OREGON: GOP Primary Looms to Find Hooley Challenger

Posted February 26, 2003 at 4:13pm

Brian Boquist (R), who was twice defeated by Rep. Darlene Hooley (D) in the 5th district east of the Portland metro area, hopes the third time is the charm. A businessman who took 43 percent and 45 percent of the vote in the past two elections, Boquist filed papers last week to run for Congress again.

But Boquist could face a major primary challenge this cycle.

State Rep. Jeffrey Kropf (R) told Roll Call this week that he is close to entering the race. Kropf is scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C., next week for a National Conference of State Legislatures meeting, and while he’s here he plans to meet with leaders of several interest groups and interview consultants.

“Brian’s been unable to get the job done,” Kropf said. “I think he’d make a great Congressman. But he’s not been able to get the job done two times, so it’s time for someone else to step up.”

Kropf said he has not begun raising money yet because he is abiding by a rule that prevents Oregon officials from fundraising during the legislative session. Although the rule does not apply to Congressional races, raising money for a House run while the Legislature is in session “would carry a certain liability as a practical effect,” he said.

Hooley has represented the swing district since 1996. She has never received more than 57 percent of the vote, and her two predecessors were Republicans.

— Josh Kurtz

CALIFORNIA

Napolitano Will Run, Despite Term Pledge

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D) has modified her term-limit pledge and said she plans to run for re-election in the Los Angeles-area 38th district next year.

Napolitano, who signed a three-term pledge when she was elected in 1998, said this week that she still supports term limits. But she believes — as she says she told term-limit advocates then — that two-year terms for House Members are too short.

Instead, Napolitano plans to run for re-election two more times and retire after serving for five terms. She kicked off her campaign Wednesday by cooking a Mexican breakfast for her supporters at a Capitol Hill fundraiser.

“I think 10 years is enough,” she said. “But here it’s all about seniority, which you need to serve your constituents.”

Napolitano is the ranking member on the House Resources subcommittee on water and power — and water is a critical issue for California.

After winning a competitive Democratic primary to replace veteran Rep. Esteban Torres, Napolitano has been re-elected easily in her predominantly Latino district.

— J.K.

NORTH CAROLINA

Edwards Leads Burr in Poll, but Will He Run?

Sen. John Edwards (D) held a comfortable lead in a recent poll over Rep. Richard Burr (R) in what is seen as one of the top pickup opportunities for Senate GOPers in the 2004 cycle.

Edwards received 49 percent to 31 percent for Burr in the Research 2000 survey, which was in the field Feb. 16-19. The poll tested 600 likely voters and had a 4 percent margin of error.

Most seasoned political observers believe it is unlikely that Burr, the GOP frontrunner, will face Edwards in November 2004. Edwards is currently pursuing the Democratic presidential nomination and seems unlikely to attempt to run for both offices, even though state law permits him to do so.

Burr, who has the tacit backing of the White House and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, formed an exploratory committee earlier this month to raise money for his all-but-certain Senate bid.

A five-term House Member, Burr passed on the 2002 Senate race in deference to former Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Dole (R), who defeated Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles (D).

Burr is the only announced GOP candidate in the Senate race, although Rep. Walter Jones Jr. and 2002 Senate candidate Jim Snyder are also mentioned.

If Edwards chooses against a run for re-election, Bowles would seem to have the first crack on the Democratic side. Rep. Bob Etheridge and 2002 candidate Dan Blue could also make the race.

— Chris Cillizza

NORTH DAKOTA

Coach Brown Will Stay On the Political Sidelines

The political career of former Louisiana State University basketball coach Dale Brown (R) is over before it ever started.

Brown took himself out of contention for the 2004 race against Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) on Monday; Brown urged former Gov. Ed Schafer (R) to make the race.

This is the second race in as many cycles that Brown has openly considered entering before bowing out. He declined a challenge to Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) in 2002 despite being courted by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Even if Brown, who was born in North Dakota, had decided to enter the race, he was given little chance of defeating Dorgan, a two-term Senator.

Schafer, who served as the state’s governor from 1992 to 2000, is seen as the only GOP candidate who could topple Dorgan, but he remains publicly uninterested in the race.

“I don’t expect to be a candidate,” Schafer told The Associated Press on Monday.

Despite these comments, Republican recruiters from both the White House and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have not given up yet.

Polling done in the race shows why. Dorgan held a 49 percent to 43 percent edge over the former governor in an August 2002 survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a GOP firm.

— C.C.

ARIZONA

Flake Confirms Interest In Possible Primary Run

After months of whispered speculation, Rep. Jeff Flake (R) confirmed Tuesday that he is contemplating a primary challenge to Sen. John McCain (R) and will make a decision on the race by this summer.

Flake’s statement comes on the heels of the revelation that despite being a co-chairman of McCain’s first major fundraiser on Feb. 20 in Phoenix, the second-term House Member did not actually attend the event.

McCain’s fundraising had been extremely sluggish prior to the Phoenix event. He showed just $5,000 on hand at the end of 2002. Flake had $170,000 in his war chest at year’s end.

A Flake primary challenge would come from McCain’s ideological right, which is his most vulnerable flank, according to Democrats and Republicans in the state.

McCain has repeatedly antagonized conservatives in the state with his support for campaign finance reform and opposition to President Bush’s tax cut in 2001 among other issues.

As a result of his maverick reputation, McCain is seen as unassailable in a general election because of his strong support from Democrats and independents.

McCain would be “very tough to beat,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Pederson, who is mentioned as a possible Senate candidate himself, though he is unlikely to challenge McCain.

—C.C.

PENNSYLVANIA

Murtha’s Favorite Won’t Run in Toomey District

State Rep. T.J. Rooney (D) announced this week that he will not run for the 15th district seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Pat Toomey (R), who is self term-limited.

Rooney was being recruited to run by Rep. John Murtha (D), the dean of the state’s delegation. Instead, Rooney is expected to become chairman of the state Democratic Party, a job he was handpicked for by newly elected Gov. Ed Rendell (D).

In announcing he wouldn’t run, Rooney said Democrats’ chances of regaining control of the swing seat remain high.

“I’m confident that both the 15th Congressional district and the U.S. Congress will return to control to our party” in 2004, he said in a release.

With Rooney out of the race, several other candidates are still eyeing the seat. State Sens. Charlie Dent (R) and Lisa Boscola (D) are among those considered likely to run next year.

— Lauren W. Whittington

GEORGIA

To the Max: Democrats Already Eye Burns Seat

Just two months into the 2004 election cycle, an already crowded field of potential challengers to freshman Rep. Max Burns (R), pegged as one of this cycle’s most vulnerable incumbents, is emerging.

At least three Democrats have said publicly that they are considering a bid against Burns, who won the seat with 55 percent last year after facing a damaged Democratic opponent.

State Rep. Keith Heard (D) told The Augusta Chronicle this week that he is “very seriously considering” running and expects to have an exploratory committee put together in the next 30 days.

Other Democrats weighing bids are attorney and former state Sen. Doug Haines (D) and Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow (D).

The Democratic-leaning 12th district was one of two new seats Georgia gained during reapportionment.

— L.W.W.

NEW YORK

R.I.P.: Once a Player, Liberal Party Pulls Plug

The Liberal Party, whose candidates had appeared on state ballots for 58 years and swayed several elections, has gone out of business.

The Liberals lost their automatic ballot access last year because their 2002 gubernatorial candidate, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, failed to gain 50,000 votes. In the end, the party was neither liberal nor much of a party, and instead had become a vehicle for patronage and influence-peddling.

Founded in the 1940s by labor leaders, the party took advantage of New York’s fusion laws, and maximized its influence by endorsing Democrats or Republicans when it didn’t run candidates of its own. It frequently served as a way for Democrats who were hesitant to vote for the GOP to support liberal Republicans anyway — such as former Sen. Jacob Javits (R) and former Rep. Bill Green (R).

Two Republican mayors of New York City — John Lindsay and Rudolph Giuliani — would not have been elected without the Liberal ballot line. But the Liberals also may have been responsible for the election of conservative Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R) in 1980. D’Amato defeated Javits in the GOP primary that year, but Javits remained in the general election as a Liberal, siphoning progressive votes from then-Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, the Democrat.

From the 1980s until its demise, the party was controlled by lawyer Ray Harding, who cashed in on his influence with Giuliani to become one of New York’s highest-paid lobbyists.

— J.K.