Rudy for President?

Well-connected public figures report that they have been told recently by Rudolph Giuliani that, as of now, he intends to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

The former mayor of New York was on top of last month’s national Gallup poll measuring presidential preferences by registered Republicans, with 29 percent. Sen. John McCain’s 24 percent was second, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich third at 8 percent. National polls all year have shown Giuliani running either first or second to McCain, with the rest of the presidential possibilities far behind.

Republican insiders respond to these numbers by saying rank-and-file GOP voters will abandon Giuliani once they realize his position on abortion, gay rights and gun control. Party strategists calculate that if he actually runs, he must change on at least one of these issues.

Democrat Lieberman

Supporters of Sen. Joseph Lieberman promise he will continue as a member of the Senate Democratic caucus even if he loses the Democratic primary in Connecticut Aug. 8 and is elected as an independent.

Lieberman’s decision announced last week to seek petitions to give him an independent ballot position probably helped businessman Ned Lamont’s antiwar Democratic primary campaign. Although Lieberman’s support of President Bush on the Iraq war is not popular in Connecticut, he would be heavily favored in a three-way race against Lamont and Republican former state Rep. Alan Schlesinger.

Lieberman’s Republican Senate colleagues privately despair of the GOP picking up the Connecticut seat. But they hope Lieberman, if elected as an independent, would be more inclined to vote with Republicans than he is now, even if he still caucuses with the Democrats.

Wooing Hispanics

Presidential adviser Karl Rove and Sen. Sam Brownback, two conservative Republicans who favor a guest-worker program for immigrants, will address the left-wing Hispanic advocacy group La Raza in Los Angeles this week.

La Raza was active in increasing participation in nationwide work stoppages and demonstrations April 10 after the House passed a tough border enforcement bill. La Raza in Spanish means “The Race.”

Former President Bill Clinton heads the list of speakers for the annual meeting of La Raza’s national council. The Rev. Jesse Jackson will appear on a panel.

Trial Lawyer Politics

Although it attracted no news media attention, a subcommittee hearing of the normally bipartisan House Financial Services Committee erupted in partisan furor June 28 when Republican Rep. Richard Baker of Louisiana proposed controls on lawyers engaged in securities litigation.

Baker’s subcommittee focused on the recent federal indictment of the Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman law firm in connection with class-action lawsuits. The firm in recent years has contributed $2.78 million to Democratic candidates and $22,000 to Republicans.

The Financial Services Committee’s top two Democrats — Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania — vigorously objected to a federal judge testifying about current defendants in a federal prosecution. Vaughn R. Walker, chief district judge for Northern California, gave the subcommittee his views on the indictments and Baker’s legislation.

No Dirty Tricks

Independent, pro-labor candidate Bill Scheurer remained on the ballot after last Monday’s deadline without challenge in the Chicago suburban congressional district where freshman Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean is a priority Republican target for 2006.

It had been widely expected that state House Speaker Mike Madigan, the Illinois Democratic chairman, would challenge Scheurer collection of the necessary 14,000 petition signatures for ballot access. Scheurer had filed a lawsuit alleging dirty tricks by Madigan and other Democratic leaders.

Bean was the most spectacular Democratic winner in the 2004 elections with a victory over Phil Crane, the senior Republican member of the House. She had considerable labor support in that campaign, but she lost Teamsters and state AFL-CIO backing after reneging on her campaign commitment to oppose the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Labor votes switching over to Scheurer would benefit the Republican candidate, investment banker David McSweeney.