At the Races

Posted April 26, 2004 at 4:41pm

MICHIGAN
Right to Life Committee Backs Bisbee in Primary

State Rep. Clark Bisbee (R) snagged one of the most sought-after endorsements in the upcoming GOP primary for the open 7th district seat.

Despite the presence in the race of five candidates who oppose abortion rights, the Michigan Right to Life political action committee elected to back only Bisbee on Monday.

“Right to Life is a true force in our state’s political arena and I am especially proud to receive their endorsement,” Bisbee said.

The five candidates — Bisbee; attorney Brad Smith, son of the retiring Congressman, Nick Smith (R); state Rep. Gene DeRossett; and former state Reps. Tim Walberg and Paul DeWeese — have all attempted to position themselves as the anti-abortion conservative alternative to the sixth GOP candidate in the field, former state Sen. Joe Schwarz, a moderate Republican who leads in most polls.

Demonstrating how volatile the race is, a poll released on the heels of another one last week put DeWeese on top of the heap.

In the earlier poll, released two days prior by EPIC/MRA of Lansing, DeWeese finished last out of the six Republicans.

The new poll, conducted by the Marketing Resource Group of Lansing, was paid for by DeWeese’s campaign.

His poll showed him with 18 percent support, followed by Schwarz, Smith and Walberg who each garnered 15 percent, then DeRossett with 10 percent and Bisbee with 7 percent.

The independent EPIC/MRA poll showed Schwarz on top followed by DeRossett.

Other candidates have also received major endorsements.

Smith is backed by the well-heeled Club for Growth, while DeWeese is supported by Black America’s Political Action Committee, even though he is white.

Schwarz has been endorsed by the Republican Main Street Partnership PAC, and DeWeese picked up the Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of Michigan endorsement.
— Nicole Duran

TEXAS
Stenholm Poll Shows He Leads Neugebauer

Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D) held a 4-point lead over Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) in a recent survey for the Democrat’s campaign.

Stenholm received 48 percent to 44 percent for Neugebauer in the poll, which was conducted by Decision Research from April 5 to 8. It tested 800 likely voters with a 3.5 percent margin of error.

Stenholm, who has held a West Texas Congressional seat since 1978, is slightly better known (83 percent) by voters than Neugebauer (76 percent). The Republican won a June 2003 special election to replace Rep. Larry Combest (R) in the 19th district.

Both men have solid favorable to unfavorable ratings.

The Stenholm poll affirms the heavy Republican tilt of the district as President Bush led Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) 67 percent to 28 percent.

“While the district leans Republican and is a Bush stronghold, voters applaud Stenholm’s independence and appreciate his record of service to West Texas farmers and families,” wrote pollster Bob Meadow.

That poll stands in direct contrast with a Public Opinion Strategies survey conducted in late January for the National Republican Congressional Committee that showed Neugebauer with a 49 percent to 38 percent lead.

Stenholm and Neugebauer were thrown into a district that stretches east to west from Abilene to Lubbock by Republican state legislators, who redrew the map in late 2003.

In the Dallas area, Reps. Martin Frost (D) and Pete Sessions (R) will face off against one another in the fall, in another contest forced by redistricting.
— Chris Cillizza

ALASKA
Conservatives Unlikely to Fracture in Primary

Former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin (R), who toyed with the idea of entering the GOP Senate primary, decided over the weekend to back former state Senate President Mike Miller (R) in the Senate race.

Miller quit his state job — to which he was appointed by Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) — to enter the primary against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), daughter of Frank, earlier this month.

Palin told the Anchorage Daily News that her young family was a deciding factor.

“How could I be the team mom if I was a U.S. Senator?” the former state oil and gas commissioner said.

Palin’s decision means opposition to Murkowski is unlikely to be fractured in the GOP primary.
— N.D.

COLORADO
Ex-Mayor Considers Rematch With Udall

Former Boulder Mayor Bob Greenlee (R) said last week he is reconsidering a challenge to Rep. Mark Udall (D) at the behest of party leaders.

“A lot of people whom I respect have asked me to look at it again,” he told The Denver Post.

Greenlee ran for the Boulder-based 2nd district in 1998 when Rep. David Skaggs (D) retired.

He spent more than $1 million of his own money on the race but came up just short against Udall — 50 percent to 47 percent — in this Democratic-leaning district.

Udall has since been re-elected twice with relative ease. Many Republicans see the moderate Greenlee, who spent 16 years on the Boulder City Council and was selected by his colleagues to serve a stint as mayor, as the only GOPer that could win this seat.

Udall is running for a fourth term after briefly entering then exiting the open-seat Senate race. Less than 24 hours after announcing his candidacy, he dropped from the race in deference to state Attorney General Ken Salazar (D).

He ended March with $582,000 on hand.
— C.C.

CALIFORNIA
Boxer Has 20-Point Lead Over Jones in Poll

Two-term Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) has a substantial lead over former California Secretary of State Bill Jones (R), a Los Angeles Times poll has found.

In the poll taken April 17-21, Boxer was preferred by 54 percent of the respondents, and Jones was the choice of 34 percent. The poll of 1,571 Californians had a 3 percent margin of error.

Despite two terms as secretary of state, a long career in the Legislature and an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2002, the poll found that Jones is not very well known by the voters. Sixty-one percent of the poll respondents said they did not know enough about him to form a strong opinion, the newspaper said.

Boxer, on the other hand, carried a 57 percent approval rating. Usually, the state’s senior Senator, Dianne Feinstein (D), has far greater favorable ratings than Boxer, but this time the two were close. Feinstein’s favorables in the poll were at 63 percent.
— Josh Kurtz

FEC Closes Door on 1998 House Race Fraud Case

The Federal Election Commission has closed the door on its investigation of one of the more bizarre incidents of the 1998 Congressional elections.

Last week the FEC fined former Congressional candidate Charles Ball (R) $24,000, and his campaign manager, Adrian Plesha, $60,000, for their part in a fraudulent mailing they sent to voters in the final days of Ball’s challenge to Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D).

According to the FEC, Plesha arranged to send out mailings and telephone calls to district voters from a nonexistent organization known as the East Bay Democratic Committee. The letters featured a fraudulent signature from Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) urging them not to vote for Tauscher.

A U.S. District judge has fined Plesha $5,000 and sentenced him to three years’ probation for lying to the FEC. Plesha, who once worked for Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), now works in the private sector.
— J.K.

LOUISIANA
Roemer Now Unlikely to Run for the Senate

Former Gov. Buddy Roemer (R) cast doubt on his potential Senate candidacy Friday, telling the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he doesn’t expect to make the race to replace Sen. John Breaux (D).

“While all things are possible, my expectations are we will continue to build this bank and, if we do, I will be president and CEO,” Roemer said.

Roemer is currently the president of the Baton Rouge Bank, but the company is looking to expand its operations elsewhere in the Pelican State.

Even as Roemer was publicly backing away from the race, black state Sen. Arthur Morrell (D) was seeking to bat down rumors that he would drop from the contest.

Although Morrell did admit that he has had a difficult time raising money, he insisted he is in the race to stay.

Morrell along with Rep. Chris John and state Treasurer John Kennedy are running for the Democratic nomination.

Rep. David Vitter is the only announced Republican in the race.
— C.C.

MONTANA
Candidate Wants Tax Break for Volunteers

Tracy Velazquez (D), who is challenging Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) for the state’s lone House seat, wants to give voters a “homeland volunteer” tax break.

If elected, she would sponsor legislation allowing individuals who donate their time to a non profit group to deduct the value of their time as a charitable donation on their tax returns.

“Serving our fellow Americans here at home is patriotic and our government should give this service the credit it deserves,” she said.

Such a break would help middle-class Americans who may have their time to donate but not the cash to write off on their taxes, she said.
— N.D.

HAWAII
Congressman Makes Case as Foe Gears Up

Rep. Ed Case (D) stressed his seniority in announcing his re-election bid last week, shortly after a Honolulu city councilman entered the race.

Mike Gabbard (R) filed his paperwork earlier this month.

Case was elected in a November 2002 special election to replace the late Rep. Patsy Mink (D).

That extra service will earn him the seniority status of a three-term Congressman if he is elected to a second full term in November.

— N.D.