NEW ORLEANS, La.: Bush loses Bayou

Despite an all-out attempt by George W. Bush’s White House and Republican operatives to win the Senate seat for the GOP here, working families and African-American voters delivered a Democratic Senate seat victory plus one more Democratic member of the House in the Dec. 7 run-off election, which signaled the close of the 2002 election cycle.

Incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu fended off a full-court press by a concentrated Republican Party and kept her seat with a 46,500 margin of victory over Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell.

Landrieu changed her original campaign strategy, which had been emphasizing her support for Bush, and campaigned on her record of support for working family issues, including jobs, schools, coastal rehabilitation and health care. Landrieu had fired her original campaign strategists and hired new ones, including Donna Brazile as campaign chairwoman. Brazile was former campaign chairwoman for Al Gore’s presidential campaign.

Rep. Cleo Fields, an African-American congressional representative from East Baton Rouge, told reporters, “All that talk about support for the president turned my stomach. To [Landrieu’s] credit she changed all that in the run-off and worked hard to distinguish herself from the Republicans and really reached out to African Americans. If she keeps that attitude, only God knows what she can do.”

Reaction to the negative ads may have contributed to the upset in the 5th Congressional District, which has a 53 percent Republican majority of registered voters. Democrat Rodney Alexander defeated the Republican incumbent by a razor-thin margin of 500 votes.

SEATTLE: Peace, not war

Seated behind their neighborhood banners and signs, over 2,000 residents jammed the Garfield High School gym Dec. 8 for a town hall meeting on the pending war with Iraq. Neighbors concluded that there is no justification for war.

Grassroots peace activity continues to grow. On Dec. 6, in Port Townsend, organizers expected 200 to participate in a “Peace Portrait” and 800 showed up. The same day, hundreds of Seattle high school and college students walked out of classes in protest of the Iraqi War and 350 residents rallied for peace at the Tacoma Mall.

SNOW, Sound Non-violent Opponents of War, the local coalition, is organizing 1,000 neighborhood pot-luck suppers on January 18 to discuss the war.

RICHMOND, Va.: Governors demand change in Bush economic policy

Virginia’s Gov. Mark R. Warner and Maryland’s Gov. Parris N. Glendening told the opening of the Council on State Governments convention, here, Dec. 6, that the federal government is not holding up its end of the bargain in its partnership with financially strapped states. A combination of Bush unfunded mandates and tax shifting leaves states with billions in shortfalls and workers and residents facing a meat cleaver in cuts.

With California facing an estimated $21 billion state budget deficit, which may result in the lay-off of 10,000 state workers and deep cuts in education and social services, Governor Gray Davis has declared a financial emergency. The state legislature is expected to begin the budget debate Jan. 10.

Warner and Glendening said federal officials have left states holding the bag on a number of programs, including children’s health insurance, highway construction, election reform, public school accountability, welfare reform and homeland security.

WASHINGTON: Green Party wins in 2002

With votes in tens of thousands of local elections finally counted, Green Party candidates now hold 171 positions, from election judge to state representative, in 23 states. California leads the pack with 62 Greens holding local offices, followed by Massachuetts with 18, Wisconsin with 17 and Pennsylvania with 13.

Maine elected its first Green State Representative, John Eder from the 31st District in Portland.

Providence, R.I., voters elected their first Green city council rep from the 1st District, David Segal.

North Carolina and Texas elected their first Greens, ever, to Soil and Water Commissioner and Water Board, respectively.

STERLING, Colo.: WalMart sells donated Toys for Tots

Toys that had been donated to charity at the Wal-Mart store here were put back on the store’s shelves and sold for 100 percent profit.

With 10 days left until the end of the annual Toys for Tots drive, organizer Susan Kraich said she was back at square one.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on that box every time I went to Wal-Mart, and was so excited as it slowly began to fill. Over the weekend I heard that it was nearly full, so I went to pick it up. I was devastated when I found it empty,” Kraich said.

Kraich complained to store management, but was told the store would only replace the items she knew for a fact were in the box. She left the store after replacing only three toys that she had purchased and donated to the cause.

“There was everything in that box – clothing, sporting goods, food items. My understanding was that the box would be emptied regularly. We had no way of knowing whether or not those items had been paid for,” said store manager Brad Barritt. The box was not visible from the store’s security cameras, so there was no video proof that the toys were purchased, he added.

WASHINGTON: Ugly fangs of racism

The NAACP and civil rights leaders called for Senate Majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to resign and former Vice President Al Gore demanded censure, following Lott’s statements embracing segregation.

Lott insued an apology Dec. 9 for comments he made during a birthday party for 100-year-old former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond. Lott said that when Thurmond ran for president on a states’ rights, anti-integration ticket in 1948, Mississippi voted for him. “We’re proud of it,” Lott said to applause. “And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson demanded Lott resign, saying, Lott is “an unrepentant Confederate who cannot speak for all Americans.”

Gore, speaking on CNN’s “Inside Politics,” said the Senate should censure Lott. “It is not a small thing for one of the half-dozen most prominent political leaders in America to say that our problems are caused by integration and that we should have had a segregationist candidate,” he said. “That is divisive, and it is divisive along racial lines.”

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle came to Lott’s defense Monday, saying he had talked with Lott on the phone and accepted Lott’s explanation that he hadn’t meant for the remarks to be interpreted as they were.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards.
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