NEW YORK: Contenders Near Starting Gate in Quinn’s District

Posted April 27, 2004 at 6:15pm

Names of potential successors to Rep. Jack Quinn (R) continued to come out of the woodwork Tuesday — even though candidates themselves had not yet come forward — one day after the six-term Congressman stunned the political world by announcing he would not run again.

But according to knowledgeable sources in Washington, D.C., and New York politics, it is clear that a few candidates are already headed to the starting gate.

Leading the list on the Democratic side is state Assemblyman Brian Higgins, who is considered almost certain to get in and would have broad support among party leaders in both D.C. and Buffalo. Assembly Majority Leader Paul Tokasz (D) is also widely respected but is probably less likely to enter the race because it would put his powerful Albany post at risk.

Several other Democrats have been mentioned as potential candidates, including Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello, Erie County Clerk David Swarts, Chautauqua County Executive Mark Thomas and attorney Peter Crotty.

Masiello, however, is unpopular with rank-and-file Democrats because he has twice endorsed Gov. George Pataki (R) for re-election, and Hoyt is considered unlikely to run because he is gearing up to run for mayor of Buffalo in 2005.

Two Erie County officials head the pack of potential Republican contenders: Sheriff Patrick Gallivan and Comptroller Nancy Naples. But the Congressman’s son, prosecutor Jack Quinn III, is also considering making the race.

Former New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco and deputy Erie County Executive Carl Calabrese have also been mentioned.

Leaders of both parties say they are hoping to avoid divisive primaries so they can focus on winning what is bound to be a competitive general election.

The 27th district is now a prime target for Democrats. Although Quinn has won easily, the district voted for Al Gore over George W. Bush in 2000 by a 53 percent to 41 percent margin.

— Josh Kurtz

MISSOURI
Carnahan Looks Good In His Campaign Poll

State Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) holds a 23-point lead over his closest Democratic competitor in the primary for the open 3rd district, according to a survey conducted for his campaign.

Carnahan received 38 percent to 15 percent for state Sen. Steve Stoll. Former state Rep. Joan Barry took 8 percent and St. Louis Circuit Clerk Mariano Favazza had the backing of 4 percent of those polled.

The poll was conducted by Garin Hart Yang Research Group on April 12 and 13. It sampled 407 likely voters with a 5 percent margin of error.

Much of Carnahan’s lead is attributable to his strong showing in his political base in St. Louis County.

In that area, Carnahan has a 5-to-1 advantage over his nearest competitor, according to the polling memo. Carnahan has held a St. Louis County House seat since 2000

In neighboring Jefferson County, which is Stoll’s political base, Carnahan places second behind the state Senator.

The poll confirms that the race to replace retiring Rep. Richard Gephardt (D) is a two-man affair.

Carnahan’s lead at this point is likely attributable to his famous political last name. His father, Mel, was the state’s governor from 1992 to 2000 and his mother, Jean, was a U.S. Senator from 2000 to 2002. Russ Carnahan’s sister, Robin, is running for Missouri secretary of state.

The district was made more strongly Democratic in redistricting and no serious Republican has filed.


— Chris Cillizza

COLORADO
Poll: Salazar Leads Both GOPers in Senate Race

State Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) held double-digit leads over both his potential Republican opponents for the state’s open Senate seat in a new independent poll.

Salazar led former 4th district Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) 48 percent to 37 percent, while he had a 52 percent to 36 percent edge over brewing magnate Pete Coors.

The survey was conducted by GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies for the Rocky Mountain News. It tested 600 likely voters April 20-24 and carried a 4 percent margin of error.

It is the first poll to include a head-to-head matchup between Salazar and Coors, who entered the race April 13.

The results are likely to further the intrigue in the Republican primary between Schaffer and Coors, which has already featured a number of twists and turns.

Schaffer announced his candidacy shortly after the early March decision by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) not to seek a third term.

Establishment Republicans, concerned that Schaffer was too conservative to beat Salazar in the fall, began a public search for a GOP alternative.

Led by Gov. Bill Owens (R), that search included Reps. Bob Beauprez and Scott McInnis, Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, Re/Max founder Dave Liniger and a litany of others.

Less than 24 hours after Owens appeared to have given up the search and thrown his support to Schaffer, Coors decided to make the race with Owens’ backing.

Schaffer appears committed to remaining in the race, and his campaign has repeatedly said that his experience in the state Legislature and U.S. House make him a more potent general election candidate than the political novice Coors.

This poll is likely to bolster that argument.

Coors’ vast personal wealth and well-known name in the state, however, are likely to keep any fears about the future of his candidacy at bay.

— C.C.

WISCONSIN
Feingold’s Foes Call Him Un-American

Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D) GOP foes in the Badger State’s Senate race heaped scorn on the co-architect of the campaign finance reform, calling him “un-American” and “cowardly” at a Republican primary debate last week.

Auto dealer Russ Darrow said Feingold’s vote against the USA Patriot Act was “un-American.” Attorney Robert Lorge said his lone dissenting vote was “cowardly.”

When asked if Darrow regrets his choice of words, which evoked images of an infamous native son — the late Sen. Joe McCarthy (R) — and his hunt for “un-American” activities, campaign manager Eric Schutt said “no.”

Darrow does not think the Senator himself is “un-American,” Schutt explained, but rather he feels Feingold’s vote against the act, which expanded police powers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was “un-American.”

After the debate, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Darrow clarified that he did not think Feingold is unpatriotic but that he thought the vote was.

Lorge could not be reached for comment to expand on his characterization of Feingold’s vote.

Feingold’s campaign responded to both charges by saying: “It doesn’t speak well for the Republican field of candidates if they have already been reduced to referring to Sen. Feingold as ‘un-American’ and ‘cowardly.’”

Lorge and Darrow are competing for the Republican nomination against businessman Tim Michels and state Sen. Bob Welch.

In other race news, Darrow held a “world premiere” of his almost 20-minute campaign movie, “The Right Russ,” on Tuesday at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater.

Republicans have been touting a poll conducted on behalf of the Republican Party of Wisconsin showing Feingold’s re-elect at only 46 percent.

They point out that his standing is comparable or below that of Democratic Senators who lost last cycle — mainly former Sen. Jean Carnahan (Mo.), whose support was at 49 percent, and former Sen. Max Cleland (Ga.), whose standing was 45 percent.

The survey of 500 voters had a 4.4 percent error margin and was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.

— Nicole Duran

ALASKA
Were They Whooping It Up Over ANWR?

Former Gov. Tony Knowles (D), who is challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), apparently has some deep, dark GOP ties.

According to The New York Times, Knowles and President Bush lived it up together in college.

Both were members of Delta Kappa Epsilon at Yale University in the late ’60s.

“There were, uh, social activities,” Knowles told the paper when asked if the two “partied together.”

— N.D.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Businessman Takes On Bradley in 1st District

Businessman Bob Bevill announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination in the Granite State’s 1st district Tuesday.

Bevill is the president of World Wide OnLine — a company that provides Internet access for military and civilian customers.

Bevill worked on both former Sen. Bob Dole’s (R-Kan.) and Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns.

The radio talk-show host is taking on freshman Rep. Jeb Bradley in the GOP primary.

Software developer Bob Bruce is the only announced Democrat for the Sept. 14 primary.

The open-seat election in 2002 was initially considered highly competitive, but Bradley wound up winning it by an astonishing 19 points, dampening Democrats’ enthusiasm for the race this cycle.

The filing deadline is June 11.
— N.D.

CALIFORNIA
Green Candidate Takes Her Case to Court, Jail

Would-be 8th district Green Party Congressional candidate Terry Baum has sued for a place on the November ballot, arguing that San Francisco elections officials illegally threw her off.

Baum, who competed in the March 2 primary as a write-in candidate, said she was initially told that she had received enough votes to qualify for the general election. But according to the San Francisco Chronicle, she was informed a week later that 229 of the votes for her were invalid because the voters had not properly filled out the write-in ballot.

Earlier this month, Baum was arrested during a sit-in at the city elections office with three other people to protest voting irregularities during the primary.

If Baum is allowed back on the ballot, she will be competing for second place in the 8th district race with Republican lawyer Jennifer DePalma. The district has been long held by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D).

— J.K.