Politics

Bloomberg’s Sooner Ally

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the University of Oklahoma commencement address May 11, he engaged in a long, private discussion about 2008 politics with university president and maverick Democrat David Boren.

According to New York political sources, they discussed a role Boren might play in an independent Bloomberg campaign for president — generating speculation about a Bloomberg-Boren ticket. In introducing Bloomberg for his commencement speech, Boren praised the mayor’s record stabilizing his city’s budget and strengthening its economy after the 9/11 attack.

Boren was governor of Oklahoma before serving 16 years in the U.S. Senate. A moderate Democrat, he clashed with President Bill Clinton and left the Senate in 1994 to take the University of Oklahoma post. He declined Ross Perot’s offer of the Reform Party vice-presidential nomination in 1996 but said he might be open to a 2000 draft.

UNHAPPY WITH NANCY

The powerful left wing of the House Democratic Caucus is unhappy with Speaker Nancy Pelosi for being too attentive to a handful of moderate members, especially those elected last year from normally Republican districts.

Protesting liberals grumble Pelosi has been too cautious setting policy during six months in the majority, especially regarding the Iraq war. The response is that Democrats will revert to minority status in the House if they stray too far to the left.

A footnote: Some liberal Democratic House members returned after the Memorial Day recess to tell colleagues how they were assailed by normally staunch supporters during town meetings, complaining not nearly enough had been done to end the Iraq intervention.

SENATORS TO PARIS

Sen. Ted Stevens, the Senate’s senior Republican, led nine other senators out of Washington Thursday night to the annual Paris Air Show. That enabled the Senate to take off Friday rather than continuing work on the energy bill.

Stevens, designated by President Bush as his representative at the air show, told this column his delegation had planned to leave the Capitol Friday but said "we changed the departure time" after learning there would be no votes Friday. Senate aides, however, said no votes were scheduled Friday because Stevens and his colleagues were leaving the night before.

Stevens’s office refused to reveal the names of the other senators going to Paris.

QUAKER PRESSURE

A Quaker peace lobby is soliciting political donors to pressure members of Congress they have supported financially to force a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

Jay O’Hara of the Friends Committee on National Legislation signed a June 8 letter to contributors of lawmakers who criticized President Bush’s war policy but had not advocated outright withdrawal. One Republican activist who had contributed to Rep. Michael Castle of Delaware was asked: "Will you work with us to urge Representative Castle to start voting with the will of the American people and the people of Delaware on this issue?"

The mailing also requests unspecified cash donations to the Friends Committee.

CONGRESS TO COLLEGE?

Independent-minded Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois will leave Capitol Hill after 30 years as a House member and staffer if offered the presidency of his alma mater, Bradley University, in his hometown of Peoria. LaHood’s liability in seeking the post is that he has no degree higher than a bachelor’s.

A LaHood fund-raising coffee scheduled for last Wednesday on Capitol Hill was called off Monday with a terse e-mail: "Cancelled Till Further Notice." LaHood told me it would be "a little unseemly" to raise campaign money while he awaited Bradley’s decision, though that is common practice by congressional colleagues facing similar situations.

LaHood was chief of staff for House Minority Leader Bob Michel and later a close associate of Speaker Dennis Hastert. But he was one of only three House Republicans who did not sign the 1994 Contract with America and did not support President Bush on intervention in Iraq.

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