It has been little more than a year since former White House aide Linda Chavez was handily defeated by Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski in her bid for a Maryland seat in the U.S. Senate, but she has lost neither her interest in politics nor her penchant for speaking up for controversial causes.
Chavez, 40, is president of U.S. English, a group working to make English the official language of the United States. The 300,000-member, nonprofit group is based in the District and was founded in 1983 by former senator Samuel I. Hayakawa (R-Calif.).
Chavez concedes that she, a Hispanic native of Albuquerque, gets more than a fair share of criticism for heading the group. But she argues that the United States, as a nation of immigrants, needs one language to bind it together.
Chavez says the $75,000-a-year job requires a lot of time away from her Bethesda home. "This is a very hot issue in the Southwest," she said, adding that people in Washington do not understand the importance of the issue.
Chavez said she is keeping her hand in politically, doing commentary for National Public Radio and writing guest columns for USA Today and American Politics magazine.
She said she has "tried to stay active politically as much as a Republican can in Maryland." She has done fund raising for the College Republicans at the University of Maryland and has been an unpaid consultant to the Jefferson Group, a Republican lobbying organization.
Because she plans to do some television commentary on some of the upcoming primaries, she refrains from answering questions about whom she favors for president.
For herself, she said that running again for elected office is always an option but that she has no immediate plans to do so. Chavez specifically ruled out next year's Senate race.
Looking back on her run against Mikulski, she said she feels good that she did as well as she did -- she got 39 percent of the vote to 61 percent for Mikulski -- with little name recognition and no political base.
But, she said, there were some things she would have done differently. It was difficult, she said, to run against someone as well-known and well-liked as Mikulski and it was difficult for her to have to be on the attack at all times.
"I don't know if I had much choice, but it was not my style," she said.