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Hoyer Hits the Trail, Murtha’s Plans Still Fluid

With an eye toward not only the November elections but a potential bid for the Majority Leader’s office if Democrats wrestle control of the House, both Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Rep. John Murtha (Pa.) will return their would-be competition to the road this month to support their fellow Democrats.

Reflecting the styles both have adopted, Hoyer will continue on the ambitious cross-country schedule he has pursued throughout the cycle, while Murtha’s plans remain fluid, even just five weeks out from Election Day.

According to Hoyer staff, the Maryland lawmaker is expected to visit nearly three dozen districts in 17 states, adding to the 61 districts he has tallied to date this cycle.

Among the districts Hoyer will stop off at are Texas’ 22nd district, formerly held by Rep. Tom DeLay (R), where he was slated to host a breakfast Monday with former Rep. Nick Lampson (D), who is seeking the seat.

The Monday schedule also included stops in Missouri for Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) and in Illinois for Rep. Melissa Bean (D), followed today with events for businessman Dan Seals (D), who faces an uphill battle against Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and allergist Steve Kagen, who is campaigning for the open Wisconsin 8th district.

In addition, Hoyer is scheduled to visit around a dozen top-tier races for Democrats in New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana, a strategy that also could lock up votes from freshman lawmakers in the race for Majority Leader.

In the meantime, a Murtha campaign spokesman said Friday that the Pennsylvanian’s schedule remained fluid for the final weeks ahead of Election Day, and did not return requests Monday for a detailed schedule. Murtha visited 10 districts during the August recess, and campaign staff asserted at that time he could visit more through Election Day but did not provide specific details.

The Pennsylvania lawmaker did headline a rally in his own honor in his Johnstown, Pa.-based district on Saturday. The event, put on by Veterans for Murtha, a group chaired by former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), featured Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) and former presidential candidate Wesley Clark (D).

The event preceded a Sunday rally in opposition to Murtha sponsored by the Veterans for Truth, the organization that targeted then-presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 presidential campaign under the “Swift Boat” veterans organization. The group has attacked Murtha’s anti-Iraq War message, which has brought him significant attention since the former Marine and defense hawk made his opinion public late last year.

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