Remember Gary Condit? He’s back in politics.

Al Kamen
Columnist May 7, 2012

Who says there are no second acts? Eleven years after the Chandra Levy scandal drove Gary Condit from the House, he’s dipping his toes back into the brackish waters of politics.

But not on his own behalf — the California Democrat’s been campaigning in parts of his old district for his son, Chad Condit , who is running as an independent in the recently redrawn 10th District.

Gary Condit, now 64, hasn’t given interviews in years. But here’s what we know about what he’s been up to: He’s living in Ceres, Calif., and apparently isn’t considered too scandal-scarred to be of help to Chad Condit’s scrappy campaign. He’s been walking precincts and attending events on the trail, we hear.

Gary Condit even appears on his son’s campaign Facebook page, in a gallery of supporters holding signs proclaiming themselves as being “With Chad.”

He’s written a book, although it doesn’t seem to have found a publisher. And his entrepreneurial spirit apparently hasn’t been dampened by previous bad luck. (Post-Congress, he ran Baskin-Robbins ice cream franchises that ended in failure. The Condits lost a breach-of-contract suit and were ordered to pay about $98,000.)


Chad, left, Carolyn, and Gary Condit. (Courtesy of Chad Condit for Congress)

He’s now the president of the Phoenix Institute of Desert Agriculture — that’s “desert,” not “dessert” — a nonprofit devoted to bringing modern farming techniques to desert farming in the developing world.

Condit, of course, is best known for his affair with Washington intern Levy, who disappeared in the summer of 2001 and whose remains were found a year later. While the six-term lawmaker was never named a suspect in the murder — and in 2010, another man was convicted of the crime — suspicion surrounding him contributed to his defeat in the 2002 primary elections.

Condit settled a defamation lawsuit against Vanity Fair in 2005, but he lost a 2007 suit against an Arizona newspaper and had to pay the paper’s $42,000 in legal fees.

Still, Condit’s experience in the center ring of the Washington scandal circus might prove valuable to his son — he’d at least be able to give advice to the novice politico, perhaps starting with the old chestnut, “avoid interns.”

Opening in Islamabad

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told his staff Monday morning that he will step down this summer after serving less than two years on the job.

We’re told his early departure — ambassadors usually serve three-year tours, and Munter has been in Islamabad only since October 2010 — is not related to any particular policy dispute with the administration or the Pakistanis.

Word is that Munter, a veteran career diplomat whose prior postings had been largely in Europe and as ambassador to Serbia before he became a senior official in Iraq in 2009 and 2010, simply wasn’t a good fit with the Pakistani government — and perhaps not with the Obama administration as well.

No word yet on a replacement.

Well, at least the new ambassador will move into a newly renovated residence.

Here come the judges

The Senate on Monday confirmed the last three of 17 judges under a deal cut by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell in March. The three nominees — one to an appellate court, the others to U.S. District Court seats — had been confirmed unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The three are Jacqueline H. Nguyen for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California, John Z. Lee for a District Court seat in Illinois and Kristine G. Baker for a District Court seat in Arkansas. Nguyen would be the first Vietnamese American federal appeals court judge.

The action leaves 19 judicial nominees awaiting votes on the Senate floor, five of them for appeals courts and 14 for trial or district court slots.

While some observers — including, sadly, this column — too often dismiss the district judges as chopped liver, it should be noted that they are the ones who do the heavy lifting in keeping the federal courthouses running and case backlogs as low as possible.

As it turns out, many of those confirmed under the deal are filling seats in courthouses where there are judicial “emergencies,” meaning there aren’t enough judges to keep up with the work.

So the 19 pending nominees, all of them approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, will sweat it out until the August recess, when the “Thurmond rule” often shuts down the process.

The “rule,” named for the late senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond, posits that, sometime in the summer in a presidential election year, no judges will be confirmed without the consent of the Republican and Democratic leaders and the Judiciary Committee chairman and ranking minority member.

Democrats have refused to recognize the rule and are known to flout it, blissfully confirming Republican presidents’ nominees well into the fall — thus cutting the number of vacancies that an incoming Democratic president might be able to fill.

The Republicans not only adhere to the rule but have been most adept at a fine four-corner stall until the rule might plausibly be invoked.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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