NEW JERSEY: Ferguson May Be Next Mission for Reservist
As national Democrats look to expand the playing field of competitive races next year, they are increasingly hopeful that Marine reservist Steven Brosak will challenge 7th district Rep. Mike Ferguson (R) in 2004.
Brosak opened an exploratory committee in late November after leaving active military duty, and he hopes to make a final decision about running by early January.
“I’ve been delighted by the response so far,” Brosak said Friday.
Brosak, a lieutenant colonel who was recalled to active duty a little more than a year ago, was mostly stationed in Arlington, Va., although he spent some time in Kuwait and southern Afghanistan during the Iraq war.
In addition to his military service, Brosak has also worked on Wall Street and currently runs a small investment bank.
Brosak has never before sought elected office, and he described himself as a 20-year Republican who recently abandoned the party after what transpired during Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2000 presidential run and the defeat of Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), a Vietnam veteran, last year.
“The party really moved away from my core beliefs,” he said.
After being first elected with just 52 percent in 2000, Ferguson was not a top target for Democrats last year and was re-elected with 58 percent of the vote.
His swing district voted only narrowly for Republican George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, and Ferguson, who attracted some unwanted press earlier this year, could see another competitive race if he’s targeted.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Web Site Targets Faux Conservatives, Bartlett
George Rasley, a veteran Republican operative, put out the word last week that he had created a new Web site to, in his words, “expose” GOP Members of Congress who aren’t as conservative as they make themselves out to be. So far the site, www.honestyincongress.com, features just one offender: Six-term Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R).
Why Bartlett? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Rasley is a top campaign strategist for Bartlett’s challenger in the March 2004 GOP primary, Frederick County States Attorney Scott Rolle (R).
“It’s obviously a front for the Rolle campaign,” complained Jim Dornan, a consultant working for Bartlett.
Not so, insisted Rasley, who said he would likely add other Members to the list early next year.
“It just so happens that I have extensive research on Bartlett’s record,” said Rasley, who called Bartlett “clearly among the worst, if not the worst” faux conservative.
The Web site cites Bartlett’s votes on authorizing force in Iraq last year as its main proof — and helpfully provides the Rolle campaign address for those outraged enough to contribute.
“It’s another attempt by the Rolle folks to distort Roscoe’s record,” Dornan said.
For the record, Bartlett’s rating by the American Conservative Union in 2002 was 96.
— Josh Kurtz
NRCC Plays a Card in Upcoming Dist. 6 Special
In its ongoing efforts to keep Kentucky’s 6th district in GOP hands, the National Republican Congressional Committee will hold a fundraiser Thursday featuring White House Chief of Staff Andy Card.
The nominee was scheduled to be selected Saturday after Roll Call went to press by the state’s Republican executive committee, with state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr the most likely candidate. State Reps. Lonnie Napier and Stan Lee also were seeking the nomination.
The money raised at the event will go directly to the candidate. The NRCC also has formed a group known as the Kentucky-6 General Election Committee that has been raising money for the eventual nominee, but committee officials would not provide a fundraising estimate at press time.
Outgoing state Attorney General Ben Chandler (D), who lost the governor’s race last month by 10 points, announced Thursday that he would seek his party’s nomination. Democrats are expected to select Chandler as their official nominee today.
The special election will be held Feb. 17. It was triggered by three-term Rep. Ernie Fletcher’s (R) gubernatorial victory last month.
— Chris Cillizza
Boxer Staffing Up While Kaloogian Gets Blessing
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) last week announced the top management team for her re-election campaign. Leading the Boxer campaign will be Rose Kapolczynski as campaign manager, Katie Merrill as deputy campaign manager and senior adviser, and Sheila Creal as finance director. All three are veterans of Boxer’s previous campaigns.
Kapolczynski managed both Boxer’s 1992 election to the Senate and her 1998 re-election campaign. She also served as state director for Boxer’s Senate offices.
Merrill started as a field organizer on the 1992 Boxer campaign, went on to manage the successful 1996 campaign of Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) and served as Tauscher’s chief of staff. Most recently Merrill consulted for the National Venture Capital Association and the Democratic Leadership Council.
Creal, who has served as a consultant to the Clinton-Gore campaigns and the Democratic National Committee, also worked on the successful after-school initiative promoted by now-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in 2002.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, who jumped into the Senate race just hours before the Dec. 5 filing deadline, solidified his stature as the leading conservative in the field last week when he picked up the endorsement of state Sen. Tom McClintock (R), who ran a respectable third in the recent recall election.
According to The Associated Press, McClintock called Kaloogian, who was chairman of the Recall Gray Davis Committee, “one of the most principled, courageous and steadfast leaders in our state.”
Kaloogian’s 11th-hour entry into the Senate race was something of a surprise. But there was something of a conservative void in the Republican field after Assemblyman Tony Strickland (R) dropped out in the final hours before the filing deadline.
Strickland left the GOP race when former Secretary of State Bill Jones jumped in it. Jones, the last Republican to be elected statewide before Schwarzenegger won the Oct. 7 recall election, is the nominal frontrunner in a Republican Senate field that includes former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin and former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey.
Kaloogian, who lives in northern San Diego County, has spoken openly of his interest in running for Congress some day, and has been mentioned for the seats of Reps. Darrell Issa (R) or Duke Cunningham (R) when either of them moves on. He recently launched a Web site, www.defendreagan.org, after word of the controversial TV miniseries on former President Ronald Reagan (R) became public.
Members Back Lungren, Matsui Hopeful in 3rd
Former state Attorney General Dan Lungren (R) continues to pile up endorsements from Members of Congress in the primary to succeed retiring Rep. Doug Ose (R).
In the past several days, Lungren, who served in Congress from 1978 to 1988, picked up support from House Financial Services Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio), House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). Several other Members have already weighed in on his behalf.
Lungren is in a tough three-way primary with Ose’s sister, businesswoman Mary Ose, and state Sen. Rico Oller.
In related news, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.) said last week that Democrats hope to compete in the Sacramento area district — which adjoins Matsui’s.
“With the Republicans in a potentially bloody primary, that could make this a competitive seat for Democrats,” he said, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The Democratic candidates are financial services adviser Gabe Castillo and former Folsom Mayor Robert Holderness. The Republican-leaning district would have given President Bush 55 percent of the vote in 2000, but the Democratic House candidates believe they are conservative enough to win there.
GOP Touts Professor for Race With Rep. Peterson
A Marshall city councilman wants to take on seven-term Rep. Collin Peterson (D) in “Lake Wobegon” — Garrison Keillor has said areas in the rural 7th were the inspiration for the fictional Lake Wobegon that he brings to National Public Radio listeners weekly.
David Sturrock (R), a political science professor at Southwest Minnesota State University, is expected to enter the race, according to Bo Harmon, deputy communications director with the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Sturrock told the Marshall Independent: “I wouldn’t expect an announcement until early next year.”
Harmon said: “He has spoken with us, he has spoken with party officials in Minnesota.” He’s a smart guy who … has the potential to be very competitive.” Harmon noted Peterson hasn’t faced a serious challenger in several cycles.
In a district that went for President Bush in 2000, Peterson won re-election last year with 65 percent of the vote.
Traditionally the 7th has been a marginal district, but local GOP officials say it’s becoming more Republican. Peterson has fortified himself in a district infamous for bucking incumbents by sounding populist notes, staking out socially conservative positions and siding with outdoorsmen on environmental matters.
Peterson defeated veteran Rep. Arlen Stangeland (R) to win the seat in 1990 after previously losing to him twice.
Local GOP pols believe money will be an issue, saying Peterson is a lackluster fundraiser.
Through Sept. 30, he had $160,033 on hand. Harmon said the NRCC won’t decide which races to pump money into until next year.
— Nicole Duran
Despite Investigation, Ballance to Run Again
Freshman Rep. Frank Ballance (D) has vowed to seek re-election, despite an ongoing grand jury investigation into a foundation that Ballance has ties to.
“If people came to me and said ‘Frank Ballance, we think your time is up, you ought to step aside,’ I’m going to listen to those people,” Ballance told a Raleigh TV station last week, according to The Associated Press. “But nobody so far has come to me with that.”
A federal grand jury has been examining the John A. Hyman Foundation, which ran a drug and alcohol counseling program in northeastern North Carolina, after a state audit released in October revealed that the foundation had numerous conflicts of interest and had made $325,000 in questionable payments. Ballance, who helped steer money to the foundation when he served in the state Legislature, has not been subpoenaed in the investigation.
According to state officials, the FBI also has been looking into the foundation’s dealings.
Club for Growth Sides With Ryan in Primary
The Club for Growth, the conservative anti-tax group which has taken an increasingly active role in GOP primaries in the past two cycles, announced its endorsement of Senate candidate Jack Ryan (R) last week.
Ryan, an investment banker turned teacher, is among the leading candidates in a crowded GOP primary.
In a statement, Club for Growth President Stephen Moore said the group would eventually support whoever wins the March 16, 2004, primary and that there are several outstanding candidates in the field.
The state’s filing period closes today. As of Thursday, a total of 11 candidates had filed in the Senate race, five Democrats and six Republicans.
Reynolds: The People Want Me Back in 2004
Former Rep. Mel Reynolds (D) is set to file petitions today that will formalize his primary bid against Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) in the 2nd district.
Reynolds held a news conference Thursday to showcase the more than 25,000 signatures he gathered in order to guarantee his place on the March 16 primary ballot. A minimum of only 1,090 signatures was required, he said.
Reynolds charges that Jackson has been unresponsive to constituent needs, and he warned the media against taking his candidacy too lightly.
“The campaign is alive and well,” Reynolds said in an interview last week. “The press is going to miss what’s going on in this district. … They believe that he’s really not that vulnerable.”
Jackson was elected to the South Side Chicago seat to replace Reynolds in a 1995 special election. Reynolds, whose prison sentence was later commuted by a last-minute pardon from then-President Bill Clinton, resigned after being convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor.
NASCAR Celebrities Stumping for Triplett
Former NASCAR executive and Republican hopeful Kevin Triplett received some high-powered support for his bid against Rep. Rick Boucher (D) last week, when a trio of the organization’s big names visited the district on his behalf.
NASCAR President Mike Helton, a native of the southwestern Virginia district, and drivers Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton appeared at an Abingdon event to endorse Triplett, who left a management job at NASCAR and returned to the district in June.
Triplett also recently launched a NASCAR-styled grassroots fundraising effort, dubbed the “Over the Wall Gang.” For $10, donors can become a member of the team and received regular e-mail updates on the campaign.
Donors can become Over the Wall Gang “crew chiefs” — and receive an autographed photo of a NASCAR driver — if they sign up at least 10 new members. If a donor signs up at least 15 new members they become a “team owner” and are then entered into a monthly prize drawing. Among the prizes offered is a used race-car tire autographed by drivers Kyle and Richard Petty.
Boucher has not faced a serious challenge in two decades, and Triplett notes that in his first quarter of fundraising he raised more than the Congressman’s previous two GOP challengers combined.
Radio Personality Ready For Frank Discussion
Veteran Rep. Barney Frank (D) has drawn a former conservative talk radio host as his general election challenger.
Chuck Morse (R), owner of an advertising distribution company and a former radio personality on Boston’s WROL, is taking a leave of absence from the show to battle Frank.
Morse, the father of a 4-year-old, said he decided to enter the race after Frank voted against AMBER Alert legislation, which was introduced after a 9-year-old girl in Texas was abducted and murdered.
Frank opposed unrelated provisions in the bill.
Morse, who officially announced his candidacy at a New Bedford diner on Halloween, faces an uphill battle.
Frank was unopposed in 2002 and won with 75 percent in 2000. He was first elected in 1980.
The 4th went for Al Gore 73 percent to 19 percent in the 2000 presidential election.
GOP Adding Cooks to the Succession Kitchen
As rumors persist that Rep. Scott McInnis (R), who has already announced his intention to retire in 2004, could resign before his term ends, Colorado Republicans have tweaked the way they would select their nominee in a special election to replace him.
Originally, party leaders said the nominee would be chosen by an 11-member vacancy committee in McInnis’ 3rd district, which covers the western half of the state.
Because the district was so big, several counties would have been without representation on the vacancy committee. What’s more, the wife of one of the half-dozen GOP candidates running in the regular primary to replace McInnis, state Rep. Matt Smith (R), serves on the vacancy committee, prompting several people to complain that Smith — who is McInnis’ brother-in-law — would have an unfair advantage.
But earlier this month, state GOP leaders said they misinterpreted party by-laws. The vacancy committee, they determined, only has to meet when a nominee for Congress dies or drops out of the race. Instead, the 90-strong 3rd district Republican committee would select the nominee for a special election if McInnis retires early.
The full Democratic committee for the 3rd, which has about 75 members, would also choose a nominee for the special election.
Democrats Are Seeking Consensus in 7th District
Two of the likely Democratic candidates in the race to take on freshman Rep. Bob Beauprez (R) met last week, as Democratic leaders hope to avoid an expensive and divisive primary, The Denver Post reported.
Neither Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas (D), who has already declared his candidacy, nor former state Sen. Ed Perlmutter (D), who has promised a quick decision on the 2004 race, agreed to defer to the other, however. John Works (D), a businessman and political neophyte who is also expected to run, was not involved in the discussions.
Democrats believe they can defeat Beauprez if they remain unified. Beauprez was elected by just 121 votes over then-state Sen. Mike Feeley (D).
Feeley defeated Thomas in the 2002 primary. Thomas has also lost a Congressional primary in the adjoining 2nd district.
Before the 2002 election, Perlmutter was considered the strongest potential Democratic candidate, and he surprised most political observers by choosing not to run. Democrats in the state Legislature had in fact drawn the 7th district with Perlmutter in mind.
Bishop Gets First Official Challenger
Freshman Rep. Tim Bishop (D) got his first official challenger earlier this month.
Former Southampton Village Trustee William Manger (R) announced that he would seek to take back the district that the GOP has held for most of the past decade.
“The 1st Congressional district deserves to be represented by someone who is in step with their convictions,” said Manger, who spent two terms in the local government and has also worked for the U.S. Transportation Department under President Bush.
National Republican officials have been urging Brookhaven Town Supervisor John Jay LaValle (R) to enter the race, but he does not seem inclined to run. LaValle, who just came off a bruising campaign for re-election, noted that he is just 36, and said he is getting married in the spring. He promised an answer by the end of the year.
Assemblywoman Patricia Acampora (R) has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Long Island seat.
Shifting Sand Unlikely as GOP Puzzles Over Races
Former naval officer Duane Sand (R) said last week that despite receiving numerous calls to run for the House he will stay in the 2004 Senate race unless former Gov. Ed Schafer (R) changes his mind about running for Senate.
“If I could talk Governor Schafer into running for the Senate, I’d gladly run for Congress,” Sand said in a statement. “Otherwise I’m committed to taking on Byron Dorgan and his liberal friends in Washington.”
Sand ran in 2000 against Sen. Kent Conrad (D), taking just 38 percent while being outspent at a better than two to one clip.
Schafer, who served as the state’s top elected official from 1992 to 2000, rejected repeated pleas from the Bush administration as well as the National Republican Senatorial Committee to challenge Dorgan. He is not likely to reconsider that decision.
Tax Commissioner Rick Clayburgh (R) was expected to challenge Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) but bowed out of the race last week. Republicans have no obvious replacement for him.
Prescott’s Departure Boosts Babbitt in Dist. 1
Just five months after announcing her candidacy, attorney Diane Prescott (D) dropped her challenge to Rep. Rick Renzi (R).
Prescott’s decision brings state and national Democrats one step closer to clearing the field for former Flagstaff Mayor Paul Babbitt (D).
The only remaining obstacle is venture capitalist George Cordova, who was the surprise Democratic nominee last cycle. Cordova is not expected to run again but has not taken himself officially out of contention.
Renzi is seen as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House. He won the sprawling 1st district, which takes in much of the northeastern portion of the state and was created during the 2001 redistricting process, 49 percent to 46 percent over Cordova last year.
Cordova did not run a well-financed campaign and was buffeted by negative issue ads sponsored by the National Republican Congressional Committee about his past business practices.Renzi spent heavily from his own pocket but irked some at the NRCC when he blamed their involvement for the closeness of the contest.
Babbitt is a relative political unknown but carries a famous last name as the brother of former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt (D), who served as Interior secretary during the Clinton administration.Babbitt has the backing of Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), who won the district by 7 points in 2002.