OREGON: Candidate to Campaign While on Army Duty
Businessman Brian Boquist, the two-time GOP nominee in the 5th Congressional district who is making a third bid for the seat, has a problem: He has been called up for military duty.
Boquist, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, is not expected to be discharged until March 2004, just two months before the Republican primary. His tour of duty could take him to several military bases across the country, and to Jordan.
But Peggy Boquist, the candidate’s wife, told Roll Call last week that her husband’s supporters plan to keep his campaign going while he’s gone.
“We still have a large volunteer network,” she said. “I’m going to events when I can. We have a presence.”
Despite receiving 43 percent of the vote against Rep. Darlene Hooley (D) in 2000 and 45 percent in 2002, Brian Boquist does not have the Republican field to himself. Wealthy attorney and former Lake Oswego Board of Education President Jim Zupancic is also running and state Sen. Jackie Winters could join the field.
Republicans believe a well-funded candidate has a good shot against Hooley in a district that would have given George W. Bush a 49 percent to 47 percent edge over Al Gore in 2000.
“He’d better be home by March, that’s all I have to say,” Peggy Boquist said of her husband.
— Josh Kurtz
Knowles Visits DSCC, Still Mum on Senate Bid
Former Gov. Tony Knowles, the Democrats’ leading potential challenger to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in 2004, was in Washington, D.C., again last week, though the trip wasn’t entirely political.
True, Knowles did meet with officials at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — his second such visit in the past several weeks. But Knowles was in town primarily to attend the Yale University class of ’68 35th reunion hosted by another former governor — President Bush.
Knowles also had a meeting here last week at the Pew Oceans Commission, on which he serves. The commission is scheduled to release a groundbreaking report on the health of the world’s oceans this week.
Democrats still hold out hope that Knowles will take on Murkowski, who was appointed to the job late last year by her father, Alaska Gov. — and former Senator — Frank Murkowski (R).
“He’s listening to people,” said Brad Woodhouse, a DSCC spokesman. “He’s obviously keeping very, very close counsel.”
Knowles did not respond to a phone message left at his home late last week.
When Knowles was in town earlier this spring, he met with Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) — all of whom had been governors before coming to the Senate.
Meanwhile, Republicans are touting a recent poll that shows Lisa Murkowski with fairly high favorability ratings. Taken May 4-6 by Republican polling firm Moore Information, the survey showed that 57 percent of Alaskans had a favorable opinion of Murkowski, while 15 percent were unfavorable. Knowles, by contrast, was viewed favorably by 56 percent of voters, but unfavorably by 32 percent.
A Democratic poll released earlier this spring showed both Murkowskis with less than sterling favorability ratings.
“This lays to rest the notion that she’s vulnerable,” said a GOP strategist familiar with the Moore poll.
Neither party released the “head-to-head” results of their polls pitting Murkowski against Knowles — or against former Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, whom the Democrats would likely turn to if Knowles does not run.
The GOP poll of 500 voters had a 4 percent margin of error, and in an oversample of GOP voters it found that Murkowski had a 74 percent to 5 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. This would appear to lessen the possibility that Murkowski could face a primary challenge next year.
Poll Shows Burr Gain, With Edwards Unsure
Although Sen. John Edwards (D) remains undecided about whether he will run for re-election even as he pursues his party’s presidential nomination, a new poll showed that his Senate prospects are endangered.
Edwards led the likely Republican nominee, Rep. Richard Burr, 47 percent to 36 percent in the Research 2000 poll, which tested 600 likely voters May 18-21. The survey’s margin of error was 4 percent.
Republicans have largely coalesced around Burr, who has held a Winston-Salem-based district since 1994.
Democrats continue to wait and see what Edwards ultimately decides, though his strong financial showing in the first quarter of the year made it less likely that he would attempt to hold on to his Senate seat.
If Edwards does not run, 2002 nominee Erskine Bowles is seen as the most likely Democratic candidate. He took 45 percent of the vote against Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R).
Former state Rep. Dan Blue, who placed second to Bowles in 2002, and Rep. Bob Etheridge are also mentioned.
— Chris Cillizza
Another Self-Funder Enters Crowded Field
Businessman John Cosgrove last week became the ninth Republican candidate to enter the race to replace Rep. Richard Burr (R).
Cosgrove, who served in the first Persian Gulf War, has run for Congress once before, losing a 1998 12th district primary to Chad Mitchell by 105 votes. Cosgrove has never held elected office.
He joins a field heavy with GOP office holders, including state Sen. Virginia Foxx and Winston-Salem City Councilmen Vernon Robinson and Robert Clark. Lobbyist and former state Rep. Ed Powell recently joined the contest as well.
Both Jay Helvey and soy magnate Nathan Tabor are wealthy businessmen who have pledged to spend significant personal resources on the campaign. Cosgrove said he would come up with $100,000 out of his pocket for the race.
No Democrats have announced in this strongly Republican district.
Burr is running against Sen. John Edwards (D).
Capito Won’t Follow in Father’s Footsteps Yet
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) ruled out a potential bid for governor in 2004 and said she would run for re-election to a third term.
Capito said at a Lincoln Day dinner last week that she was “tremendously honored to serve in the House” and plans to “stay put” for now.
Capito became the first Republican elected to the West Virginia delegation since 1980 when she won the 2nd district seat vacated by now-Gov. Bob Wise (D) in 2000.
After taking only 48.5 percent in that race, she won a more convincing 60 percent in a 2002 rematch with lawyer Jim Humphreys.
Wise, who held the seat for 18 years before winning the governor’s office, is embroiled in a scandal surrounding an acknowledged extramarital affair with a state employee.
Several Democrats, including West Virginia Secretary of State Joe Manchin, are contemplating a primary challenge.
Capito’s father, Arch Moore, served in the House from 1957 to 1969; he also was elected to three terms as the state’s governor from 1968 to 1976 and again from 1984 to 1988.
Ryan Enters Senate Race On ‘Happiness’ Pledge
Former investment banker Jack Ryan (R) formally announced his candidacy last week for the open seat of retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R), pledging to spend up to $6 million of his own money on the contest.
Ryan said his candidacy was about “happiness for yourself” and “happiness to making other people fulfilled in their own lives” in a speech at the state Capitol.
Ryan has been touted as an up and comer in Illinois politics since 2002, when he contemplated making a bid against Sen. Dick Durbin (D).
Ryan joins Andy McKenna Jr., a paper company executive, in the race for the Republican nomination.
The Democratic field is more crowded with seven candidates in the running. Two wealthy businessmen — Blair Hull and John Simmons — as well as state Comptroller Dan Hynes, state Sen. Barack Obama, former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley Chief of Staff Gery Chico and health care advocate Joyce Washington are likely to run.
Governor May Shun ’06 Fight With Sen. Nelson
Gov. Mike Johanns (R) seemed to back away last week from an expected challenge to Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in 2006.
“The ideal situation for me would be if a Chuck Hagel-type person … said, ‘I want to run for the United States Senate,’” Johanns said at a news conference.
Hagel was an unknown businessman — and Vietnam War veteran — before he upset then-Gov. Nelson in the 1996 Senate race.
Nelson bounced back to win the open seat of Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) in 2000 but is seen as a top target for Republicans in 2006 because of the strong Republican lean of the Cornhusker State.
Johanns, who replaced Nelson as the state’s top elected official in 1998, will be term-limited out of the post in 2006 and has been widely expected to make the contest.
“There is no Senate race,” Johanns said. “That is just not what I have to worry about today.”
In the event Johanns decides not to run, former state Attorney General Don Stenberg is seen as the strongest GOP candidate. Stenberg lost the Republican primary to Hagel in 1996 and the 2000 general election to Nelson by 5,000 votes.
Inglis May Have Field To Himself in the 4th
Greenville School Trustee William Herlong (R) has dropped his candidacy for the 4th district seat less than two months after entering the race.
“My reasons are strictly personal, not political,” Herlong told The Greenville News.
His departure leaves former Rep. Bob Inglis as the only announced Republican candidate in the race. Inglis held the Up Country 4th district from 1992 to 1998 when he abided by a term-limits pledge and ran against Sen. Fritz Hollings (D).
Inglis lost that race 53 percent to 46 percent, handicapped by his refusal to accept money from political action committees.
Inglis has decided to accept PAC money for this race, and showed $138,000 on hand in his April quarterly filing.
The seat is being vacated by Rep. Jim DeMint (R), who replaced Inglis and is continuing to follow in his footsteps by making a run against Hollings.
Insiders Believe Hoeffel Can’t Beat Specter in ’04
Can Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) beat Sen. Arlen Specter (R) next year if he decides to run for Senate? The armchair political strategists who read the Web site PoliticsPA.com say no.
As of last Thursday, 54 percent of the Web site’s readers said Specter would beat Hoeffel in a hypothetical Senate race. But 69 percent said Hoeffel would beat Rep. Pat Toomey (R), who is challenging Specter in a GOP primary. More than 1,200 people had participated in the unscientific survey.
In a separate feature, PoliticsPA.com addressed the Democrats’ inability to find a strong Senate candidate so far by listing 29 people the party might turn to. The list of long-shot, big-name candidates included Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America; Teresa Heinz-Kerry, wife of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and widow of the late Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.); and Pat Croce, former president of the Philadelphia 76ers (who lives in New Jersey).
Listed in the likely category: John Hanger, leader of the PennFuture environmental organization, who has already announced his intention to run, and former software company executive Charlie Crystle — who could just as easily wait until 2006 to run for Senate, by the Web site’s own calculations.
New Poll Has Mixed Numbers for Feingold
A recent poll had mixed results for the re-election prospects of Sen. Russ Feingold (D), who is likely to seek a third term next year.
The Badger Poll, conducted for The Capital Times and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, found that 45 percent of Dairy State voters believe Feingold is doing a good or excellent job; 40 percent rated it fair or poor.
Asked whether they would definitely vote for Feingold, 41 percent yes, 34 percent said no, and 25 percent said they would be willing to consider someone else.
“A two-term incumbent U.S. Senator who has a mere 41 percent of his constituents supporting his re-election has good reason to be concerned,” Wisconsin GOP Chairman Rick Graber crowed in The Capital Times.
But while a Republican challenger — of any stature — has yet to emerge, that could soon change. Former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow (R), who was expected to retire from politics after her term ended last year, now says she would consider running.
“I am leaving the door open a crack,” the 68-year-old former official told the Oconomowoc Focus newspaper.
State Sen. Robert Welch (R), the party’s nominee against Sen. Herb Kohl (D) in 1994, is also weighing a Senate bid.