In Battleground State, Voinovich Drops Some

Posted May 12, 2004 at 5:58pm

As the battle for the White House appears headed for a showdown in the Buckeye State this November, Democrats are touting a new poll that showed Sen. George Voinovich (R) under the critical 50 percent mark as he seeks a second term.

In the survey, commissioned by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Voinovich got 47 percent while Democratic state Sen. Eric Fingerhut got 32 percent.

The Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates Inc. poll of 801 likely presidential voters in Ohio was taken April 18-19. It had a 3 percent margin of error.

Ohio is considered one of the top battleground states in this year’s presidential contest.

While the poll shows Voinovich appears vulnerable, the absence of a well-funded challenger leaves the Buckeye State contest far from inclusion in the top tier of Senate races this cycle.

Fingerhut, a former one-term Congressman from Cleveland, raised just $79,000 in the first quarter of the year and ended March with a paltry $109,000 in the bank.

Voinovich, a former governor and mayor of Cleveland, showed $5 million in his campaign war chest.

The poll also showed that Voinovich led Fingerhut 45 percent to 39 percent in the Cleveland media market, where 36 percent of the state’s votes are cast.
— Lauren W. Whittington

WASHINGTON
Dueling Polls Show Different Senate Results

A new poll in the Evergreen State’s Senate race showed Rep. George Nethercutt (R) trailing Sen. Patty Murray (D) by 10 points, but Republicans are highlighting the fact that only 41 percent of respondents believe the two-term Senator deserves re-election.

The Tarrance Group poll, conducted for Nethercutt’s campaign, had Murray at 51 percent and Nethercutt at 41 percent in an initial head-to-head matchup. In a separate question, however, 43 percent of respondents said they believed it is time for someone new.

The survey of 500 likely registered voters was taken May 2-3 and had a 5 percent margin of error.

Thanks to recent advertising by Nethercutt, the Congressman’s name awareness statewide has increased to 71 percent, the poll found.

In response, the Murray campaign released its own poll numbers that paint quite a different picture of the race.

In its poll, conducted late last month by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates, Murray was ahead of Nethercutt, 54 percent to 31 percent.

The survey also showed Murray with a 59 percent favorability rating and 62 percent job approval among the 800 likely voters surveyed.
— L.W.W.

ALASKA
Gone Two Years, Knowles Reintroduces Himself

Former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) went up with his first TV ad of the cycle Wednesday in his bid to unseat Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R).

Knowles’ 60-second biographical spot, produced by Squier Knapp Dunn, is designed to reintroduce voters to a man who spent eight years as governor and also served as Anchorage mayor. It describes his military service, the hamburger stand he and his wife started that grew into a successful restaurant, and his record of public service.

The ad stresses Knowles’ political independence, reminding voters that he stood up “to his own party to protect Alaska jobs.”

The ad is airing in all three Alaska media markets and on cable TV for the next two weeks. The campaign expects to begin radio ads sometime after Memorial Day.

Murkowski has aired two separate TV ads and a series of radio ads in the past two months.
— Josh Kurtz

MINNESOTA
Dynamic Will Fascinate Even if Race Isn’t Close

Patty Wetterling, a nationally known advocate for child safety, officially jumped into the 6th district Congressional race Tuesday and is expected to have no problem grabbing the Democratic nomination.

Wetterling became publicly known — and civically active — after her 11-year-old son was abducted at gunpoint in 1989. She returned to her late son’s elementary school in St. Cloud to kick off her campaign.

“I want to go to Washington because the path of hope I started to walk down 14 years ago has led me there again and again to find solutions to difficult problems, to build a safer, better world for our children,” she said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Wetterling will face an uphill battle against two-term Rep. Mark Kennedy (R) in the Republican-leaning district north of the Twin Cities. Kennedy is expected to challenge Sen. Mark Dayton (D) in 2006 and has amassed a huge war chest to date.

Although she is the underdog, some Democrats believe Wetterling has more potential than a conventional candidate would.
— J.K.

NEW YORK
Democrat Vows to Win Back Quinn’s Unions

State Assemblyman Brian Higgins, the Democratic frontrunner in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jack Quinn (R), is moving quickly to bring many of Quinn’s labor supporters back into the Democratic fold.

The Buffalo News recently reported that Higgins, who formally entered the race over the weekend, had lunch last week with 25 labor leaders who have previously supported Quinn.

Quinn represented the Democratically leaning Buffalo-area district for six terms, relying heavily on union support to defy the registration numbers.

“I can bring the Jack Quinn Democrats back to the Democratic Party,” Higgins said.

As of Saturday, Higgins said he had between $25,000 and $30,000 in contributions, and he pledged to raise another $100,000 at a fundraiser scheduled for Thursday night.

A handful of other Democrats are still eyeing the race, although one potential contender — Assemblyman William Parment — announced Monday that he would not run. On the Republican side, Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples has emerged as the likely nominee.
— J.K.

Allegations May Derail Potential Rangel Foe

Allegations of impropriety that are rocking a prominent state Assemblyman have implications for New York City Congressional politics, present and future.

New York tabloids have reported in the past few days that a 19-year-old intern is accusing Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D) of serving her alcohol, then forcing her to have sex with him.

While Powell has remained mum about the accusations, police in the Albany suburb of Colonie have launched an investigation.

Powell, son of the late Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-N.Y.), has been mulling whether to challenge Rep. Charlie Rangel in the Democratic primary this year for the Harlem-based seat his father once held. Powell — who was certain to run for the seat once Rangel retired regardless of the outcome of this year’s primary — ran unsuccessfully against Rangel in 1994, taking 33 percent of the primary vote.

Ironically, Rangel defeated the elder Powell to win the seat in 1970.
— J.K.

State Senate Leader Backs One of His Own

State Sen. Randy Kuhl (R) continues to line up support from the state’s Republican establishment in his bid to replace retiring Rep. Amo Houghton (R), who has also endorsed him.

The second most powerful Republican in New York, state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, hosted a fundraiser for Kuhl’s Congressional campaign on Tuesday night at a private club one block from the state Capitol.

Tickets, according to the Elmira Star-Gazette, ran from $500 to $1,000.

Kuhl is the nominal frontrunner in a six-way primary with Monroe County legislator Mark Assini, state Assemblyman Brian Kolb, Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Bill Nojay, Rochester businessman Geoff Rosenberger and Monroe County Legislature Majority Leader Bill Smith.
— J.K.

CALIFORNIA
Speaker Throws Weight Behind Two Candidates

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) has fundraisers scheduled for Republican House candidates on successive days. On May 18, Hastert will be boosting state Sen. Roy Ashburn (R), who is running for an open seat in the Central Valley being vacated by Rep. Cal Dooley (D).

Ashburn is the underdog in a race with former state Sen. Jim Costa (D), but Republicans believe he has a chance of pulling off an upset. Ashburn is a former aide to Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.).

On May 19, Hastert will appear at a Capitol Hill fundraiser for Tim Escobar (R), who is seeking a rematch with freshman Rep. Linda Sanchez (D). Escobar, a financial adviser and former military helicopter pilot, took 41 percent of the vote against Sanchez in the heavily Democratic Los Angeles County district two years ago.
— J.K.

COLORADO
McInnis’ Brother-in-Law Leaves His Law Practice

In an effort to jump-start his campaign in the crowded 3rd district Republican primary, state Rep. Matt Smith announced Tuesday that he was quitting his law firm to campaign full time, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported.

Smith, who is seeking to succeed his brother-in-law, retiring Rep. Scott McInnis (R), is considered one of three top-tier GOP candidates along with fellow state Rep. Gregg Rippy and former Department of Natural Resources Secretary Greg Walcher. Unlike his two foes, Smith has barely raised any money for the race.

The winner of the primary is expected to face state Rep. John Salazar (D) in what is likely to be a very competitive general election. Salazar on Wednesday received the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters.
— J.K.