INDIANA: Bayh Out, Hill Not Sure About Governor’s Race
One Member of the Indiana Congressional delegation ended speculation about his gubernatorial plans this week while another is reportedly still pondering a run for the state’s top job in 2004.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D) said Saturday that he would forgo running for governor and instead is expected to seek re-election next year.
Bayh, arguably the most popular Democrat in the state, had been encouraged to consider running for his old job after Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan (D) announced late last year that he would not run for the post as expected.
The first-term Senator was governor from January 1989 to January 1997. He said that by not running for governor he would be able to devote his full attention to the Senate.
Meanwhile, Rep. Baron Hill (D) is considered one of the leading Democrats still looking at getting into the governor’s race. Hill has said he hopes to make a decision this week.
However, many observers believe it is unlikely that Hill will run. On Tuesday, Hill was named as one of seven Chief Deputy Whips by the incoming Democratic leadership.
“I don’t want to be an ‘he also ran,’” Hill told the Indianapolis Star this week, referring to a possible gubernatorial bid. “I want to make sure I’ve got a clear shot at winning.”
On the Republican side, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels, a former Indiana Republican Party chairman, is mulling a run for governor, as is former Sen. Dan Coats (R), currently ambassador to Germany. Former Rep. David McIntosh (R) has already announced he’s running.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Republican Mayor Joins Race; DeMint Favored
Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride (R) became the first official challenger to Sen. Fritz Hollings (D) when he announced his candidacy Monday.
“I really am a candidate for the working man,” McBride said.
McBride won re-election to a second term as mayor in 2002 and previously served on the City Council from 1994 to 1997. He also is the owner of Crabman’s Seafood and Country Buffet in Myrtle Beach.
It remains unclear whether Hollings will seek a seventh term. Hollings, who will be 81 on Election Day 2004, has yet to decide on the race but appears to be leaning against it.
Republicans do not seem daunted by the prospect of facing Hollings.
Rep. Jim DeMint (R), who has held the 4th district seat since 1998, is also expected to make the race and is considered the front-runner.
DeMint is seen as the preferred candidate of the White House.
He must, however, drastically increase his fundraising in order to solidify that status. DeMint showed only $9,000 on hand in his post-election report that covered contributions and expenditures through Nov. 25.
First district Rep. Joe Wilson (R), who was considered DeMint’s main opposition for the GOP nomination, took himself out of contention in December.
Other Republicans contemplating the race include former state Attorney General Charlie Condon and former Rep. Tommy Hartnett.
— Chris Cillizza
Inglis Seeks Comeback In Old House District
Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R) is preparing for a return run for the 4th district seat he held from 1992 to 1998.
The seat will come open in 2004 when Rep. Jim DeMint (R) retires, abiding by the term-limits pledge he took in 1998. DeMint is the leading candidate against Sen. Fritz Hollings (D) in 2004.
Inglis followed much the same course when he left the House after three terms because of his own term-limits pledge and pursued a Senate bid against Hollings in 1998.
Hollings won that race 53 percent to 46 percent. Inglis hamstrung himself by refusing to accept political action committee money, which led to Hollings outspending him by nearly $3 million.
Inglis has said he will not limit his terms if he wins his old seat back.
The Up Country 4th district is the most Republican in the state and would have given President Bush 64 percent of the vote in the 2000 election.
Signs of a Campbell Bid:New Consultants, Truck
Two clues that Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) is planning to seek re-election in 2004:
First, the two-term Senator was quoted in Wednesday’s Denver Post saying that he has hired new consultants to help him raise money. The consulting firm is run by Colorado Republican operatives Cinamon Watson and Sean Tonner. Both were top strategists in Gov. Bill Owens’ (R) re-election campaign last year, Tonner serving as campaign manager, Watson as chief spokeswoman. Tonner is also a former deputy chief of staff to Owens.
Equally significant, Campbell told the Post that he has a new Freightliner truck, which he intends to use for parades and campaign appearances. The truck, with sleeping room for four, will debut in a parade in Durango on Jan. 31.
— Josh Kurtz
State Senator Is First To Seek Gephardt’s Seat
After stepping down from his leadership post and officially entering the presidential race, Rep. Richard Gephardt (D) has announced that he will not seek re-election to his 3rd district seat.
Gephardt’s decision means that the suburban St. Louis district will have a new Member of Congress in 2004 for the first time in 28 years.
Already state Sen. Steve Stoll (D) has announced his candidacy and is seen as the anointed choice of Gephardt’s state political machine.
Stoll has served in the state Senate since 1998 and won re-election in 2002 with 58 percent. He represents a portion of Jefferson County, which takes in much of the St. Louis suburbs.
It remains unclear whether Republicans will contest this Democratic-leaning seat.
“Certainly the potential exists for a Republican to take that seat in Congress,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Communications Director Steve Schmidt.
Gephardt won re-election regularly, but he rarely topped 60 percent of the vote. Bush would have received 43 percent of the vote in the district in the 2000 presidential race.
Weird Science: Masullo Makes GOP Senate Bid
Scientist Miriam Masullo (R) is the first declared candidate for the seat currently held by Sen. Chris Dodd (D).
Citing an “equality platform for the 21st century,” Masullo outlined a platform built on public school choice, elimination of the federal income tax and curtailing federal spending.
In 2002, Masullo ran for the GOP nomination in the heavily Democratic 1st district. She was defeated by Phil Steele 64 percent to 36 percent in the Republican primary despite the fact that she had won her party’s endorsement at a July convention.
Steele went on to lose to Rep. John Larson (D) 67 percent to 33 percent. Masullo ran as a write-in candidate in the general election.
Former state Republican Party Chairman Chris DePino is considered the strongest potential Senate candidate his party could field but has yet to announce a decision about running.
Dodd had served in the Senate since 1980. Although he is pondering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination, it is likely he will run for re-election.
Dodd won 65 percent in his 1998 re-election race against former 5th district Rep. Gary Franks.
Departure Official, Vote For Combest Seat Is Set
Rep. Larry Combest (R) officially tendered his resignation to Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Tuesday.
In a letter to Perry, Combest wrote that “there comes a time in everyone’s life when the focus needs to be more on family than on other things and I am at that point in my life.”
First elected to the West Texas 19th district in 1984, Combest regularly won re-election with ease and had risen to the chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee.
Perry is expected to set a May 3 special election to choose Combest’s replacement.
A gigantic field of Republican candidates has already emerged.
Among the Republicans given a real shot of winning the seat are: state Rep. Carl Isett, former Lubbock City Councilman Randy Neugebauer, Midland businessman Mike Conaway and former Midland Mayor Carroll Thomas.
Only one Democrat, former newscaster Kaye Gaddy, has announced for the race.
The seat heavily tilts toward Republicans, as Bush would have won the seat with 76 percent of the vote in 2000.