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In the Loop

Comeback Kids in Florida

By Al Kamen
Monday, March 28, 2005; Page A15

Political losers often seem to lose their bearings, sometimes for a long time, and some even retire from the political scene. Richard M. Nixon went into exile for several years after his brutal defeats in the early 1960s. Michael S. Dukakis (Remember? He ran for president in 1988.), Al Gore and perhaps John F. Kerry all seem to have had trouble regaining their bearings after their losses.

So it was most refreshing last week to see Loop favorites Alan Keyes, brutally trounced by Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for the Senate in November, and Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman, whose vote count barely registered in the GOP Senate primary in Florida in August, back in the news again, getting some fine media exposure in -- what else? -- the Terri Schiavo case.

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Keyes, the momentary Illinoisan and perpetual loser -- races for the Senate in Maryland in 1988 and 1992, and then for the GOP presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000 -- got hammered by 40 points.

Klayman, who gained fame pursuing and exposing Bill Clinton, left his $805,000-a-year job as head of the nonprofit Judicial Watch and moved to Florida for the run.

(By the way, Klayman's salary for 2003 is substantially more than nonprofit think tank heads make, according to Congressional Quarterly. Heritage Foundation's Edwin J. Feulner Jr. earns more than $500,000, as does Christopher C. DeMuth at the American Enterprise Institute. Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson, Brookings Institution's Strobe Talbott, the Urban Institute's Robert D. Reischauer and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Jessica T. Mathews are all paid in the low $300s.)

Klayman waged a long and spirited campaign to be the GOP's candidate and came in second-lowest of eight contenders, with about 1 percent of the vote in the primary -- just over 13,000 votes. Might seem a bit low, but it was nearly triple the vote for realtor Billy Kogut, a former liquor store owner and city councilman in Wallington, N.J., who moved to Florida in 1996.

On the other hand, Klayman received 7,500 fewer votes than a Vero Beach entrepreneur who did not campaign and dropped out of the race about a month before the primary.

But just because voters overwhelmingly rejected them, neither Keyes nor Klayman has missed a step, it seems.

They were in Tallahassee last week meeting with an aide to Gov. Jeb Bush (R), according to the Orlando Sentinel, pressing their views that Bush had a constitutional obligation to defy court and legislative actions that could result in Schiavo's death.

Klayman has been getting excellent ink in recent months, representing such high-profile clients as a bystander tear-gassed by agents during the Elian Gonzalez raid five years ago. Klayman said former attorney general Janet Reno ordered the raid, "following the instructions of the Cuban government." Another client was a pilot shot at by Cuban MiGs over the Florida straits who got a judgment against Cuba for $1.75 million.

Hmmm. . . . Cuban Americans and right-to-life advocates? Gonna be a lot more than 1 percent next time around.

GOP Block Party

Loop Traffic Alert! Best to avoid the 100 block of D Street SE on April 5. Four members of Congress who own townhouses on that block are having fundraisers that day, according to PoliticalMoneyLine. The bashes include "Margarita Tasting" with Rep. Chris Chocola (R-Ind.), "Bourbon Tasting" with Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-Fla.), "Martini Tasting" with Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (R-Conn.) and "Wine Tasting" with Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.).

Those attending should, of course, go on foot.

Escorts for Escorts

The Agency for International Development is looking for someone to provide "Escort Services" in Baghdad. No, not lovely young ladies -- these are "Security Escort Personnel," who will work in the International (Green) Zone.

Problem is, as the March 15 AID solicitation describes it, "due to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq within the last year; the increase of terrorist activities targeting the International Zone," access to the zone "became more restricted," so only people with coalition-issued badges can enter.

But AID folks without those badges can get in "if escorted by authorized personnel."

Suspects in Renditions Spared Sox Logo

Had us worried there for a moment. Boston Red Sox part owner and vice chairman Phillip H. Morse said he was "stunned" upon hearing reports that his private Gulfstream jet, which had been chartered to the CIA, may have been used for special renditions of terrorism suspects to their native countries for interrogation.

The plane has a small Red Sox logo near the door.

But, he said, "when it's chartered, it never has the logo of the Red Sox on it. They cover it up." Whew.

Invitation for Tee

D.C. lobbyists Wayne Valis and Matt Keelen of Valis Associates sent over an invite to a "golf outing" in honor of Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.), who's being honored for some reason. It's at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club and will cost only $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a PAC.

Tee time is 9 a.m. Monday, April 19, the e-mail and the invitation say. But Monday is the 18th, or, alternatively, Tuesday is the 19th. Well, just send a check and they'll doubtless clarify.

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