The Nation: NRSC Memo Excoriates Filibuster on Judges

Posted May 2, 2003 at 4:52pm

It’s hardly news that the Republicans are accusing Democrats of obstructionism — and hypocrisy — as they attempt to break filibusters in the Senate over two of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

But a recent memo on the topic by National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Jay Timmons to GOP campaign managers, strategists and other interested parties was breathtaking in its scope. It dug up quotes from 29 Democratic Senators — including 13 up for re-election in 2004 and three who are running for president — in which the Democrats criticize the practice of blocking a president’s judicial nominees.

The memo included this classic quote from one of those up for re-election, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.): “Honey, it’s rude!”

Of course, a little context is necessary. Most of these quotes were offered in defense of former President Bill Clinton’s judicial nominees, and addressed the ability of Senate Republicans to hold those up. Some of the statements were more generic, however.

“This is hypocrisy at its worst,” Timmons wrote. “Senate Democrats have for years demanded ‘up or down’ floor votes for all judicial nominees. This document illustrates the duplicitous nature of Senate Democrats and shows that their actions speak louder than words.”

While there is some question of whether political candidates ever get any mileage out of this issue, Timmons seems to think so.

“Apparently the Democrats failed to learn from their historic defeat in last year’s elections,” he wrote.

— Josh Kurtz

Washington

Nethercutt’s Seattle Visit Fuels Senate Speculation

As he continues to ponder challenging Sen. Patty Murray (D) next year, Rep. George Nethercutt (R) is trying to spend more time in the voter-rich Seattle area.

Nethercutt, who has represented sparsely populated Eastern Washington since 1994, was scheduled to spend a good chunk of this past weekend in and around Seattle, sources told Roll Call.

While none of the appearances was overtly connected to a possible Senate bid, some were political events (others were official government business). Nethercutt was expected to appear at two Seattle fundraisers Friday hosted by National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) — one for Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.), the other for the Washington state Republican Party.

Ironically, Dunn, who represents a suburban Seattle district, was being wooed by state and national Republican leaders to challenge Murray, but last month she declined. Nethercutt is seen as the likeliest Republican to run now, though he isn’t expected to announce a decision until the summer.

As of March 31, Murray, a two-term Senator, had $1.6 million in her campaign treasury, compared to just $82,000 for Nethercutt.

If Nethercutt doesn’t run, Washington GOP Chairman Chris Vance is a possibility.

— J.K.

North Carolina

After Shopping Around, Snyder Runs for House

After contemplating bids for Senate and governor, attorney Jim Snyder (R) has decided to run for the open 5th district seat being vacated by Rep. Richard Burr (R).

“Our decision in what to run has been very difficult,” Snyder said at a Thursday news conference. “We are ready to go to Washington and make a difference.”

Snyder is making his second bid for federal office in as many cycles. In 2002 he ran a quixotic primary campaign against now-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R). Dole took 80 percent to Snyder’s 14 percent.

Snyder does not live within the boundaries of the Winston-Salem based district; he actually lives in Rep. Mel Watt’s (D) district.

Snyder admitted his residency is likely to be an issue in the race but said it would not be a major factor.

A number of Republicans are already in the race. Winston-Salem City Councilmen Vernon Robinson and Robert Clark, former J.P. Morgan executive Jay Helvey, state Sen. Virginia Foxx and wealthy soy executive Nathan Tabor have all indicated their intention to run.

Only Tabor filed an April quarterly financial report with the Federal Election Commission, showing $53,000 raised and $52,000 on hand.

Burr is abiding by his five-term-limit pledge and leaving the seat to run for Senate.

— Chris Cillizza

Missouri

Maxwell Dampening Senate Run Speculation

Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell (D) sought to downplay speculation late last week that he is all but certain to challenge Sen. Kit Bond (R) in 2004.

“We’re leaning toward running for re-election,” Maxwell told the Kansas City Star. Maxwell is up for a second term as lieutenant governor in 2004 and could not run for both offices simultaneously.

He is expected to make a final decision in a month’s time and is widely seen as the strongest Democrat still considering the race.

State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) has resisted repeated pleas to run against Bond and is still contemplating a primary challenge to Gov. Bob Holden. ClayCo Construction Co. President Bob Clark, who has significant personal wealth, has also been mentioned but is unlikely to run.

First elected in 1986, Bond received 52 percent and 53 percent, respectively, in his 1992 and 1998 re-election races.

Bond is a strong fundraiser — banking $1.4 million at the end of March — and his base in the Kansas City area makes it difficult for a Democrat to put together a winning coalition statewide.

— C.C.

Maryland

Seeds of Discontent In Cummings District?

A former state Delegate told Roll Call that he is considering challenging Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) next year.

The reason, said former Del. Donald Murphy (R), is simple: Cummings opposed a bill that the Maryland General Assembly passed this year legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Murphy, who has become the state’s leading advocate for medical marijuana, said it was hypocritical of Cummings to oppose that bill when he supports the government dispensing fresh hypodermic needles to drug addicts to prevent AIDS and other diseases.

“You want to be in the House of Delegates?” Murphy taunted Cummings. “Come on, I’ll trade you.”

Cummings, in fact, served in the state House before being elected to Congress in 1996. While his Baltimore-based 7th district is heavily Democratic, it became somewhat more conservative in the last round of redistricting, taking in the suburbs and exurbs of Baltimore and Howard counties.

Still, even Murphy, the Baltimore County GOP chairman, admitted that a run for Congress against Cummings would be a long shot.

Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) was a supporter of the medical marijuana legislation but is now wavering on whether to sign it, under pressure from the White House drug czar’s office.

— J.K.

New York

Monroe County Exec. Eyes Houghton Seat

Add Monroe County Executive Jack Doyle’s (R) name to the list of candidates who may run for Rep. Amo Houghton’s (R) 29th district seat in 2004 or beyond.

According to Friday’s Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Doyle told a radio interviewer that he is considering running for the Houghton seat — even though he lives in Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D) district.

Houghton, 76, who is serving his ninth term, has not said yet whether he will run again next year. Houghton raised almost $89,000 in the first three months of this year and had close to $27,000 in the bank.

But already a long line of potential Republican candidates is emerging in this fairly safe GOP district, including state Sen. James Alesi, Monroe County Legislator Mark Assini, state Sen. John Kuhl Jr., Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Bill Nojay, Monroe County Legislature Chairman Bill Smith and businessman Rick Snowden.

— J.K.