Westmoreland Gets ACU Endorsement in Ga.
As the candidates vying to succeed Rep. Mac Collins in the open 8th district race are pulling out all the stops to out-conservative one another, this week state Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R) scored the endorsement of the American Conservative Union, the country’s oldest and largest conservative grassroots lobbying organization.
“In his 12 years in the Georgia State House — with four as the House Republican Leader — Lynn Westmoreland has proved to be a staunch and reliable conservative ally,” ACU Executive Director Richard Lessner said in a statement Westmoreland’s campaign released.
Among Westmoreland’s other backers are Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) and the conservative, anti-tax group the Club for Growth.
Dylan Glenn, a one-time aide to Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) who served in both Bush administrations, and state Sen. Mike Crotts are also vying for the 8th district GOP nod. Collins is running for Senate.
Glenn has the support of former Rep. Bob Barr (R), Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) and former National Economic Council Chairman Larry Lindsey.
— Lauren. W. Whittington
Fletcher Makes Way for Cooksey Comeback Bid
Former Congressional aide and 2002 Republican nominee Lee Fletcher has taken himself out of contention as a challenger to freshman Rep. Rodney Alexander (D) in the 5th district.
In the process, he threw his support to former Rep. John Cooksey (R), for whom he served as chief of staff for several years.
“Dr. John Cooksey is definitely the best candidate and can win if he runs,” Fletcher told the Monroe News Star. “I will just keep my powder dry for now.”
Cooksey held the northern Louisiana seat from 1996 until 2002, when he embarked on an ill-fated Senate bid. Cooksey received 14 percent in that contest.
He is expected to run for his old seat, according to knowledgeable Republican sources. State Sen. Robert Barham is also mentioned as a Republican candidate.
Alexander, one of the most conservative of the House Democrats, nearly switched parties recently before deciding to remain a Democrat.
Despite running a solid re-election effort to this point, he remains vulnerable given the district’s distinct Republican lean.
— Chris Cillizza
District 7 Race Gets Its First Black Candidate
Black state Sen. Don Cravins (D) entered the open 7th district race Monday, becoming the fifth candidate seeking to replace Rep. Chris John (D).
Cravins has served in the state Senate for the past 12 years representing the Lafayette area in the district’s far eastern reaches.
He joins state Sen. Willie Mount and former state Appeals Court Judge Ned Doucet in the race on the Democratic side; surgeon Charles Boustany and 1996 nominee David Thibodeaux are running as Republicans. The district’s population is one-quarter black.
Under Louisiana law, all of the candidates will run in a Nov. 2 open primary. If no one receives 50 percent of the vote, the two top votegetters regardless of party advance to a Dec. 4 runoff.
The 7th district seat is one of a handful of competitive open seats in the 2004 election.
President Bush won 55 percent there in 2000 but a number of notable Democrats have held the seat, including former Gov. Edwin Edwards and Sen. John Breaux.
John has been re-elected easily since winning the open seat in 1996. He is leaving the southwestern Louisiana district to run for the seat of Breaux, who is retiring.
Cuellar Declares Victory; Rodriguez Sees Fraud
Former Texas Secretary of State Henry Cuellar (D) declared victory in his primary race against Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) in the 28th district even as the Congressman’s legal team pursued action to contest the result.
“I am honored that the voters of the 28th Congressional District have chosen me to carry the Democratic banner in November’s general election,” Cuellar said in a news release.
A final recount of all 11 counties in the South Texas seat turned Cuellar’s 145-vote margin of defeat in the March 9 primary to a 203-vote margin of victory.
Hundreds of ballots previously unaccounted for were found in Webb and Zapata counties — Cuellar’s base — during the recount process.
Rodriguez has alleged the new votes represent potential voter fraud and tampering. As a result, he has not conceded to Cuellar.
Whoever is the ultimate Democratic nominee will have a decided advantage in November.
Nearly two-thirds of the district’s voting-age population is Hispanic, and then-Vice President Al Gore won an 18-point victory in the district in 2000.
Jim Hopson and Francisco Canseco will face off April 13 in a runoff to decide the Republican nomination.
Porter’s Challenger Goes Ka-Ching in Early Days
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is giddy about political newcomer Tom Gallagher’s fundraising prowess.
The former gaming executive says he will show more than $420,000 in cash on hand in his April 15 Federal Election Commission filing.
“In less than two weeks, Tom Gallagher has demonstrated the campaign in Nevada’s 3rd district will be extremely competitive,” DCCC Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.) said in a statement. “Tom is a tremendous fit for this district and there is no question his campaign will have the resources necessary to hold Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) accountable for failing to represent the interests of families across Clark County.”
Gallagher, who was chief executive of Park Place Entertainment, which is now Caesars Entertainment, loaned his campaign $200,000 but has still raised at least $225,000 in 13 days, according to his campaign.
Porter began the year with almost $500,000 in the bank.
Just a few weeks ago things looked bleak for the Democrats in the 3rd, but Gallagher’s entry into the campaign against the freshman Congressman has vaulted the seat into the list of hotly contested races.
— Nicole Duran