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THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE | CAMPAIGN 2004 / TRAIL
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Massachusetts GOP Wants Kerry to Bow Out of Senate

June 20, 2004

Massachusetts Republicans clamored last week for Sen. John F. Kerry to give up his Senate seat, claiming the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee was shirking his lawmaker duties.

Kerry has participated in 14 of the 130 Senate roll call votes this year.

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, a Republican, called Tuesday for Kerry to resign. "It's not fair, it's not right and the public is not being well served," Healey told reporters.

In spite of Kerry's frequent absence in the Senate chamber, there is little precedent for presidential candidates to abandon their congressional posts, according to assistant Senate historian Betty Koed.

Nor have gubernatorial candidates felt compelled to leave office during a presidential race. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, for example, kept their jobs throughout their campaigns.

Staying in office while on the campaign trail "is pretty much the standard of recent times," Koed said, citing John F. Kennedy's decision to remain a senator while campaigning for president in 1960. "In a way, it's easier today than it was in the olden days, because communication is so easy and traveling is so easy."

Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) was an exception. Dole left his position as Senate majority leader during his unsuccessful presidential bid in 1996; in a televised interview Tuesday, Dole recommended Kerry follow his example.

"I think that would be a message to the American people. They didn't get my message, that I was willing to give up something, but it might be something John would want to consider," Dole said on CNN.

Under Massachusetts law, if Kerry is elected president, Republican Gov. Mitt Romney will appoint a successor to fill the remainder of Kerry's term, which lasts until 2008.

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P.C. Dating

Lonely days carrying protest signs and lonely nights in government offices could be fading memories for politically minded singletons.

For those leaning left, two personal sites launched this year, ActForLove.org and LoveInWar.com, help a predominantly liberal crowd find compatible companions. LoveInWar -- which, like ActForLove, is open to anyone but skews Democratic -- includes articles ("Bad protest fashion"), games, merchandise and more than 1,500 profiles of eligible hipsters. Users can list their current mood with a rating of "Clinton mellow" to "Dean angry."

"Everything else out there is left versus right," said site founder Bryan Carlin, 24, of New York. "I wanted to make something that was a little more playful -- sexy -- if at all possible." Those on the site tend to be in their mid- to late 20s, with most living on the coasts, Carlin said.

ActForLove, co-founded by John Hlinko, formerly of the progressive group MoveOn.org and a movement to draft retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark into the presidential race, is more advocacy-oriented. The site includes personals, but also links to causes the site has partnered with, like NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Not a liberal? Not to worry -- SingleRepublicans.com focuses on unattached conservatives. The site's 4,000 overwhelmingly GOP members run the right-wing gamut, with a few Democrats signed up, too.

"The old saying, 'opposites attract' -- I really don't buy that," said site founder Tom Swanson, 38, a Web developer from St. Louis. "It's important to meet someone that shares many of your viewpoints." He estimates many of the users are over 30. Most listed late President Reagan as a favorite politician.

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Stuck on Bush-Bashing

On the off chance that there are any bare bumpers left on the cars of angry Democrats, San Francisco's Chronicle Books has released a book of anti-Bush stickers for those who express their political views automotively.

The red-white-and-blue booklet holds 10 bumper stickers that double as postcards. The slogans include jabs like "Bring Back Monica Lewinsky" and "Leave No Billionaire Behind." The book, slated for a third printing, has been a hit, with stores snatching up the first 25,000 copies. "People are really unhappy about the war. I think they're just gravitating towards it," said Brenda Tucker, senior publicist at Chronicle Books.

The Bush campaign had no comment on the product.

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Duly Quoted

"In a recent interview, Howard Dean said the downfall of his campaign started with the Al Gore endorsement. Hey, you don't think Al Gore could have secretly endorsed the Lakers, do you?" -- Jay Leno, on NBC's "Tonight Show" Wednesday.

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Compiled from staff, Web and wire reports by Times staff researcher Susannah Rosenblatt.

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