NEW JERSEY: LoBiondo Breaks Pledge, Will Run in 2006
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) will announce today that he is breaking his pledge to serve no more than 12 years in the House, according to GOP sources.
LoBiondo first made the pledge in his 1994 GOP primary race against state Sen. Bill Gormley; LoBiondo won that race 54 percent to 35 percent and easily won the general with 65 percent in a tremendous year for Republicans nationally.
Democrats have never seriously challenged LoBiondo despite the district’s swing nature. Al Gore would have taken 56 percent in the 2nd in the 2000 presidential election.
LoBiondo’s decision means he is unlikely to run against Gov. James McGreevey (D) in 2005 or against Sen. Jon Corzine (D) in 2006.
LoBiondo’s name was in the mix for the 2000 open Senate seat, eventually won by Corzine, as well as in 2002 as a potential challenger to then-Sen. Robert Torricelli (D).
— Chris Cillizza
‘Real World’ Star Sees Reality of D.C. World
Former MTV “Real World” cast member Sean Duffy was in Washington, D.C., last week meeting with Republican leaders and party officials, as he mulls a challenge to Rep. David Obey (D) in 2004.
Duffy, who is considering whether to form a campaign committee to explore a bid, is currently Ashland County district attorney and has said he will make a decision about the race by mid-August.
The 31-year-old appeared on “The Real World Boston” in 1997 and was elected to his current position last November.
Obey, who is currently serving his 18th term, was re-elected in 2002 with 64 percent of the vote and has not faced a high-profile challenge in years.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Former Senator’s Son To Run in 5th District
Ed Broyhill (R), the son of former Sen. Jim Broyhill, is poised to run for the open 5th district of Rep. Richard Burr (R), Republican sources said last week. Broyhill’s entrance likely places him at or near the top of a crowded field and is expected to drive several other candidates out of the race.
Broyhill is the heir to both a political and business empire in the Tarheel State. His father served in the House from 1962 until July 1986 when he was appointed to the Senate following the suicide of Sen. John East (R). Later that year, Broyhill lost a bid for a full term to Sen. Terry Sanford (D).
The Broyhill family runs one of the largest furniture making companies in the country.
In other news, Winston-Salem City Councilman Robert Clark (R) dropped his candidacy, citing a dearth of time to both campaign and manage his textile equipment company.
“It’s a full-time job running [for office] and I already have a full-time job running my own business and a part time job as a city councilman,” Clark told the Winston-Salem Journal.
Meanwhile, Clark’s councilmate, Vernon Robinson, has received a major boost to his fledgling candidacy from former Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.). Kemp, who was the party’s 1996 vice presidential nominee, has circulated a fundraising letter to Republican donors backing Robinson.
Robinson, who is black, “will help fill the void left in the Republican Party by the retirement of J.C. Watts,” Kemp wrote.
Watts, who retired in 2002, was the only black Republican in Congress.
Among the other serious Republican candidates: state Sen. Virginia Foxx, former state Rep. Ed Powell, attorney and 2002 Senate candidate Jim Snyder as well as wealthy businessmen Jay Helvey and Nathan Tabor.
Burr is leaving the seat after five terms to challenge Sen. John Edwards (D).
GOP Leader: Candidates Lack ‘Panache’ of A-List
Wealthy Potomac businessman Joshua Rales (R) has taken himself out of consideration for the 2004 Senate race, leaving Republicans scrambling for a candidate to challenge three-term Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D).
Maryland GOP Chairman John Kane told The Baltimore Sun last week that several other people on his Senate wish list have also decided to take a pass, including Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, First Lady Kendel Ehrlich and former Rep. Connie Morella.
Kane, according to the newspaper, “doesn’t sound thrilled” at the alternatives.
“We have a couple of other folks out there who I wouldn’t say are ‘B’ candidates, but they don’t have as much panache as the first couple of candidates,” he said.
National and Maryland Republicans privately agree that Mikulski is all but unbeatable. But some Republicans believe the 2006 Senate election, when Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D) will either retire or seek an unprecedented sixth term, is far more winnable. And they wonder whether a candidate looking to make a serious run in 2006 might use a Mikulski challenge as a tune-up.
— Josh Kurtz
Hall Won’t Base Re-elect Plans on Redistricting
Rep. Ralph Hall (D), the oldest member of the House, told The Dallas Morning News that he may run for a 13th term in 2004 regardless of what his district looks like following the ongoing redistricting special session in the Texas Legislature.
“Just leave Rockwall in some district, and I probably would be running,” Hall said, referring to his hometown. “I won’t make that decision until October, no matter where the district is.”
The state Legislature, controlled by Republicans, is currently meeting in a 30-day session that began last week in an attempt to restructure the state’s Congressional lines to elect two to six more GOPers to Congress.
Democrats control the state’s delegation 17-15, and Republicans, led by Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), have long argued that the Congressional representation is not reflective of the growing GOP makeup of the state.
Hall, 80, symbolizes Democrats’ response that several of their Members win in strongly Republican districts. President Bush would have taken 70 percent of the vote in the 4th in the 2000 presidential election.
Pro-Choice Group Wants Democrats to Join GOP
A group of abortion-rights supporters has announced a $20,000 campaign to bring Pennsylvania “Rendellicans” back into the GOP fold in time for the 2004 GOP Senate primary between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Pat Toomey, The Associated Press reported.
The D.C.-based Republican Pro-Choice Coalition will use a direct-mail and phone campaign to target an estimated 20,000 Republicans who switched parties in order to vote for now-Gov. Ed Rendell (D) in the 2002 gubernatorial primary. Rendell is a onetime Philadelphia mayor and remains popular in the city’s GOP-leaning suburbs.
Specter supports abortion rights, while Toomey, who is attempting to paint the four-term Senator as too liberal for the party, favors abortion only in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.
Former Legislator Has Sights Set on Simmons
Former state Rep. Shaun McNally (D) made his challenge to Rep. Rob Simmons (R) official late last week.
McNally resigned from his position as director of public affairs for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association last Monday and filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission.
McNally briefly entered the race last cycle but dropped out after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Fellow former state Rep. Joe Courtney (D) easily won the nomination but lost to Simmons 46 percent to 54 percent. Courtney has ruled out running in 2004.
McNally served in the state House from 1986 to 1992 representing the Norwich area, though he now lives in Deep River, in the western part of the sprawling 2nd district, which takes in most of eastern Connecticut.
Simmons won the district in 2000 by beating 10-term incumbent Sam Gejdenson (D) in one of the most stunning upsets of the cycle.
The district favors Democrats, as Al Gore carried it 54 percent to 40 percent in the 2000 presidential election.
Court-Approved Map Benefits Rep. Michaud
The Pine Tree State’s Supreme Judicial Court last week set new Congressional district boundaries to be used in the 2004 elections. Because Maine has only two Congressional districts, the changes are not radical, but they appear to favor Democrats slightly.
The primary changes are in Kennebec County in the central part of the state, with the 1st and 2nd districts swapping several communities. The more competitive 2nd district, which is represented by freshman Rep. Mike Michaud (D), is picking up the Democratic-leaning communities of Waterville and Winslow.
“It’s certainly better for Democrats,” Paul Tessier, former vice chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, told the Kennebec Journal last week.
Michaud defeated Republican Kevin Raye 52 percent to 48 percent last year in a race that went down to the wire. Rep. Tom Allen (D) wins the Portland-based 1st district with ease.
Forever Young: Not Thinking Retirement
Rep. Don Young (R) appears prepared to stay in Congress for the rest of his life. Young, 70, announced last week that he will be a candidate for a 17th term in 2004.
Democrats have all but ceded the seat to the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure chairman. And Young made it clear that he has no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.
“As long as I stay well, I’m going to keep doing it,” Young told the Anchorage Daily News.
In fact, he suggested that he might aim higher in the House leadership — perhaps even seeking to become Speaker — when his term as chairman ends in 2006.
Young’s wife, Lu, was even more emphatic that her husband plans to serve for a long time.
“We’re here as long as possible,” she said. “I just want to let you know, the Youngs do not retire.”
Nethercutt Apologizes For the Melodrama
Political operatives from both parties are becoming increasingly skeptical that Rep. George Nethercutt (R) will challenge Sen. Patty Murray (D) in 2004. Nethercutt did nothing to erase that perception when he told members of the Clarkston Rotary Club last week that while he’s “very, very tempted to run,” he fears the possibility of losing.
“Oh God, it’s a hard choice for me,” the Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune quoted the six-term Congressman as saying. “And I don’t mean to be melodramatic.”
President Bush’s campaign operatives say they plan to make Washington a top priority in 2004, but the GOP’s inability to find a strong challenger to Murray is deflating the party. State Party Chairman Chris Vance, a former state legislator, is seen as the likeliest to run if Nethercutt does not. Republicans also do not know who their candidate for governor will be in 2004 — a race that could also be competitive if the GOP finds the right nominee.