High hopes

Posted: Jan 24, 2003 12:00 AM
Few senators, past or present, have made their presence felt as often as former Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, the first black woman ever elected to the Senate who now wants to become the nation's first black - and female - president. After one term on Capitol Hill, the 55-year-old Moseley-Braun was dethroned amid charges of campaign-finance irregularities and an unsanctioned visit to Africa. (After one door closed for the defeated lawmaker, another soon opened, as President Clinton named her ambassador to New Zealand.) Now the former senator from Illinois has informed the Democratic National Committee that she intends to return next month to Washington, where Democrats will gather to discuss their slate of candidates challenging President Bush in 2004. Meanwhile, rumors swirl around these wintry streets of Washington that the eventual Democratic front-runner (assuming it's not Moseley-Braun) will wind up choosing a woman as a running mate. That hasn't happened since Democrat Geraldine Ferraro made history alongside Walter Mondale in 1984, albeit on the losing end. One woman often mentioned as a potential vice-presidential nominee for 2004 is newly crowned House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's name is also being bounced around. But come to think of it, hasn't Mrs. Clinton already held the No. 2 post at the White House? (Couldn't help myself, Al.) And, of course, there's Moseley-Braun, who no doubt would jump at the opportunity to be vice president of the United States, given the relatively obscure school district seat she now holds in Illinois. UNDERSTANDING AMERICA Can't we all just get along? We're working on it, says the Foundation For Ethnic Understanding, which although based in New York is making its presence known in Washington. Take the foundation's first "Latino/Jewish Congressional Awards" ceremony and reception, to be held Feb. 5 on Capitol Hill, honoring Democratic Reps. Silvestre Reyes (Hispanic) of Texas and Bob Filner (Jewish) of California. Last summer, 23 congressional members attended the foundation's fourth annual Black/Jewish Congressional Forum. FLORIDA WAVE We had reported that Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida held a Washington "steering committee" meeting last week to discuss a possible bid for the Senate, assuming that Democratic Sen. Bob Graham announces he's running for president. That meeting was so jam-packed with Capitol bigwigs that lobbyists were crammed into the hallway trying to hear Foley's presentation. Now we learn that the five-term congressman held a series of "Kitchen Cabinet" meetings in South Florida this week with advisers, party leaders and fund-raisers. Once again, the turnout was described as tremendous. As a result, one Foley aide in Washington tells us that his boss, who served in both the Florida House and Senate, is being pressured to run whether Graham makes a bid for the White House or not. "The momentum is reverberating from the Sunshine State to the Capitol," says the aide, who points to impressive Republican gains in Florida last November, despite the Democratic National Committee pouring a record amount of money into the state. "Even if Graham decides to run for re-election, the amount of enthusiasm for Mark is almost making the decision for him," the aide said. FOOTBALL FAMILY We had observed this week that Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), eldest son of the late Redskins coach George Allen, would be rooting for the Oakland Raiders in this Sunday's Super Bowl. No kidding, dozens of faithful wrote to tell us, with each observing that the senator's kid brother, Bruce Allen, happens to be senior assistant with the Raiders' front office in Oakland. We tried reaching this other Mr. Allen on Wednesday but he was "busy on the practice field" in San Diego with the rest of the Raiders team, said a spokeswoman for the team.