Constitutional Convention?

Supporters of a constitutional amendment to keep the courts from legalizing homosexual marriage, stunned by poor support in the recent Senate vote, are beginning a campaign for a constitutional convention.

The provision of the Constitution’s Article V requiring such a convention if called by two-thirds of the state legislatures has never been used. Fear of throwing the Constitution open to general amendment has overridden support for specific issues. However, key advocates of barring gay marriages believe the constitutional convention strategy will keep the issue alive.

A recent memo circulated within the anti-gay marriage coalition lists Princeton Professor Robby George, Tony Perkins and Chuck Donovan of the Family Research Council, and conservative financial consultant Frank Cannon as favoring the strategy.

Howard’s 50 States

Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, unbowed by criticism of his 50-state strategy, sent supporters a June 20 e-mail boasting of how much money he has spent in Utah to build the party in a state with no competitive race for either house of Congress this year.

Dean has come under fire for spending all but $4.25 million of the $84.5 million the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has raised for this election cycle. Intraparty critics complain Dean is paying off promises to DNC members from Republican-majority states made in his campaign for chairman.

While admitting that Republican Utah is "not a place many would expect the national party to be focusing its resources," Dean’s e-mail declared: "This is about getting the word out: The 50-state strategy is right for our party, and the people who support it will stand up and be counted. Make your donation to support the 50-state strategy now."

Kucinich and Cuba

Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, was the only member of Congress to publicly object to a provision in the lobby reform bill requiring reports of contact with federal lawmakers by agents of terrorist states. The bill fell just short, 263 to 159, of the two-thirds needed to pass on suspension of the rules.

Kucinich argued the provision was "a step backward for diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba." He is an ardent supporter of normalizing ties with the communist dictatorship in Havana.

The provision would require a report of congressional contacts with agents of anybody, even a diplomat, representing a country on the State Department’s terrorist watch list. That would end the exemption for diplomats from existing foreign agent reporting requirements.

GOP in N.Y.

Fears that the 2006 elections will prove a total wipeout for Republicans in New York were somewhat relieved with a new poll showing high approval for Rep. John Sweeney in his upstate New York district.

Sweeney’s seat has been marked by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as a sure stepping-stone on the road to a House majority. However, new polls show Sweeney ahead of his challenger, attorney Kirsten Gillibrand.

Republicans still worry about reverse coattails in New York. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, heading the Democratic ticket as the candidate for governor, is running far ahead of former Assemblyman John Faso. Sen. Hillary Clinton also has a huge lead for Senate re-election.

Snowy Fund Raising

Washington lobbyists getting ready for a long, hot summer filled with 2006 campaign fund raising were jolted last week with a request to fund an election two-and-a-half years away by coming to a snowy venue.

The mailed solicitation was for the "6th Annual First Tracks Ski Trip" at Deer Valley, Utah, on Dec. 2 this year on behalf of Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon. The high ticket cost is $2,500 for political action committees and $1,000 for individuals, with accommodations at the Stein Erickson Lodge costing extra.

Smith, a moderate conservative, is one of Oregon’s rare Republican statewide winners in recent years and is expected to face a tough test for re-election in 2008.