VIRGINIA: Ex-Racing Exec Triplett Revs Up for Boucher
Former NASCAR executive Kevin Triplett (R) formally announced Monday that he will seek to unseat 11-term Rep. Rick Boucher (D) in 2004.
In a five-city announcement tour, Triplett cited growing unemployment and poverty levels in the district as just two of the reasons he feels residents are hungry for a change.
“I’m not running against anybody as much as I’m running for the people of the 9th,” Triplett said at a stop in Abingdon, Boucher’s hometown.
A native of Clintwood, Va., the 38-year-old Triplett left his job as managing director of business operations for NASCAR in June to return to the district and prepare for a run.
Boucher is widely popular in the district, commonly referred to as the “Fightin’ 9th.” Although the rural district has conservative leanings, especially on social issues, Boucher has easily won re-election during the past two decades. Gov. Mark Warner (D) carried the district in the 2001 gubernatorial contest, while the district voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Doctor Will Call Again In Toomey District
Lehigh County Commissioner Joe Pascuzzo (R) joined the open-seat race in the 15th district Tuesday.
Pascuzzo, a physician who finished fourth in the 1998 GOP primary for the Allentown-based seat, told The Morning Call newspaper that he would appeal to conservatives who tend to hold sway in the Republican contest.
“I think that my ideals and my hopes for America in the future really dovetail nicely with those in the 15th district,” he said.
Most of the Republican establishment has already lined up behind moderate state Sen. Charlie Dent in the race to replace Rep. Pat Toomey (R), who is retiring to run for Senate. Attorney Brian O’Neill is also in the GOP race, courting conservative voters.
Although the 15th is considered a swing district — Al Gore would have edged George W. Bush by 1 percent in the 2000 presidential election — Democrats have struggled to find a candidate.
— Josh Kurtz
Long-Shot Candidate to Hold First Fundraiser
Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride (R) will hold the first fundraiser of his Senate campaign Thursday in what by all accounts is a one-in-a-million bid for the Republican nomination.
McBride sent out nearly 10,000 invitations for the Myrtle Beach event but told a local newspaper Tuesday that he has received only “a few dozen” replies so far.
The mayor, who is in his second term, entered the race in January prior to the retirement of Sen. Fritz Hollings (D), but he has lagged behind — both financially and organizationally — the campaigns of Rep. Jim DeMint (R), former state Attorney General Charlie Condon (R) and wealthy Charleston developer Thomas Ravenel (R).
Both DeMint and Ravenel have raised more than $1 million for the contest so far, while Condon has put together roughly $600,000. McBride did not file a financial report with the Federal Election Commission at the end of June, meaning that he had not yet raised $5,000.
Meanwhile, DeMint announced a team of 29 finance co-chairmen throughout the state, including the three men who headed up President Bush’s Palmetto State fundraising efforts during the 2000 campaign.
“I’m energized by the team of fundraising heavyweights our campaign has put together,” DeMint said. “I’m encouraged that so many key leaders have lined up behind us this early.”
On the Democratic side, state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum and Columbia Mayor Bob Coble are competing.
— Chris Cillizza
One Gets In, One Is on The Air in Senate Race
Although he had already announced his intention to run, state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger formally joined the crowded GOP Senate field on Tuesday.
Rauschenberger started the day in his hometown of Elgin before stopping in Rockford and Dixon. He is scheduled to continue his statewide swing later this week.
With at least a half-dozen Republicans vying to replace retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R), Rauschenberger is hoping to capitalize on the institutional support of his colleagues. He is backed by 20 of 24 Republican state Senators and 13 of 53 GOP state Representatives.
Meanwhile, another Republican candidate, businessman Jack Ryan, launched his first radio commercial of the campaign in the Champaign-Springfield, Peoria and Rockford markets. The ads will run concurrently with a TV spot that began airing late last week.
The radio ad talks about how Ryan, after 15 years as a successful investment banker, switched careers to teach at an inner-city high school in Chicago.
“It’s not TV — it’s not even reality TV,” the announcer in the ad says. “It’s real life, the life of Jack Ryan.”
Krolicki Will Decide on Reid Race by Year’s End
State Treasurer Brian Krolicki (R) was in Washington, D.C., last week to meet with national party officials about the possibility of challenging Sen. Harry Reid (D) in 2004.
Krolicki told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the response he got “was very encouraging, with cautionary notes on the difficulties” of running against an entrenched three-term Senator. Krolicki said he would make a decision on the race within two or three months.
Republicans still hold out hope that they can knock off Reid, despite his bulging $3.1 million campaign war chest as of June 30. But they were dealt a blow when Rep. Jim Gibbons (R) declined to run.
Last week, state Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt (R) also took herself out of consideration for the Senate seat. Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller (R) is still pondering the race, but he is considered to be far more interested in running for Gibbons’ 2nd district seat whenever he moves on.
Hart Says He Wants Udall to Run for Senate
It was hardly a definitive statement.
But former Sen. Gary Hart (D) did address the question of whether he’d challenge Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) in 2004 — sort of — during an interview Tuesday on CNN. Hart said he wants Rep. Mark Udall (D) to run.
Give CNN anchorwoman Judy Woodruff credit for trying to get a straight answer out of the former two-term Senator. But Hart would not be moved, and spoke glowingly of Udall’s record and political potential.
Asked finally if he was ruling out a run for his old seat, Hart replied: “I’m not ruling it in. I’m hoping Congressman Mark Udall will be the candidate.”
Woodruff had to give up and move on to another topic. So the Hart rumors will persist.