TEXAS: Republicans Starting to Jump Into House Races
The recent redrawing of the state’s Congressional lines has already prompted several Republicans to launch bids for the new seats.
State Rep. Kenny Marchant (R) formed an exploratory committee late last week to begin raising money for a race in the new 24th district, which as drawn does not have an incumbent Member living within its bounds.
Marchant said he will make his candidacy official as soon as the Justice Department preclears the map. That process could take up to 60 days.
The district closely resembles one held by Rep. Martin Frost (D), though much of the black vote in Fort Worth has been moved into Rep. Michael Burgess’ (R) neighboring district.
As a result of the line changes, statewide Republican candidates in 2002 would have received 64 percent in the 24th; under the previous lines they would have taken just 42 percent.
Frost is leading a lawsuit seeking to strike down the new lines, arguing that they violate the tenets of the Voting Rights Act.
Marchant joins several other Republicans who have already made their candidacies official.
In the new Midland-centered 11th district, accountant Mike Conaway has entered the race. Conaway narrowly lost a special election earlier this year to Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) in the 19th district. State House Speaker Tom Craddick (R) specifically drew a Midland seat with Conaway in mind.
In the 10th district, which is held by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D), attorney Mike McCaul (R) is expected to run. Doggett has easily held the Austin-based seat since 1994 but Republican redistricters split the state capital into three distinct districts, severely jeopardizing him.
In Rep. Max Sandlin’s 1st district, doctor Lyle Thorstenson (R) announced that he had $215,000 in the bank for the race at the end of September.
The political Web site Quorum Report was reporting Monday that state Rep. Arlene Wohlegemuth (R) was preparing to run in the newly drawn 17th district, a contest that would put her in a likely matchup with Rep. Chet Edwards (D), the incumbent in the current 11th district. Edwards has said he will run for re-election regardless of how the district lines are drawn.
— Chris Cillizza
Mayor Expected to Take on McCarthy in Dist. 4
James Garner (R), president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is expected to announce his intention to challenge Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D) next month.
Garner, mayor of Hempstead, has been encouraged by local and national Republican leaders to enter the race for the 4th district seat, which covers southwest Nassau County on Long Island.
“I certainly plan on making an announcement in November,” the 58-year-old mayor told The Associated Press last week.
Although 60 percent of the district’s residents voted for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, McCarthy has never racked up huge majorities since knocking off then-Rep. Dan Frisa (R) in 1996. Republicans believe Garner, who is black, could run well in the district with the largest minority population of Long Island’s four House districts.
— Josh Kurtz
Wilson: ‘Not Likely’ to Challenge Sen. Boxer
Former Gov. Pete Wilson (R) said last week that it is “not likely” that he’ll run for the Senate in 2004.
In a brief interview, Wilson, who served eight years in the Senate before being elected governor in 1990, said the GOP race to defeat two-term Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) is “hard to handicap” because there are several potential candidates still thinking about entering the race.
“It’s not clear what the picture is,” Wilson said. “There are others who are thinking about it.”
One of those who may be thinking about it is comedian Dennis Miller, according to various published reports. But Miller’s publicist, Jeff Abraham, told Roll Call late last week that Miller would have nothing to say about the Senate race for now. And he denied reports that Miller had sought out consultants to discuss the election.
“The rumors seem to sort of have a life of their own,” he said.
So far, former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey and Assemblyman Tony Strickland are the Republicans who have formally entered the Senate contest. Former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin (R) has set up an exploratory committee and is expected to join the race soon. Former California Secretary of State Bill Jones (R) is also weighing a run.
A Field Poll released last week saw Boxer beating all of her potential Republican challengers fairly handily. Jones came the closest, finishing 14 points behind.
Ryun May Have Serious Challenge From Boyda
A pharmaceutical researcher is aiming to give Rep. Jim Ryun (R) his first serious challenge since he won the 2nd district in a 1996 open-seat race.
Nancy Boyda (D) is expected to formally announce her campaign in early November. It will be her first bid for elected office after spending many years in the pharmaceutical industry. She is now involved in a pharmaceutical start-up company.
The district would have given George W. Bush only 54 percent in 2000 — just 1 point better than Rep. Dennis Moore’s (D) 3rd — and Democratic Rep. Jim Slattery held it from 1982 until an ill-fated gubernatorial run in 1994.
Ryun is among the most conservative- voting Members of the House, and Democrats argue, that record puts him out of step with the district. But in the past three cycles, they have been unable to field a top-tier candidate, and Ryun has never dipped below 60 percent of the vote.
Baker Hopes Political Fortunes Rise in Dist. 2
After running a write-in candidacy against Rep. Vic Snyder (D) in 2002, bakery owner Ed Garner has decided to run again, this time as a Republican.
Garner pointed out that he received 11,000 votes during his 2002 effort (Snyder received 143,000), a solid building block, he contends, for his next race.
Garner is the owner of Mama’s Manna, a bakery in Little Rock. He furnished a reception announcing his candidacy with cheesecakes from the shop.
State Rep. Marvin Parks — seen as the strongest potential Republican candidate — is also exploring the race.
Snyder is a political anomaly in Congress, a maverick who raises no money in the year before elections, a stance that makes him a perennial Republican target.
True to form, Snyder raised nothing between July 1 and Sept. 30, and ended the month with just more than $2,000 on hand.
The Little Rock-based 2nd district is competitive for both parties, with George W. Bush having won a 49 percent to 48 percent victory there in 2000.
College Dean Joins Race For Gephardt’s Seat
An associate dean at Washington University in St. Louis became the latest Democratic candidate to enter the contest for Rep. Richard Gephardt’s (D) open seat.
Mark Smith announced his candidacy simultaneously with filing his first financial report with the Federal Election Commission. He raised $53,000 from July 1 to Sept. 30 and banked $51,000.
State Sen. Steve Stoll (D) led all 3rd district Democrats in fundraising for the quarter, bringing in $130,000 and retaining $117,000.
State Rep. Russ Carnahan (D), son of late Gov. Mel Carnahan (D) and former Sen. Jean Carnahan (D), raised $85,000 in the past three months and had $144,000 on hand. Fellow state Rep. Joan Barry (D) took in $33,000 and ended September with $41,000 in the bank.
Gephardt is leaving the solidly Democratic St. Louis County seat after 14 terms to pursue his party’s presidential nomination for the second time.