NEW YORK: State Lawmaker Raising Money for House Run
A state Senator has scheduled a fundraiser to launch a Congressional bid in the 29th district, which is now held by veteran Rep. Amo Houghton (R).
But it is not clear whether state Sen. Randy Kuhl Jr. (R) intends to challenge Houghton in a primary or is merely preparing for the day when the 76-year-old Congressman eventually decides to retire.
Houghton has not said whether he will seek a 10th term in 2004, but he did raise some money in the first quarter of 2003. National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) said recently that while he does not know what Houghton will do, his colleague appears to be keeping up a very vigorous schedule.
“I think you’ll have to wait ’til April  to see what he does,” Reynolds observed.
Kuhl, who has represented New York’s Southern Tier in the Senate since 1986, has a Congressional fundraiser scheduled for later this month in Albany. He is one of about half a dozen Republicans eyeing Houghton’s seat.
Stephen Minarik III, chairman of the Monroe County GOP, said he doubted that any of them would challenge Houghton in a primary.
“People talk a little bit,” he said. “But in reality, to take on an incumbent Congressman who isn’t lacking for funds I think would be a suicide mission.”
Houghton is an heir to the Corning glassworks fortune.
— Josh Kurtz
Candidate Has Miles To Go Before He Sleeps
He isn’t the top-tier challenger they are dreaming about, but Democrats now have a candidate in the race to take on two-term Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) in 2004.
He is Mike Miles, the 46-year-old principal of a middle school in Fountain, just outside of Colorado Springs. While he has been preparing to run and raising money since 2001 — and now has $70,000 in his campaign account — Miles formally announced his candidacy on Friday.
Miles, who is half black and half Asian-American, is a former Army Ranger and foreign service officer. While he describes himself as an obvious underdog, he told The Denver Post on Friday, “I am not the underdog in experiences that matter.”
Miles was scheduled to begin campaigning door-to-door on Sunday. He said he hopes to visit 25 counties by the end of the summer.
Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping a more high-profile challenger gets into the race. The Democrats’ dream candidates include state Attorney General Ken Salazar, Reps. Mark Udall and Diana DeGette, and outgoing Denver Mayor Wellington Webb.
Some Democrats are not convinced that Campbell will wind up running in the end, and they believe that one of their top-flight candidates will enter the race if the Senator decides to retire. But Sean Tonner, a Colorado GOP consultant working for Campbell, told Roll Call that his boss is aggressively raising money — he had $343,000 in the bank through March 31 — and preparing for the election.
“He’s such a rock star,” Tonner said. “Campbell lives for campaigns.”
Bill to Aid Challengers Likely to Become Law
A bill that would drastically alter the primary system in the Constitution State passed the state House last week and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. John Rowland (R).
The legislation would abolish the requirement that to appear on the primary ballot a candidate must take 15 percent of the delegate vote at the party convention.
In order to attain a spot on the ballot under the new legislation, a candidate for federal office would have to secure signatures from 2 percent of the registered members of his or her party.
The bill would also move the primary date from September to the second Tuesday in August.
The changes are seen as a boon for challenger candidates who typically did not have the institutional support to gather the required number of delegates at the state convention.
The only seat in the state likely to be targeted by the national parties in 2004 is the 2nd district of Rep. Rob Simmons (R).
Simmons toppled 10-term Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D) in 2000 and then won re-election with 54 percent in 2002 despite a serious challenge from a former state Representative and lieutenant governor nominee.
— Chris Cillizza