Sherwood Out of the Forest

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Loop Luckiest Pol Award for May goes to Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.). Sherwood, a 64-year-old married father of three and strong supporter of family values, was found in his apartment here last fall with a 29-year-old woman not his wife.

D.C. police responded to a 911 call by the woman, Cynthia Ore , of Rockville. She had locked herself in the bathroom and said that, while giving her a back rub, he choked her. He denied any choking, though not the back rub, the police report said, and she seemed not "of sound mind." No charges were filed.

Fortunately, none of this surfaced until after Sherwood, in a new, safe, largely rural district, handily won election to a fourth term. A fringe party opponent recently sent part of the report to the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, which, naturally enough, jumped on it in an April 30 article.

Sherwood then issued an apology for the "pain and embarrassment" he caused his family and supporters. But there's no explanation as to what the woman, whom he called a "casual acquaintance" -- she told the Times Leader they had been lovers for about six years -- was doing in his apartment that evening or how Ore ended up as an intern for a couple of days in fellow Pennsylvania Rep. William Shuster 's office down the hall from Sherwood's.

Back rub? Brings to mind former senator Charles S. Robb (D-Va.), whose career went into a tailspin sparked by a massage from former Miss Virginia Tai Collins . Then there was former senator Gary Hart (D-Colo.), whose presidential bid tanked after news broke of his dalliance with Donna "Monkey Business" Rice . Former representative Bob Livingston 's House speakership unraveled amidst news of the Louisiana Republican's wanderings.

And Sherwood? No problem. Latest word from the National Republican Congressional Committee is he's not seen as vulnerable in his district and, in fact, he is staying on as chairman of a committee to help other Republicans facing tough races.

In another bit of fine fortune, while the media did its usual, tasteless feeding frenzy on Hart, Robb, Livingston and others, the other major newspapers in Sherwood's district graciously declined to report or to investigate this highly personal matter. One managing editor found no "connection between the politician's private moral life and his public performance."

Some of the local television stations also tended to take the high road on this tawdry business.

Granted, a recent TV poll showed 60 percent of Sherwood's constituents thought less of him because of the allegations. But the election is a long way off, so there's fence-mending time.

Which brings us to the best news of all. The Tobyhanna Army Depot, the largest employer in his district, with thousands of workers, is not only not losing jobs under the Pentagon's just announced base realignment and closure plan, it's actually gaining nearly 300 jobs.

"He's running the table," said Wilkes University political science professor Thomas J. Baldino .

World's Greatest Deliberative Body

The Senate last week was discussing appropriating more funds for the nation's transportation infrastructure when Sen. James N. Inhofe (R-Okla.) rose to offer this observation about bodily needs:

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