Mayor Tony Williams and celebrity tennis coach Kathy Kemper opened the INFO Public Policy Breakfast Roundtable yesterday, not with prayer, but with a pep rally leading a spirited group of opinion-makers in song. Jerry Jasinowski, Doug Patton, Norm Ornstein, John Fox Sullivan, George Vradenburg, Charlie Brotman and Barbara Morris-Lent were among those who joined in a cheerful rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” After a 34-year lapse, some of us needed a refresher course on the lyrics.
Steve Lombardo,political consultant and INFO’s self-appointed resident pollster, announced results of the most important event of 2004 – among this group, President Bush’s re-election beat out the return of baseball to D.C. by only four percent (52 percent to 48 percent). That makes two near victories in a row for the president.Another poll was taken to select an appropriate mascot for the Washington Nationals. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was the clear winner with 34 percent of the vote, possibly because, as one pollee said, he could exterminate the competition (referring to DeLay’s previous job). Two women tied for second place: D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. One pollee voted for Rice “because she will say we won even when we lost,” and another “because she knows what it’s like to go 30 years without a date in D.C.!”
The election isn’t until next year, but Mayor Williams, nevertheless acting like a candidate, said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll run for another term. Mayoral wannabes aren’t wasting any time when it comes to fund raising. Tonight, Council Member Adrian Fenty’s team (numbering 87!) “explores” his run over cocktails at the Kalorama home of campaign finance watchdog Marie Drissel, known as “DC’s rottweiler.” Fenty is one of four hopefuls who have formed exploratory committees; the others are Council Member Vincent Orange, D.C. Democratic Chairman Scott Bolden, and Michael Brown — son of Ron. By forming exploratory committees, these mayoral hopefuls face no restrictions on fund raising. Council Member Jack Evans, however, who is in favor of some reforms to local campaign finance laws, is practicing what he preaches: He’s exploring a run without the benefit of an exploratory committee.
Who said you can’t go home again?
One of the president’s closest friends, former Commerce Secretary Don Evans, has been eager to return to the oil and gas business in Midland, Texas, where he went to school with the First Lady. Evans told another classmate that he missed not having friends in D.C., except, of course, the president, “but he didn’t see him often enough.”You can take the boy out of Midland, but …
Montana Sen. Conrad Burns is one Republican who didn’t mince words when he talked to me about the president the other day: “[President] Bush says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when you put a deal on the table. He won’t tell you why … he’s thick-headed … he runs on guts. He cut his teeth in the oil fields of Midland. … All us oil guys are like that.” Enough said.
Reorder in the Court
It’s still a burning Beltway question: Will Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 80, and in failing health, be able to serve on the bench until this session concludes in June? Rumors have President Bush handing down an appointment for the top job to a conservative already on the High Court. Insiders say Justice Antonin Scalia, known for his screaming tirades, doesn’t have a judicial temperament. In contrast, Justice Clarence Thomas has a record of silence. He doesn’t ask questions and doesn’t say much, but he also doesn’t care who he inconveniences, say insiders. They tell me everything runs on “Thomas time.” Ah, yet another D.C. time zone. … Remember “Clinton time?”