bernard Kerik, Giuliani's friend and former police commissioner, to eavesdrop on her wayward husband. As Westchester County district attorney, in 2004, she hired the Giuliani-Kerik firm.

Giuliani leads national polls of Republican presidential possibilities and has indicated interest in making a run for the White House in 2008. Republicans feel Giuliani's connection with Kerik may be one piece of baggage too many for the mayor to carry nationally.