Tom DeLay Stirs Concern Among Conservatives

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is about to return to the Washington political scene as a high-profile operative for the American Conservative Union (ACU) if his negotiations with ACU Chairman David Keene are successfully completed.

DeLay, who has moved his residence from Texas to Washington’s Virginia suburbs, would serve as a high-profile strategist and lobbyist for the ACU to promote conservative causes.

Although DeLay is highly regarded among conservatives in the face of his prosecution by a Democratic district attorney in Austin, such support is not universal. At least two ACU board members have threatened to resign if the deal with DeLay is consummated.

Obama Will Enter ’08 Race

Contrary to reports that Barack Obama is still trying to make up his mind whether to seek the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, sources close to the first-term senator say he is unequivocally committed to making the race.

The word has spread through political circles that Obama’s wife, Michelle, is resisting the campaign out of fear for her husband’s physical safety as an African-American candidate for president. But an Obama insider dismissed that as a problem. "We took care of that last summer," he told this column.

A footnote: Obama advisers were surprised how much the prospect of his campaign has shaken front-running Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. For the first time, she has asserted that she would have voted against going to war in Iraq if she knew then what she knows now.

Howard Dean’s Dilemma

Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean faces a dilemma over the party’s 2008 national convention. He would prefer Denver, but he may have to be content with New York.

Denver lacks sufficient hotel facilities, a suitable arena and labor union support, not to mention adequate financing. But when New York was leaked as the site, the reaction was so negative that Dean delayed a decision. Party members complained that it would be the fourth out of the last nine Democratic conventions scheduled for New York. Backers of Hillary Clinton don’t want her nominated in her place of residence. George H.W. Bush and John Kerry lost elections when nominated in their respective hometowns of Houston and Boston.

A footnote: The Democrats’ first choice for ’08 was Minneapolis, a rare city that wanted the conventions in this round. But Republicans beat them to the punch in scheduling their convention there. Democratic party rules prohibit them from convening in the same place (as they did in Miami Beach in 1972).

Rudy’s Agent in California

California conservative Republican Bill Simon has begun building a network of support in the Golden State for the prospective presidential campaign of his old boss, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Simon, son of the late Secretary of the Treasury William Simon, was Republican nominee for governor of California in 2002. He was a prosecutor working for Giuliani, then U.S. attorney in New York City, in 1986-88.

Simon has been arranging get-acquainted meetings for Giuliani with prominent California conservatives to show them he is not all that liberal and really is a Republican.

Hurricane Katrina’s Echo

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, much criticized for her conduct in confronting Hurricane Katrina, has not decided whether to seek a second term in 2007. Some fellow Democrats are hoping she doesn’t.

Blanco barely defeated Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal in 2003 and might be hard-pressed in a rematch. Rep. Charles Melancon would be a stronger candidate against Jindal but, as a personal friend of Blanco, will not oppose her if she runs again.

Melancon’s coastal district was hit hard by Katrina, and his performance made him one of the heroes of the disaster in contrast to the governor. Jim Nickel, a former state Democratic chairman, told this column that Melancon is a "conservative Democrat, the kind of Democrat that Louisiana likes to elect. He’s pretty much what we’re looking for."