Long knives after Ari

Posted: Oct 26, 2002 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON -- Ari Fleischer's remarks about false alarm suspects in the Washington sniper case produced rare private criticism of the presidential spokesman from middle levels of the White House staff. At Monday's daily briefing, Fleischer was asked about the arrest outside Richmond, Va., of two illegal immigrants. After he referred to "the arrests," Fleischer was asked whether "there's been two arrests, more than one." Fleischer replied: "I know there has been more than one." He quickly backed away when pressed for details. Although Fleischer's comments were brief and limited, they brought out long knives wielded by his colleagues. They complained that since the departure of Communications Director Karen Hughes, Fleischer has been riding too high -- as when he seemed to welcome the assassination of Iraq's Saddam Hussein. A TEAMSTER SENATOR? Alaska Teamsters leader Jerry Hood may become the big union's first member of the U.S. Senate if Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski is elected governor of Alaska Nov. 5. Murkowski as governor would appoint his own successor. He may select Hood, who as secretary-treasurer of Local 959 has been Alaska's top Teamsters official since 1994. He has worked closely with Murkowski in unsuccessful efforts to authorize drilling in Alaska's ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). A longtime Democratic activist and former Democratic National Committeeman, Hood re-registered as a Republican earlier this year. Labor sources say the other two members of Alaska's all-Republican delegation -- Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young -- have signed on to the Hood appointment. LOBBYIST QUAYLE Former Vice President Dan Quayle's Phoenix-based consulting firm, Quayle & Associates, has registered with the federal government as a lobbyist for two firms. The Quayle clients are Aterhays, Ind., a genomics and biopharmaceutical company, and Cerberus Capital Partners, a capital management firm. The Aterhays registration calls for lobbying of the White House and Congress "relative to the issues of cloning and new technology, using adult stem cells instead of embryonic cells." The Cerberus registration talks about "working to help build relationships with several agencies" (Energy, Commerce, FEMA and Homeland Security). Craig Whitney, a longtime Quayle aide, is listed in the official registration as the former vice president's lobbying contact. LOUISIANA HAYRIDE Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu hovering in Louisiana polls below 45 percent for re-election to the Senate brings further uncertainty to control of the Senate for the next two years. Under Louisiana's unusual election system, a Dec. 7 runoff will be held if nobody gets 50 percent of the vote Nov. 5. Landrieu may yet achieve that standard, however. A big undecided vote remains, and the candidate closest to Landrieu -- Republican State Election Commissioner Suzie Terrell -- is recording around 20 percent in public and private polls. A footnote: If Republican Jim Talent holds his lead over appointed Sen. Jean Carnahan in Missouri, the GOP is set take control of the Senate during a lameduck post-election session of Congress. If Landrieu is not elected outright Nov. 5, Republican leaders will try to force her into tough votes prior to the runoff. RIGHT-WING DEMOCRAT One likely Democratic congressional pickup Nov. 5 in southern Tennessee, State Sen. Lincoln Davis, would be likely to vote with House Republicans on abortion, gun and tax issues more often than with his Democratic colleagues. The Tennessee Conservative Union (TCU) leadership prefers Davis to Republican Alderman Janice Bowling of Tullahoma for the seat opened by Republican Rep. Van Hilleary's candidacy for governor. The TCU lists Davis as a hero of the "Axe the Tax" movement against Republican Gov. Don Sundquist's tax program. It predicts Davis would be the most right-wing Democrat in Congress since the late Rep. Larry McDonald died in 1983 when Soviet fighter planes shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007. A footnote: The TCU has not endorsed former Gov. Lamar Alexander for Tennessee's open Senate seat against Democratic Rep. Bob Clement. Although Clement votes a moderately liberal line in Congress, some conservatives prefer him to Alexander on the tax question.