PENNSYLVANIA: Democrats Return to the Drawing Board in 15th
State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D) announced last week that she will pass on the 15th district race to succeed Rep. Pat Toomey (R), sending Democrats back to the drawing board in their quest to find a candidate in one of this cycle’s few competitive open seats.
Toomey is running for Senate in 2004, and Boscola had been the most prominent Democratic name mentioned for the 15th district race after two other potential candidates passed on running earlier this year.
“It pains me at this late stage not to have a first-tier candidate,” state Rep. T.J. Rooney, a top-tier contender himself who passed on the race to become state Democratic chairman, told the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call last week. “We will continue to work diligently to find a top-flight candidate who can prevail in what is going to be a competitive district.”
The Lehigh-based district is a moderate swing district, considered to be especially competitive in a presidential election year. Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore won the district in 2000 with 49 percent of the vote.
Marlborough Town Supervisor Jim Maza (D) has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but he is not known by a majority of voters in the district.
State Sen. Charlie Dent is the leading Republican in the race. Dent has the backing of National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) as well as the Keystone State’s GOP delegation. Dent had close to $250,000 in cash on hand at the end of June.
Still, Dent faces primary competition. Attorney Brian O’Neill filed to run in the GOP primary last week, and Lehigh County Commissioner Joe Pascuzzo (R) is also considering running.
In other open-seat political news in the state, National Constitution Center President Joe Torsella (D) officially entered the 13th district race last week, setting up a competitive primary for Democrats hopeful they will hold the seat.
Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) is vacating the seat — which is based in Montgomery County and northeast Philadelphia — to run for Senate. The swing district was made more favorable for Democrats during last cycle’s redistricting.
Torsella’s entrance in the race sets up a competitive showdown with state Sen. Allyson Schwartz (D), who has garnered the backing of EMILY’s List. State Rep. Mark Cohen is also running in the primary.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Goldwater Won’t Flow In 3rd House District
A leading potential Democratic contender for Nevada’s 3rd district House seat last week took himself out of the running in the race to challenge freshman Rep. Jon Porter (R) in 2004.
David Goldwater, a Nevada Assemblyman from Clark County, said he decided against a bid because he wanted to continue his work in the state Legislature.
“It is not a good time for me to run,” Goldwater said. However, the 33-year-old investment consultant has not ruled out a bid federal office in the future.
Goldwater earlier said that taking on Porter would be “an uphill battle.”
Although the 3rd, which was created in the last round of redistricting, is considered politically competitive, Democrats have been unable to convince a top-tier challenger to enter the race, and Porter is sitting on $302,000 in his campaign account.
Democrats considering running for the suburban Las Vegas-based seat next year include state Assemblyman John Oceguera, a North Las Vegas firefighter, and lobbyist Paul Henry, former chairman of the state Democratic Party.
— Bree Hocking
Independent Poll Finds Daschle With Slim Lead
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) held a 2-point lead over former Rep. John Thune (R) in a recently released independent poll.
Daschle took 48 percent to Thune’s 46 percent in the survey, which was conducted Aug. 26 and 27 by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. It tested 400 registered voters with a 4.9 percent margin of error.
This is the first independent poll testing Daschle versus Thune — although several Republican surveys have produced similar results, with Daschle holding a narrow lead.
Thune, who held the state’s at-large House seat before narrowly losing a 2002 race to Sen. Tim Johnson (D), is being heavily recruited to run by national Republicans and is expected to make the race.
Daschle has been running ads since July touting his legislative record; the Club for Growth ran ads in August attacking Daschle for purchasing a $1.9 million home with his wife in Washington, D.C.
The Senate race has largely been put on hold since Rep. Bill Janklow (R) allegedly killed a motorcyclist at a stop sign in an auto accident last month. Janklow, a former four-term governor, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Speculation swirls that Janklow may resign the seat, creating a special election race that some Republicans are hoping Thune would enter. Stephanie Herseth, the 2002 House nominee, is the likely Democratic candidate under such a scenario.
— Chris Cillizza
Challenge to Beauprez For 2004 Is in the Works
Political neophyte John Works will meet with Democratic Party leaders and Democratic-leaning interest groups in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss his interest in challenging freshman Rep. Bob Beauprez (R) in 2004.
According to The Denver Post last week, Works, a 49-year-old banker who finances oil and gas ventures, is the first Democrat in the suburban 7th district to begin raising money. He told the newspaper that despite his lack of political experience, his business background will appeal to voters.
“There seems to be a trend today in the voter community of people bringing their experience and judgment to bear on the problems we all face,” he said.
Beauprez won the closest House election in the country last cycle, eking out a 122-vote victory over then-state Sen. Mike Feeley (D) in the newly created 7th. But the state Legislature redrew the district earlier this year, making it far more favorable to Republicans.
Before the newest lines were drawn, the 7th was expected to be just as competitive next year, and several big-name Democrats were eyeing the race. Democrats have challenged the new district lines in court, but unless they are overturned, Works could have the field to himself.
If the boundaries revert to their old form, Works could find himself in a race for the Democratic nomination with some combination of Feeley, former Colorado Director of Public Safety Dave Thomas, state Senate Minority Leader Joan Fitz-Gerald, former state Sen. Ed Perlmutter, and state Rep. Mike Garcia.
“That’s his gamble,” Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Chris Gates said of Works.
— Josh Kurtz
EMILY’s Yeast to Help Farmer Treasury Grow
State Treasurer Nancy Farmer (D) received the endorsement of EMILY’s List late last week, ensuring some financial momentum for her campaign as she prepares to take on Sen. Kit Bond (R) next year.
“Nancy Farmer brings the strong fiscal responsibility that Missourians need during these difficult economic times,” said EMILY’s List President Ellen Malcolm.
The organization, which raises money for Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights, will send out a mailing on Farmer in the coming weeks.
Farmer was the third choice of national Democrats to challenge Bond. After state Auditor Claire McCaskill and Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell turned down their entreaties, they turned to Farmer. She was elected to her current post in 2000, but even Democrats admit that she has a low-profile statewide.
In order to correct that problem, Farmer must raise substantial funds to get known in the Show Me State. She also must contend with the Bond fundraising operation that had already banked $2.8 million through June.
Since coming to the Senate in 1986, Bond has never won an election with more than 53 percent of the vote.
Consultant Becomes 1st Official McCarthy Foe
Public policy consultant Damian Thorman (D) announced last week that he will take on embattled Rep. Karen McCarthy (D) in next year’s primary.
Thorman told the Kansas City Star that he was unhappy with the agenda being forwarded by President Bush, and “I hear really nothing but silence from the current incumbent.”
McCarthy underwent treatment for alcoholism earlier this year after a high-profile incident in the Capitol. She has lost numerous staffers since the incident, including two chiefs of staff.
Thorman spent more than a decade in Washington, D.C., as a Congressional aide, including a stint in the office of then-Rep. Alan Wheat (D-Mo.).
Another potential primary candidate is Jamie Metzl, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former staffer for Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.). Metzl moved back to Kansas City late last week and is likely to enter the race.
The district is strongly Democratic and prior to her personal problems, McCarthy held it easily in her five terms in office. She was re-elected in 2002 with 66 percent of the vote.
Labor Boosts Stoll in Gephardt Seat Primary
State Sen. Steve Stoll (D) received the endorsement of the Missouri Laborers last week, giving his campaign to replace Rep. Richard Gephardt (D) a boost.
“I’m optimistic that we will win this election and then we can work together to bring more, better-paying jobs to Missouri,” Stoll said after the Laborers, an umbrella organization for several unions, gave him its nod.
Stoll is one of four Democrats seeking the open St. Louis-area seat. State Reps. Russ Carnahan and Joan Barry as well as St. Louis Circuit Clerk Mariano Favazza round out the field. Carnahan is the son of late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan and former Sen. Jean Carnahan (Mo.).
Gephardt is vacating the seat after 14 terms to make his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Laborers are the second union group to back Stoll; earlier in the year the St. Louis County Firefighters got behind his candidacy.
Despite his endorsements, Stoll has not been able to keep pace with Carnahan in the fundraising department.
At the end of June, Carnahan had raised $157,000 for the race ($50,000 of which came from a personal loan) and banked $130,000. Stoll brought in $41,000 with $25,000 left in his account. Barry raised just $17,000 with $13,000 on hand. Favazza did not file a financial report with the Federal Election Commission.
‘TV Lee’ Preparing a Challenge to Lincoln
Former Benton County Sheriff Andy Lee (R) is set to run against Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) in 2004 after several more high-profile GOPers took a pass on the race.
“After the first of the year I’m going to hit the trail running,” Lee said.
Lee began his career as a police officer in Washington, D.C., working for the Metropolitan Police Department from 1969 to 1977. After suffering serious injuries in an accident, Lee moved back to his native Bentonville, where he managed a McDonald’s.
In 1988 he ran and won the sheriff’s post in Benton County.
Credited with revamping the office, Lee has also found his way into the public eye repeatedly over his tenure, earning him the nickname “TV Lee.”
Among his many escapades are banning television, smoking and exercise from the county prisons as well as serving the prisoners only cold meals.
Lee also ordered a copy of the Ten Commandments posted in the booking area of the county’s jails.
More prominent Republicans including Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Rep. Asa Hutchinson and Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller have all taken a pass on the race.
Lincoln, who is currently finishing up her first term, had $1.9 million in the bank at the end of June.
Cheney Boosts Senator At Fundraiser — in Texas
With two-thirds of her $1 million war chest already coming from out of state, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) last week traveled to Dallas to take in more money, with Vice President Cheney and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) as the featured attractions.
According to Saturday’s Anchorage Daily News, Murkowski sought to draw connections between Alaskans and the 120 Texans who paid $1,000 a head to boost her campaign.
“We like things big,” she said. “We like big open spaces and big trucks and big guns.”
J. Roger Williams, a Texas car dealer who raised more than $388,000 for President Bush and Cheney in 2000, cast his decision to support Murkowski at the fundraiser as another way to support Bush. Bob King, a spokesman for Murkowski’s likely Democratic foe, former Gov. Tony Knowles, blasted the Senator for relying on Cheney’s star power.
“We don’t have to bring in a vice president or Cabinet secretary or someone to attract a crowd,” he said.
Former Bingaman Aide Enters 2nd District Race
A former aide to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) announced his intention last week to challenge freshman Rep. Steve Pearce (R) in 2004.
Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces, who was Bingaman’s field representative in southwest and south-central New Mexico for two years, became the first Democratic candidate in a district where Democrats believe they can be competitive. He also worked for Gov. Bill Richardson (D) when Richardson served in Congress.
“Our state has a long history of bipartisanship and we need a leader who can work for those interests,” Steinborn told the Las Cruces Sun-News.
After winning a competitive primary, Pearce took 56 percent of the vote in the 2nd district general election against state Sen. John Arthur Smith (D). Smith may run again; former state Rep. Gary King (D), son of former Gov. Bruce King (D), is also weighing a candidacy, though he does not live in the sprawling district, which covers roughly the southern half of the Land of Enchantment.
Cleland Backs Barrow in Democratic Race in 12th
The Congressional campaign of Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow (D) got a high-powered endorsement this week from one of the state’s foremost veterans: former Sen. Max Cleland (D).
“Unlike the incumbent, John Barrow will fight for disabled veterans,” Cleland, a triple amputee and Vietnam War veteran, said in endorsing Barrow.
Barrow, who never served in the military, is one of two Democrats currently seeking to challenge freshman Rep. Max Burns (R), a top target for Democrats next year. Burns served in the Army Reserves from 1973 to 1981.
Former state Sen. Doug Haines (D) is also running. Several other potential candidates have been mentioned on the Democratic side, among them are former Rep. Cynthia McKinney and state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond.
In his loss to then-Rep. and now-Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) last year, Cleland won approximately 57 percent of the vote in the 12th district, which stretches from Savannah to Augusta to Athens and heavily favors Democrats.