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Washington Insight

October 13, 1994|From The Times Washington Bureau

HOME FREE--Facing a 17-count felony indictment alleging embezzlement, fraud and conspiracy, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) has become a poster boy for Republicans seeking to tar Democratic incumbents with ethical indiscretions. Yet even as his name is invoked, "Rosty" appears to be cruising to reelection. Despite the accusations arising from the House Post Office scandal, Rostenkowski survived a Democratic primary challenge by mobilizing remnants of the Chicago Democratic machine and reminding voters of all he had delivered. His current Republican opponent, Michael P. Flanagan, presents so little threat that Rostenkowski hasn't even opened a campaign headquarters. Flanagan hasn't raised much money and Republicans have provided scant help, in part, because Rosty has long come through for Republicans as well as Democrats in Illinois and is regarded with some affection on both sides of the aisle.

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KITCHEN CABINET--In the tense moments before her nationally televised debate last week with challenger Mike Huffington, Sen. Dianne Feinstein huddled with her brain trust--plus one of President Clinton's leading political advisers. Shortly before going elbow-to-elbow with Huffington on "Larry King Live," Feinstein gathered with husband Richard Blum, media adviser Hank Morris and communications director Bill Chandler over dinner at the Monocle, a favored hangout for lawmakers. Joining them was Paul Begala, who helped mastermind Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and has continued to advise Clinton. Begala is close to Feinstein's campaign manager, Kam Kuwata, and consultant Bill Carrick and has a consulting contract with the Democratic National Committee. "When you're in these races you have friends help," Kuwata said.

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STARS AND STRIPES--Civilians aren't alone in their confusion over the new Navy-style stripes that Air Force generals are sporting these days in place of the five-pointed stars they wore for years. An Air Force fact-book pictures the same new rank insignia for major generals as for lieutenant generals: one wide stripe and two standard-width stripes. To fix things, the red-faced Air Force brass inserted an errata sheet, showing the correct version for major generals--one wide stripe and one standard-width stripe. In any event, the confusion shouldn't last long. The new Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, reportedly will mothball the controversial new uniforms and return to stars in place of stripes.

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NAME GAME--Remember the California congressional delegation's commitment to set aside partisan rancor? Last week the state's lawmakers proved that they remain as divided as ever when three California Republicans blocked an effort by Rep. Sonny V. Montgomery (D-Miss.), chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, to name a Palo Alto veterans hospital after Rep. Don Edwards (D-San Jose), who is retiring after 16 terms. "It would be more appropriate if Congressman Edwards was honored by naming a welfare center for him," Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-San Diego) said of the liberal lawmaker. The other two who refused to approve the committee action, which by custom requires the unanimous consent of a member's delegation, were Mike Huffington (R-Santa Barbara) and Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove). But Edwards' name may yet live on. Fellow San Jose Democratic Rep. Norman Y. Mineta intends to introduce legislation next year naming the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge after Edwards.

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