Politics 2003Week of January 20

WHO’S WHO ON CAPITOL HILL With the new Republican-controlled House in place, a number of faces familiar to conservatives are emerging in key staff positions, among them: Jason Roe, onetime press secretary to conservative Rep. Nick Smith (R.-Mich.) and campaign manager for the nationally watched re-election effort of House impeachment manager Rep. (1996-2000) Jim Rogan (R-Calif.) two years ago, is now chief of staff to freshman Rep. Tom Feeney (R.-Fla.). Prior to joining Feeney’s staff, Roe had worked as top aide to Rogan at the U.S. Patent Office. . . . Chris Ingam, formerly on the staffs of Sen. (1992-2000) Paul Coverdell (R.-Ga.) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R.-Ga.), has become top aide to a third Georgia Republican, freshman Rep. Max Burns. Ingam was also a past vice president of the Luntz Polling Co. . . . Steve Sutton has left as top aide to stalwart conservative Rep. Lee Terry (R.-Neb.) to become chief of staff for freshman Rep. John Kline (R.-Minn.). . . . Boyd Marcus, known for years in Richmond, Va., as “the man to see” because of his reputation as the top political operative for former Republican Gov. (1997-2001) Jim Gilmore, is returning to Washington to be chief of staff for Rep. Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), chief deputy whip for House Republicans. Marcus was formerly the right-hand man for Cantor’s predecessor, conservative Rep. (1980-2000) Tom Bliley, Jr. . . . Kate Whitman—daughter of Environmental Protection Administrator Christine Todd Whitman—has left the U.S. Labor Department public affairs office to become director of communications for House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Christopher Cox (Calif.). . . . Rob Schwarzwalber has just left as a speechwriter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson to become chief of staff to sophomore Rep. Todd Aiken (R.-Mo.), a staunch conservative. . . . Over on the Senate side: Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R.-N.C.) has tapped Frank Hill, Jr. for the helm of her office. Hill was longtime chief of staff to conservative Rep. (1984-94) Alex McMillan (R.-N.C.). . . . Mitch Bainwol, who had planned to enter the private sector after a productive year as operating head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee under Chairman Bill Frist (Tenn.), has taken a career detour: He will now become chief of staff to newly elected Senate Majority Leader Frist. PEACH STATE POWER PLAY Two months after their greatest triumph in memory and just days before Sonny Perdue was sworn in as the first Republican governor of their state since Reconstruction, Georgia Republicans moved to flex their political muscle in the state senate. State Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah was elected the first Republican leader of the senate since 1871. With the GOP in control of the senate by a margin of 30 to 26 seats, Demo-_cratic Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor saw most of his powers to name committee members and control the flow of legislation removed. Now Taylor will only preside over the senate, as the state constitution requires. Already, there is talk of Johnson’s moving on to Congress if fellow conservative Republican Rep. Jack Kingston runs for the open U.S. Senate seat next year. In the state house, where Democrats still rule, Republicans had a plan to join in a coalition with some Democrats and elect conservative Democratic State Rep. Larry Walker as speaker. But, with Gov.-elect Perdue making the final call, the plan was scrapped when GOPers realized they didn’t have enough votes to stop Democratic State Rep. Terry Coleman. Thus, Coleman was elected on a party line vote as the first new speaker in three decades, succeeding former Speaker Tom Murphy (who was defeated for re-election in the GOP sweep last fall). NEW JERSEY, THE NEXT GENERATION With New Jersey State Assemblyman Scott Garrett sworn in as a U.S. representative last week, there is mounting interest in whom Republicans will select to replace him in the legislature from historically Republican District 24 (Sussex County). Much of the interest is spawned by the fact that the leading candidate for the endorsement of the GOP county committee on January 25 is Alison Littell McHose, daughter of conservative State Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Littell (for whom Allison works as legislative assistant) and State GOP Chairman Ginnie Littell. McHose’s grandfather, Alfred Littell, was senate president and her great-grandfather was also a state senator. At the same time, Littell is also becoming a favorite of conservatives. In a state where party leaders increasingly advise “moderating” the message, the onetime aide to Lynne Cheney makes no secret of her anti-abortion stance (“I’m pro-life, period”) and her support of the 2nd Amendment (husband Morgan McHose helps train National Guard soldiers and is a National Rifle Association member). SHORT TAKES Never Rule Out Nethercutt: Although the White House has made no secret of its desire to see Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R.-Wash) oppose leftist Democratic Sen. Patty Murray next year (see “Politics 2003,” January 13), fellow GOP Rep. George Nethercutt has nonetheless indicated he is also seriously considering the race. According to spokeswoman April Gentry, Nethercutt (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 91%), best known for unseating then-Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994, “is examining the situation and keeping all of his options open”. . . . Dunn Job for May: In considering the Senate race, eight-termer Dunn dismissed published reports that she had decided to leave Congress for the job as chief operating officer of the Air Transport Association, with its $700,000 annual salary and generous expense account. Last week, the ATA announced that it had found someone for the “crown jewel” of Washington trade association jobs: veteran lobbyist Jim May. Formerly a top lobbyist with the Grocery Manufacturers of America, Pepsico, and the National Association of Broadcasters, May is also someone who grew up in conservative politics as the son of conservative former Rep. (1956-70) Catherine May Bedell (R.-Wash.). . . . Latest Convert: At a time when liberal Democrats and the media are doing their utmost to convince black voters that they are unwelcome in the Republican Party, the latest elected official to move from Democrat to Republican is one of Alabama’s most durable black politicians: State Rep. Johnny Ford, formerly mayor of Tuskegee. Five-termer Ford, who made headlines as the first black office-holder to endorse George Wallace in his successful comeback bid for governor in 1982, agreed to cross the aisle following several conversations with Alabama’s just-elected Republican Gov. Bob Riley. His change makes the line-up in the state house of representatives 63 Democrats and 42 Republicans. . . . Continuance in Connecticut: Connecticut Gov. John Rowland (R.) has tapped lawyer Howard Shepardson to succeed State Republican Chairman Chris DePino, who recently resigned to launch his own lobbying company. Shepardson and DePino are both considered moderate Republicans. . . Raising Kane: Although conservatives were skeptical about new Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s choice of businessman John Kane as state party chairman in Maryland, they nonetheless gave moderate Kane high marks on his choice last week of Eric Sutton as executive director of the party. Formerly a field director for conservative Republican Ray Clatworthy’s Senate race in Delaware in 1996 and as a field operative for Phil Gramm’s presidential bid that year, Sutton most recently has been executive director of the Delaware Republican Party. In that capacity, he oversaw the re-election of all statewide, legislative, and local Republican incumbents to office last year and the defeat of three incumbent Democratic state representatives, which gave First State Republicans a 29-to-12 “veto proof” House. . . . Roskam Returns: At a time when Illinois Republicans have replaced a conservative state chairman with a decided moderate (reportedly at the behest of White House political operative Karl Rove), it was heartening for Prairie State conservatives to find themselves with one of their own in the No. 2 leadership position in the state senate. State Sen. Pete Roskam was elected Republican whip last week. A former aide to Rep. Henry Hyde (R.-Ill.) and a state representative for six years, Wheaton lawyer Roskam became a favorite on the right when he sought the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Rep. (1984-98) Harris Fawell (R.-Ill.) in 1998. In a race that focused on Roskam’s leadership for a ban on state funding for partial birth abortion and his unabashed pro-2nd Amendment stance, the conservative hopeful was nosed out by present Rep. Judy Bigert, who took opposite stands on both issues.