Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review August 24, 2001 / 5 Elul, 5761

John H. Fund

Fund
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Lauch Out: Who'll replace Jesse Helms?


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- "YOU got to know when to hold 'em, you got to know when to fold 'em," Kenny Rogers sings in "The Gambler." That certainly applies to the decision of 79-year-old Sen. Jesse Helms to retire after three decades battling liberals in the Senate. The legendary senator, who was instrumental in keeping Ronald Reagan's career alive in the 1976 GOP presidential primaries, has seen the country accept many of his conservative positions--albeit without some of his sharp edges.

Mr. Helms may be irreplaceable, but someone will have to fill his seat come 2003. Many Republicans are rallying behind Elizabeth Dole, a former head of the Red Cross and a cabinet officer in both the Reagan and Bush I administrations. Mrs. Dole, the wife of Bob Dole, has a smooth image, but is sufficiently pro-life and anti-gun control to satisfy most conservatives.

"Her numbers in North Carolina are virtually like Mother Teresa's," says Marc Rotterman, a conservative political consultant with ties to Mr. Helms's political organization. Early polls show she would easily win a general election against Secretary of State Elaine Marshall or former state House speaker Dan Blue. The only Democrat who could possibly give her a tough race would be former governor Jim Hunt, but he has come under fire since his retirement in January for leaving North Carolina in a budget crisis that is likely to result in a massive tax hike.

But the Dole boomlet doesn't please all Republicans. Lauch Faircloth, who served one term in the U.S. Senate in the 1990s, is reported to be "seething" that the White House is pushing Mrs. Dole to run. "The more they push Dole, the madder he gets," one GOP operative told the Washington Times.

Mr. Faircloth reportedly is willing to spend more than $10 million of his considerable fortune to return to the Senate. (He lost his seat in 1998 to Democrat John Edwards, now a leading candidate for his party's 2004 presidential nomination.) As a hard-shell conservative who was the bÍte noire of Hillary Clinton during the Senate's Whitewater hearings, he would pose a sharp and vivid contrast to Mrs. Dole's soothing, nonconfrontational approach. Other potential GOP candidates, such as Rep. Richard Burr and former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot, are moderate conservatives who would have difficulty picking a fight with a popular celebrity like Mrs. Dole.

Mr. Faircloth was one of my favorite senators when he was in office. A Democrat until he switched parties in 1991, he didn't follow the lead of some lifelong "good government" Republicans who misunderstood the nature of the Clinton administration and thought it could be placated or bargained with in good faith. His gruff manner in committee hearings often gave way to a Southern courtliness in floor debate or informal settings. As chairman of the Senate committee overseeing the District of Columbia, he forced the city to adopt needed reforms. But he also showed an ability to work with liberals in advancing breast-cancer legislation.

But Sen. Faircloth is the wrong conservative to succeed Jesse Helms. For one thing, he isn't much younger than Mr. Helms. If he ran and won, he would turn 75 only days after being sworn in. The age factor hurt him in 1998. While he was intellectually sharp, he ran two points behind Bob Dole's 1996 showing in the state because he looked and sounded old. "He represents the Old South in a state that is increasingly the New South," says Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. "He shouldn't have lost to John Edwards, who as a trial lawyer carried a lot of political baggage."

John Hood, the director of the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based think tank, says that Mr. Faircloth's biggest selling point beyond his consistent conservative message would be the wealth he might spend on the campaign. But Mr. Hood is doubtful that Mr. Faircloth would deliver $10 million to his campaign treasury. "I'm Scotch-Irish like Senator Faircloth," says Mr. Hood. "I can't see someone as tightfisted as he is spending that kind of money when he wouldn't do it in 1998 in the fight of his political life." Indeed, in 1998 Mr. Faircloth raised $7.7 million in contributions from individuals and political action committees. He supplemented that with only $1.7 million of his own money. Mr. Edwards wound up spending $8.3 million, nearly three-quarters of that from his own personal fortune.

Mr. Faircloth is said to be meeting with his advisers on Thursday to evaluate his chances in the Senate race. The unsolicited advice from many of his conservative allies is that he should let that cup pass from his lips. Mr. Helms's retirement signals a generational change in leadership for North Carolina. Mr. Faircloth has been a savvy, underestimated figure in North Carolina politics and business for decades, and that's why I think the canny pol should understand the wisdom of that Kenny Rogers admonition to know "when to fold 'em."



Comment on JWR contributor John H. Fund's column by clicking here.

Up

08/08/01: Tome Alone: Clinton's book will probably end up on the remainder table
08/03/01: Of grubbing and grabbing: Corporation$ and local government$ perfect "public use"
07/31/01: Affairs of State: The Condit case isn't just about adultery. It's about public trust and national security
07/14/01: The First Amendment survives, and everyone has someone to blame for the failure of campaign reform
07/12/01: He's Still Bread: Despite what you've heard, Gary Condit isn't toast --- yet
07/12/01: Passing Lane: Left-wing attacks help boost John Stossel's and Brit Hume's audiences
06/25/01: Man vs. Machine: New Jersey's GOP establishment is doing everything it can to stop Bret Schundler
06/15/01: A Schundler Surprise? Don't count out "the Jack Kemp of New Jersey"
06/06/01: Memo to conservatives: Ignore McCain and maybe he'll go away
05/29/01: Integrity in Politics? Hardly. Jim Jeffords is no Wayne Morse
05/22/01: Davis' answer to California's energy crisis? Hire a couple of Clinton-Gore hatchet men
05/07/01: Prematurely declaring a winner wasn't the networks' worst sin in Florida
04/23/01: How to fix the electoral process --- REALLY!
04/11/01: A conservative hero may mount a California comeback
03/30/01: Can the GOP capture the nation's most closely balanced district?
03/09/01: Terminated
03/06/01: Leave well enough alone
02/22/01: Forgetting our heroes
02/15/01: In 1978 Clinton got a close look at the dangers of selling forgiveness
02/12/01: Clinton owes the country an explanation --- and an appology
02/06/01: How Ronald Reagan changed America
01/16/01: Why block Ashcroft? To demoralize the GOP's most loyal voters
01/15/01: Remembering John Schmitz, a cheerful extremist
12/29/00: Why are all Dems libs pickin' on me?
Dubya's 48% mandate is different than Ford's
12/13/00: Gore would have lost any recount that passed constitutional muster
11/13/00: The People Have Spoken: Will Gore listen?
10/25/00: She's really a Dodger
09/28/00: Locking up domestic oil?
09/25/00: Hillary gives new meaning to a "woman with a past"
09/21/00: Ignore the Polls. The Campaign Isn't Over Yet

©2001, John H. Fund