Tauzin’s Treasury Fueled by PACs and the NRCC
Former BellSouth lobbyist Billy Tauzin III (R) raised more than $500,000 in the past month for his Dec. 4 runoff race against former state Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) in the southeastern Louisiana 3rd district.
While Tauzin outraised Melancon by more than $200,000 ($523,000 to $321,000) from Oct. 14 to Nov. 14, almost half of the Republican’s money came in the form of a transfer from a unity fund set up by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Tauzin received $256,000 from that fund and raised another $132,000 from political action committees, the vast majority of which are connected to sitting Republican House Members.
Tauzin is seeking to replace his father, Rep. Billy Tauzin (R), in Congress. The elder Tauzin is the immediate past chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.
Tauzin ended the reporting period with $360,000 left to spend; Melancon had just $54,000 on hand.
Melancon’s campaign got a boost late last week when he was endorsed by state Rep. Damon Baldone (D), who placed fourth in the November all-party primary.
Baldone ran strong in his base of Terrebonne Parish — along the state’s southern coast — an area where Melancon must make inroads if he hopes to defeat Tauzin.
Tauzin had previously secured the support of former Senate aide Charmaine Caccioppi (D), who took 7 percent in the primary.
State Sen. Craig Romero (R), who nearly edged out Melancon for the second runoff spot, refused to endorse — a blow to Tauzin.
— Chris Cillizza
Boustany Has Outraised And Outspent Mount
Heart surgeon Charles Boustany (R) drastically outraised and outspent state Sen. Willie Mount (D) over the past month, according to pre-runoff reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last week.
Boustany, who led the 7th district all-party primary, brought in $796,000 from Oct. 14 to Nov. 14 compared to just $183,000 for Mount.
The Republican spent $723,000 in the period; Mount disbursed just $271,000.
The cash-on-hand totals are a bit more equal. Boustany had $167,000 left to spend, while Mount had $151,000.
The two are competing for the southwestern Louisiana seat being vacated by Rep. Chris John (D). John unsuccessfully ran for the Senate this fall.
Though the district has been represented by Democrats for the past several decades, the Republican candidates for Senate in 1996 and 2002 carried it.
Insiders of both partisan stripes acknowledge Boustany has a lead in private polling.
Mayor Looking Ahead to 2008 House Election
Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes (D) is looking ahead to a possible run for Congress — in 2008.
Wildes, who lives in Rep. Steven Rothman’s (D) 9th district, is anticipating Rothman running for the Senate in 2008, when Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) will be 84 and may not seek another term. Rothman could find himself in a Senate race sooner, if Sen. Jon Corzine (D) runs for governor as expected next year and wins.
Either way, Wildes is preparing to run for Rothman’s House seat some day; he has already followed in Rothman’s footsteps as mayor of Englewood.
Wildes held a 40th birthday celebration Wednesday night that doubled as a fundraiser for his Congressional committee. Headlined by Corzine and the old rap group the Sugar Hill Gang, the event in an Englewood hotel was free and open to the public — but attendees were encouraged to write a check in lieu of giving a birthday present.
— Josh Kurtz
Despite Target on Back, Nelson Will Stay Put
Sen. Ben Nelson (D) took himself out of consideration to replace Ann Veneman as secretary of Agriculture last week.
“I think this is where I can do the best job for the people of Nebraska and the country,” Nelson told a group of state reporters during a weekly conference call.
Nelson had reportedly spoken to the White House about whether he might be interested in the post, though he declined to confirm or deny that he had even discussed the possibility.
The Nebraska Democrat is perhaps the No. 1 target for Senate Republicans in 2006 when he is expected to stand for a second term.
After serving for eight years as governor — and losing a 1996 open-seat race to now-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) — Nelson won a Senate seat in 2000 with 51 percent of the vote.
The state’s decided Republican tilt coupled with the likely candidacy of Gov. Mike Johanns (R) have Republicans exuberant over their chances for a pickup.
A recent independent poll showed Nelson with a 41 percent to 38 percent lead over Johanns, a lead within the survey’s margin of error.