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With Tancredo out, will another Armstrong go to Congress? Plus, John Gizzi reports the latest from the White House on No Child Left Behind possibilities.


Tancredo’s Seat Could be for William Armstrong III

With Tancredo out, will another Armstrong go to Congress? Plus, John Gizzi reports the latest from the White House on No Child Left Behind possibilities.

Declaring that I “have done all I can do in the House,” Colorado Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo announced this afternoon that, regardless of how his White House bid ends up, he will not seek re-election to his 6th District congressional seat next year.

Although five-termer Tancredo’s exit announcement caught observers in Washington and Denver by surprise, it was not totally unexpected.  The politician who arguably is more identified than anyone else with the issue of illegal immigration had been focusing on his long-shot presidential bid and had shown very few signs of planning a re-election campaign.  In addition, while Republican politicians in the Centennial State almost to a person voiced their support for Tancredo running again for Congress, several had privately begun to discuss potential GOP successors in the heavily Republican suburban Denver district.

One of them with possibly the best-known name among Colorado conservatives talked to me soon after Tancredo made his retirement plan official.

“We’ve lost a little something with Tom leaving — it’s kind of like our Rockies losing the World Series to the Red Sox last night,” said Businessman William Armstrong, III, a friend and longtime backer of Tancredo.  But 40-year-old “Wil” Armstrong is also the namesake-son of the former House Member (1972-78) and U.S. Senator (1978-90) who is easily his state’s most-revered conservative.  Indeed, in terms of his standing among both cultural and small-government conservatives nationwide, the elder Armstrong has been likened to colleague and close friend Jesse Helms (R.-N.C.) as a postwar leader.

Will “Wil” Armstrong now run for the open House seat?  “I’m thinking about it very seriously,” he told me, “and I’m seeking advice and counsel, including from my father, Tom Tancredo, and John Andrews [former state senate president and now head of a conservative think-tank]”. 

In contrast to his father — who served in both Houses of the state legislature before going to Congress — the younger Armstrong has never held nor sought office and devoted his energy to varied businesses including mortgages and community banking.  However, he has run campaigns, raised money for candidates, and worked as a volunteer “almost my entire life.”

Armstrong freely admitted that a lot more seasoned Republican politicians will surely try to win the district that George W. Bush carried with 60% of the vote in ’04 and Tancredo last won with 59%.  Among those mentioned are State Senators Ted Harvey of Pueblo and Tom Wiens of Colfax County and Secretary of State Mike Coffman, a much-decorated veteran. 

Although districtwide conventions are not held until June, Armstrong did admit that if he makes the race, the fund-raising and competing against opponents with long-records will be a grueling undertaking.  Accordingly, he said, “I’ll make a decision shortly.”

Bush Won’t Sign No Child Left Behind, If. . . .          

For the first time, the White House today did say there were circumstances under which the President would not sign reauthorization of the controversial “No Child Left Behind” federal education program.  The very clear signal about NCLB, which the President signed five years ago and whose reauthorization he has vigorously backed, may be substantially amended by Senate Education and Labor Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass) and his House counterpart, Rep. George Miller (D.-Calif.).  In addition, almost 60 House and Senate Republicans led by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R.-Mich) have sought to water down the measure and ease the requirements NCLB has made of states in order to qualify for federal funding.

Although the President believes that the reauthorized measure “should provide for some additional flexibility,” White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told me at Monday’s gaggle (early morning briefing for White House reporters), he “won’t relax” his call for standards that all students in public schools be peforming at a top level in mathematics and English by 2014.

As for a veto of a No Child bill that would be substantially amended by the Democratic-controlled Congress, Perino replied: “It’s way to early” to be talking about a veto.  But, she quickly added, “the President will not sign a bill that weakens those standards [involving math and English]” — hinting, for the first time publicly, that there are criterion that if Congess fails to meet, it would invite a veto.

Perino also predicted that Democratic efforts to revive the vetoed State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) would fail because Senate and House Democrats “still don’t have enough to override that veto.”

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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