PENNSYLVANIA: Democrats: Santorum Should Return Money

Posted April 12, 2005 at 5:29pm

Democrats are calling for Sen. Rick Santorum (R) to return the money he raised during a Florida fundraising swing in the midst of the Terri Schiavo controversy.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported Monday that Santorum netted about $250,000 for his re-election campaign at events in Orlando, Tampa and Palm Beach late last month.

While the fundraisers were planned long before the Schiavo matter dominated national airwaves, Democrats are charging Santorum with exploiting the tragedy for political and financial gain and asking that he return the “tainted money.”

Santorum was scheduled to participate in a GOP town hall meeting on Social Security late last month in Tampa, but the event was canceled out of respect for Schiavo’s family.

Instead, Santorum, who traveled to the state anyway for the fundraising events, made national news when he visited Schiavo’s hospice March 30 and prayed with her family.

Pennsylvania state Rep. T.J. Rooney, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, held a news conference Tuesday deriding the Senator for going ahead with the fundraisers after the policy event was canceled.

“Sen. Santorum’s conscience stops when it comes to campaign cash,” Rooney said in a statement. “If Santorum truly wants to show respect to the Schiavo family, he should return the political money he raised while hypocritically grandstanding at Terry Schiavo’s deathbed.”

Santorum consultant John Brabender called Rooney’s request “despicable” and only the latest indication that Democrats are gearing up to run a “vicious mudslinging campaign” against the GOP Conference chairman next year.

“For them to attack Rick Santorum for taking the time … to go pray with the parents of a dying child, I think is one of the most outrageous, lowest political tricks that I’ve ever seen,” Brabender said.

Brabender stressed that the decision to call off the Social Security event was not Santorum’s to make and that the reason it was canceled was so as not to divert attention away from the ongoing debate over the right-to-die case. In contrast, he said, Santorum’s private fundraisers did not detract from coverage of the Schiavo matter.

He also called on state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., Santorum’s likely Democratic opponent, to denounce the “negative attacks” his party is lobbing at Santorum.

“Does he agree with them or not?” Brabender asked.

— Lauren W. Whittington

New York

Polls: Only Giuliani Gives Clinton a Race

Two separate independent polls released this week show that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the lone Republican candidate who could seriously challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) for re-election in 2006.

Giuliani led Clinton 49 percent to 47 percent in a Marist College poll, while the New York Senator held a 52 percent to 41 percent margin in a Siena College survey.

Giuliani has given no indication of his future political plans, but he is not expected to run for Senate. A 2006 gubernatorial bid remains a possibility, but Giuliani appears to have his sights set on running for president in 2008.

If, as expected, he does not challenge Clinton, Republicans will face a very difficult race.

In the Marist survey Clinton led current Gov. George Pataki (R) 60 percent to 34 percent and held leads of 30 points to 40 points over public relations executive Adam Brecht, Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, attorney Edward Cox and former Rep. Rick Lazio.

The Marist poll was in the field April 4-5 testing 705 registered voters with a 4 percent margin of error. The Siena survey tested 582 registered voters April 3-7. It carried a 4.1 percent margin of error.

— Chris Cillizza

Ohio

Schmidt Is Latest to Join Special Election

Former state Rep. Jean Schmidt this week became the third Republican, and only woman so far, to enter the special election race to succeed Rep. Rob Portman (R).

Portman has been nominated as the next U.S. Trade Representative, and the date for a special election will be set after he is confirmed by the Senate.

Schmidt joins Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine and state Rep. Tom Brinkman in the 2nd district GOP contest.

DeWine, the son of Sen. Mike DeWine, is considered the early frontrunner in the race.

The district overwhelmingly favors Republicans, and Democrats are not expected to vigorously contest the seat.

— L.W.W.

Nevada

Legislator May Angle Her Way Into GOP Race

A state legislator is eyeing the Silver State’s 2nd district seat.

Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) said that she is considering running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Gibbons (R), who is expected to run for governor next year, the Reno Journal Gazette reported Tuesday.

Angle would join two other Republicans who are already pursuing the race: Dawn Gibbons, a former Assemblywoman and wife of Jim Gibbons, and Secretary of State Dean Heller.

No Democrat has entered the fray yet in the heavily Republican district.

— Nicole Duran

Maryland

Legislature Rejects Plan to Change Primary Date

In the final hours of this year’s General Assembly session Monday, the state House and state Senate were unable to reach a compromise on setting a new 2006 primary date.

So unless there is emergency legislation to tackle the issue again during the 2006 legislative session, the primary will proceed as planned on Sept. 12 of that year.

Some Democratic leaders, prompted by members of the state’s Congressional delegation, wanted to move the primary to June 2006. Their argument: The earlier date would give Democratic nominees for Senate and governor extra time before the general election to recover from what are expected to be nasty primaries.

But some leaders in the state House argued that the earlier primary date was too close to the end of the Assembly session in April and would hamper legislative incumbents, who are banned from raising money during the three-month-long session. Senate leaders proposed an August primary as a compromise, but House leaders rejected that suggestion, arguing that too many people are out of town then, depressing turnout in the primary.

— Josh Kurtz