NEW YORK: Reynolds Not Worrying About Boehlert Seat

Posted May 23, 2003 at 4:25pm

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) said Friday that he has been informally advising Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R), who may face a primary challenge in the 24th district.

Boehlert, a moderate 11-term incumbent who was challenged from the right in a 2002 primary, could face another conservative opponent. The Post-Standard in Syracuse reported Friday that state Sen. Raymond Meier (R) is thinking of entering the race. Meier burnished his conservative credentials recently by being one of two GOP state Senators to vote against tax increases in the state budget.

Cayuga County legislator David Walrath finished just 2,800 votes behind Boehlert in the 2000 GOP primary, and stayed on the general election ballot in November as the nominee of the Conservative Party, taking almost 22 percent. Walrath is also thinking of entering the 2002 primary, and visited Washington, D.C., earlier this year to confer with such conservative groups as the National Rifle Association and the Club for Growth.

Reynolds said that while the NRCC is generally committed to helping incumbents, “I’m a callous old party chairman. No matter what happens [in the 24th], it’s a Republican seat.”

He added, however, that Boehlert helped himself with conservatives by supporting a bill restricting gun manufacturers’ liability in lawsuits.

The J-shaped 24th district covers several counties in central and northern New York state. Boehlert and Meier are both former executives in Oneida County, the most populous part of the district.

— Josh Kurtz

CALIFORNIA

Republicans Banking On Marin Senate Bid

U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin (R) is expected to run for Senate in 2004 after announcing last week that she would resign her government post on June 30 and return to California.

“Why would you give up a great job like that if you weren’t going to do something like this?” said a GOP consultant about the Senate race.

While sources said Marin has spoken to a variety of Republican leaders in recent weeks about a possible campaign — including White House adviser Karl Rove — she has conferred informally with at least two Republican operatives, Michael Collins in Washington and Kevin Spillane in California. Spillane was a consultant in 2002 to former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan in his unsuccessful bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

Sources said that while Republican leaders believe Marin could be an attractive challenger to two-term Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), the White House, stung by its unsuccessful backing of Riordan in the governor’s race, is unlikely to get involved in a GOP Senate primary.

The only other Republican candidate in the race is Toni Casey, a former mayor of Los Altos Hills and the onetime director of intergovernmental relations at the Small Business Administration under Bush. Marin is also a former mayor of Huntington Park, a small Los Angeles suburb.

Other Republicans considering the Senate race include Rep. George Radanovich (R), who is expected to announce his decision in a matter of days; Assemblyman Abel Maldonado, who is also contemplating a run for state Senate; and Los Angeles corporate lawyer Gary Mendoza — another former Spillane client — who lost a close race for state insurance commissioner in 2002.

— J.K.

NORTH CAROLINA

Powell Joins Crowded 5th District Primary

Former state Rep. Ed Powell (R) last week joined the growing list of candidates who are seeking to replace Rep. Richard Burr (R) in the 5th district next year. Burr is running for Senate.

Powell, a lawyer and former commissioner of the state Division of Motor Vehicles, starts with a hefty endorsement — from former Gov. Jim Holshouser (R), the man who gave him the DMV job.

The field in the Republican stronghold includes two Winston-Salem City Council members, Robert Clark and Vernon Robinson; former Wilkes County Commissioner Joe Byrd; state Sen. Virginia Foxx; Winston-Salem businessman Jay Helvey; Lexington lawyer Jim Snyder, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2002; and Kernersville soy magnate Nathan Tabor.

“Mine’s an uphill battle right now,” Powell was quoted as saying in the Winston-Salem Journal. “I think everyone’s is.”

— J.K.

COLORADO

As the Redistricting World Turns to Court

The Colorado redistricting saga took a few more surprising twists and turns last week.

First, Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson (R) went to the state Supreme Court in an attempt to block a lawsuit filed against the state — and her — by state Attorney General Ken Salazar (D), who had sued to overturn a new Congressional redistricting plan.

The court quickly ruled that Salazar’s lawsuit could proceed. But the court agreed with Davidson’s request that Salazar must justify in writing why he is suing Davidson rather than defending her, which is what state attorneys general usually do when state officials are sued. Davidson has hired outside counsel to defend her against the Salazar suit — and Salazar’s agency is required to pay the legal fees.

Meanwhile, Democratic legislators are objecting to the lawyer Republican leaders in the General Assembly chose to represent the Legislature in the redistricting case. The Republican lawyer is Richard Westfall — who represented Rep. Bob Beauprez (R) in 2002 in his close recount in the 7th district. Beauprez won the district by just 121 votes.

“It’s outrageous … to hire Beauprez’s lawyer to represent all the people of Colorado,” state Sen. Ken Gordon (D) told The Denver Post.

Earlier this month, the GOP-controlled Legislature rammed through a new Congressional district map that solidifies Beauprez’s hold on the 7th and also adds Republican voters to the swing 3rd district. Gov. Bill Owens (R) signed it into law.

Democrats argue that the Legislature did not have the right to take up redistricting in 2003 after deadlocking on the matter in 2001. The map used for the 2002 elections was drawn by a court.

— J.K.