Inside Politics

Article excerpt

CAPTURE THE FLAG

Georgia Democratic leaders fear that a debate over the state flag - which contains the Confederate battle flag - could cost the party seats in the General Assembly, the Atlanta Constitution reports.

"So while Georgia looms as the next battleground over the continuing use of the Confederacy's most enduring symbol, Democrats are delaying any movement toward changing the flag until after November's legislative elections. Initiating action before the elections, Democrats said, would all but ensure Republican gains in the state House and Senate."

JUDGES TARGETED

"It may be a lot to ask: persuading the public to pay attention to races other than Gore vs. Bush or Hillary vs. Rudy. Already this election season is too much with us. But voters ignore other contests, many of which are extraordinarily important, at their peril," writes Abigail Thernstrom, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

"In Michigan, for instance, three conservative members of the state's Supreme Court - Clifford Taylor, Robert Young and Stephen Markman - are up for election.

"All three were appointed by Gov. John Engler to finish out the terms of justices who had resigned; now they must run on their own. For the first time in more than 40 years, Republicans are the majority on this seven-member court and they are an unusually thoughtful, sophisticated and articulate group. Can it be any surprise that the trial lawyers are determined to defeat them?" Mrs. Thernstrom asks in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

"In particular, the three judges believe in leaving policy-making to the representative branches of government and eschewing the creation of novel rights. With its traditional view of the judicial role, probably no court in the country has been less inclined to respond favorably to innovative theories allowing violent criminals to escape responsibility for their actions."

KING OF THE HILL

Republicans have surrendered in their effort to knock out first-term Rep. Baron P. Hill, Indiana Democrat, the Associated Press reports.

"This is a not a targeted race we're now looking at for the fall," said Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for the GOP campaign committee. As if to underscore the point, the GOP issued a written statement that spoke enthusiastically of its chances for victory in other Indiana contests. It omitted mention of Mr. Hill's seat.

The GOP long had targeted Mr. Hill as a potential victim, but congressional party leaders' hopes soured when Kevin Kellems, a former aide to Sen. Richard G. Lugar, lost the nomination. Some GOP strategists view the winner in the primary, Michael Bailey, as too much a one-note candidate to defeat Mr. Hill. Mr. Bailey is a longtime anti-abortion crusader.

PRIMARY DAY

Two top Republican officials in Nebraska are battling it out in today's primary for a chance to fill the seat being vacated by the only Democrat in the state's congressional delegation - Sen. Bob Kerrey.

Attorney General Don Stenberg and Secretary of State Scott Moore are expected to lead the Republican primary race, which is now down to four candidates after two deep-pockets contenders stopped campaigning.

The winner is likely to take on former Gov. Ben Nelson, who left office in 1999 with an 80 percent approval rating after two terms. He faced token opposition in the Democratic primary.

In West Virginia, Republican Gov. Cecil Underwood faces a painting contractor, a housewife and an unemployed construction worker in the GOP primary. Mr. Underwood, 77, was so confident that he did not campaign and planned to spend election night watching a minor-league baseball game, the Associated Press reports.

The more dramatic West Virginia race was for the House seat being left by Rep. Bob Wise, who is running in the Democratic primary to challenge Mr. …