In Ky., Clooney Has Big Lead in Rival Camp’s Polls

Posted March 24, 2004 at 6:12pm

Two polls conducted in the open-seat race for Kentucky’s 4th district show former television anchor Nick Clooney (D) with a double-digit lead over 2002 Republican nominee Geoff Davis.

Clooney received 46 percent to Davis’ 31 percent in a Cooper & Secrest Associates survey of 504 likely general election voters done for the Democrat’s campaign.

The poll was in the field Feb. 17-19 and had a 4.4 percent margin of error. The campaign just released the results this week.

In a Tarrance Group poll done for Davis, Clooney led 52 percent to 36 percent.

That survey tested 301 voters Feb. 23-25. It had a 5.8 percent margin of error.

Clooney’s lead at this point is likely attributable to a name-identification edge born from his years as a television anchor in the Cincinnati media market, which covers a large swath of the district. His family ties to actor George Clooney (his son) and singer Rosemary Clooney (his late sister) also likely help boost his name recognition.

Davis ran a low-profile campaign in 2002 against Rep. Ken Lucas (D), taking 48 percent of the vote. The 4th district seat is considered one of the most difficult open-seat holds in the country for Democrats.

Lucas is retiring after three terms, and the demographics of the Northern Kentucky seat favor Republicans. Democrats believe Clooney’s semi-celebrity status coupled with his extraordinary fundraising prowess will keep him competitive with Davis, the GOP frontrunner.

— Chris Cillizza

FLORIDA
Young But Not Restless: Member Likely to Stay

Rep. Bill Young (R) has apparently decided to stick around for at least one more term, even as he will be forced to relinquish the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee at the end of this Congress.

“I think I’m going to stay,” Young said in a brief interview this week.

It is widely expected that Young will move to chair the Appropriations subcommittee on Defense, a panel he has chaired previously, in the 109th Congress.

Democrats had been salivating at the prospect that Young might retire at the end of this Congress, thus creating an open-seat race in a presidential year. His St. Petersburg-based 10th district voted 51 percent for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, and a vigorous race is expected when he does retire.
— Lauren W. Whittington

COLORADO
Schaffer Trails Salazar By 11 Points in Own Poll

Former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) released a poll Wednesday showing him 11 points behind state Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) in the race for Colorado’s open Senate seat.

Salazar took 43 percent to Schaffer’s 32 percent in the McLaughlin and Associates poll. It was in the field March 15-16 testing 500 likely voters. The poll carried a 4.5 percent margin of error.

The poll argues that Salazar’s lead is largely attributable to his statewide name-identification advantage but that when voters know both Salazar and Schaffer they trend toward the Republican. As evidence, Schaffer leads Salazar 46 percent to 33 percent in the 4th district, which he represented from 1996 until 2002.
— C.C.

LOUISIANA
Fletcher Prepares but Would Defer to Coosey

After a near-miss run in 2002, former Hill aide Lee Fletcher (R) has formed an exploratory committee to raise money for a challenge to freshman Rep. Rodney Alexander (D).

“It has become obvious that our district needs more effective leadership in Washington,” said Fletcher in a news release.

He expects to make a final decision on the contest in the next 30 days.

Fletcher’s announcement comes as most national Republicans continue to await a decision by former Rep. John Cooksey (R) on the race. Fletcher is a former chief of staff for Cooksey but said his plans to start an exploratory committee should not be seen as a signal that the Congressman has decided not to run.

“His decision is coming,” said Fletcher, adding that he and Cooksey had dinner on Tuesday and talk every other day. Fletcher said that he would not run against Cooksey.

As for his own decision to raise money, Fletcher said it was sparked by Alexander’s recent flirtation with a party switch. Alexander’s northern Louisiana 5th district is one of the most conservative seats in the country held by a Democrat. President Bush received 57 percent of the vote there in 2000.

In polling done in January for Alexander’s campaign, he held a 52 percent to 36 percent lead over Cooksey and a 63 percent to 22 percent edge over Fletcher.
— C.C.

SOUTH CAROLINA
DeMint Begins TV Blitz in All 7 Media Markets

Rep. Jim DeMint (R) became the first candidate on the air in the South Carolina Senate race Wednesday with an ad introducing himself to voters as a “respected conservative leader.”

The ad touts DeMint’s 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee, his support for the troops in the war on terror, and opposition to excessive government spending.

“Businessman. Family man. Securing our future, making us proud,” is the ad’s tagline.

It was produced by Scott Howell.

Although DeMint’s campaign would not specify the exact dollar amount of the media buy, it is running in all seven of the state’s media markets. DeMint is expected to stay on the air through the June 8 primary.

Conventional wisdom dictates that DeMint, former state Attorney General Charlie Condon and wealthy real estate developer Thomas Ravenel are all competing for a chance to challenge former Gov. David Beasley in a GOP runoff. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the two top votegetters advance to a June 22 runoff.

Democrats have coalesced behind state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum, who faces nominal primary opposition.
— C.C.

PENNSYLVANIA
Democrats Are Polls Apart in 13th District

A new poll released by state Sen. Allyson Schwartz (D) showed her well ahead of primary opponent Joe Torsella in the race to succeed Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) in the 13th district. It also showed most voters are undecided with the election a little more than a month away.

The poll, conducted March 21-22 by the Global Strategy Group for Schwartz’s campaign, found her leading Torsella 29 percent to 13 percent, with 37 percent of those surveyed still undecided. The survey polled 400 likely Democratic primary voters and had a 5 percent margin of error.

Schwartz’s campaign launched its first television ads this week. Torsella’s campaign, meanwhile, has also been on the air and last week released its own polling that showed the race to be a virtual dead heat. The primary is April 27.
— L.W.W.

WISCONSIN
State Senator Opts Out of Crowded Dist. 4 Race

State Sen. Spencer Coggs (D) has opted not to seek the open 4th district seat in the Badger State after all.

Numerous Democrats within the Milwaukee-based district initially salivated at the prospect of running for a safely Democratic seat when longtime Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D) surprised voters and pols alike in announcing he would not seek a 12th term.

So far four Democrats, one Republican and one Green Party candidate have thrown their hats in the ring, including state Sens. Tim Carpenter and Gwen Moore (D), state Rep. Shirley Krug and former Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Matt Flynn.

Coggs just won his state Senate seat last fall in a special election and may have decided it was too soon to run. Furthermore, he may have been concerned about splitting a key voting block with Moore as black voters comprise one-third of the district. Coggs and Moore are black.

The filing deadline for the Sept. 14 primary is July 13.
— Nicole Duran