Inside Report: Democratic carpenters

Posted: Aug 10, 2002 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON -- The Carpenters Union, the object of ardent wooing by President Bush since it left the AFL-CIO last year, has just contributed $1 million to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). That brings the union's DSCC donations for the 2002 campaign to $1,250,000, compared with $635,000 for the 2000 election cycle. Carpenters President Douglas McCarron has been a principal target of President Bush's effort to spin blue-collar unions away from the labor movement's Democratic alignment. However, McCarron has made clear he supports continued Democratic control of the Senate, in view of Republican opposition to the Davis-Bacon Act (which sets prevailing union wages for government labor contracts). The Carpenters are much friendlier to House Republicans, contributing to more than 50 of them for their re-election this year. The union has given the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) $765,000 for 2002, down from $1,225,000 for 2000. TORCH UPGRADED After the Senate Ethics Committee censured Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) upgraded him to become the fifth most vulnerable Democratic incumbent seeking re-election this year. Listed ahead of Torricelli as the NRSC's top targets are Sens. Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, Jean Carnahan of Missouri and Max Cleland of Georgia, in that order. Cleland and Torricelli have moved ahead of Iowa's Sen. Tom Harkin, who now has dropped to No. 6 on the Republican hit list of vulnerables -- mainly because of how much money is available. Rep. Greg Ganske, who had to survive a rugged primary fight in Iowa to win the Republican nomination, is down to $600,000 cash on hand compared to Harkin's $3 million. LAURA CAMPAIGNING Texans willing to contribute $5,000 to the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican candidate John Cornyn can be photographed with Laura Bush Wednesday in Austin. George W. Bush is not the only member of the First Family who will take advantage of the month-long August vacation to raise Republican money. Mrs. Bush will travel from the presidential ranch to the state capital for a Cornyn fund-raising lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel. The price: $250 a plate, $2,500 a table and $5,000 for a photo opportunity. The seat of retiring Republican Sen. Phil Gramm, once thought certain to remain in the GOP's possession, is now considered a close race. State Attorney General Cornyn's Democratic opponent is former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk. "AMERICA'S MAYOR" Sponsors of Rudolph Giuliani's national lecture tour are charging top dollar to hear the former mayor of New York, asking $95 a ticket for a Sept. 4 appearance at the Murat Theater in Indianapolis. With Giuliani billed as "America's mayor," the Wednesday evening event offers "a complimentary dessert and coffee buffet and cash bar." A "lively question and answer session" is promised following Giuliani's speech. The $95 tab is higher than the usual lecture ticket even though the former mayor's speech is underwritten by business interests (headed by Eli Lilly pharmaceutical manufacturers). Giuliani reportedly receives $100,000 a speech. GOP ABORTION SPLIT Ann Stone, long the most visible Republican activist for abortion rights, has split from and enraged other pro-choice activists by calling on them to "cease their attacks" on Bush federal judicial nominee Priscilla Owen. "This nomination is not the right fight," said Stone, chairman of the Republicans for Choice political action committee. Owen, nominated to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled on the Texas Supreme Court in favor of parental abortion notification. "In looking at the complete record I cannot see any reason to oppose her," Stone concluded. That generated an attack from other pro-choice Republicans on Stone, a familiar face at GOP national conventions unsuccessfully trying to remove anti-abortion language from the party platform. Planned Parenthood Republicans for Choice assailed Stone for supporting "an anti-choice, extremist judicial nominee" and demanded that Stone change her organization's name. The Republican Pro-Choice Coalition also opposes Owen.