In Washington State, Rossi Reiterates Lack of Interest in a Senate Bid
Dino Rossi, the Republican gubernatorial candidate who is challenging his narrow 2004 loss to now-Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) in court, was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to raise money for his efforts to overturn the result.
Speaking at the Republican Governors Association, Rossi said he expects to be elected governor “one way or another.”
His case is likely headed for the state Supreme Court, but he and Republicans are increasingly bullish that the election results, which Gregoire won on the third count — a hand recount — will be thrown out and a special election called.
Rossi says he would run in a special election and he believes he would win.
Democrats are equally bullish that the court will rule in their favor and ultimately uphold the results.
The news for Republicans hoping to oust Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) next year was not as bullish, however.
Republicans in both Washingtons continue to believe that Rossi would be their strongest Senate candidate, but he continues to maintain that the contest holds no interest for him.
“I didn’t resign [from the state Senate] to run for other positions,” Rossi said, though he was less than Shermanesque in his dismissal.
“Being a U.S. Senator is probably a great job but I don’t know how it would fix my state,” he said, adding that he ran for governor because he sees many problems facing the Evergreen State that he would like to tackle.
When asked what his next political move would be, should he lose the court battle, Rossi replied: “I don’t know if there would be anything.”
Several Republicans are said to be eyeing the Cantwell race, including former Rep. Rick White, Safeco chief executive Mike McGavick and state party Chairman Chris Vance. But no one seems willing to officially enter the fray until the gubernatorial lawsuit is settled.
— Nicole Duran
Kemp to Stump For McEwen in Special
Former vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp (R) will make a campaign stop Friday for former Rep. Bob McEwen (R), who is vying in the crowded special election to succeed former Rep. Rob Portman (R).
Portman is the newly sworn-in U.S. trade representative.
Kemp will attend an afternoon event May 20 at the Holiday Inn Eastgate in Clermont County to “discuss the issues facing the 2nd district and the unique advantage the district would have in electing his friend Congressman Bob McEwen,” according to McEwen’s campaign Web site.
He has also been endorsed by Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz.
McEwen, last elected to Congress in 1990, is battling a crowded field in his attempt to wage a political comeback.
Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine (R), son of Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), has led in early polling in the race and is widely considered the frontrunner.
However, several Republicans, including McEwen, are jockeying for position as the conservative, anti-DeWine choice in next month’s primary. DeWine’s personal issues, including a messy divorce, are expected to be a factor in the contest.
Pat DeWine will hold a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., tonight that is being hosted by his father and three GOP Members of the state’s Congressional delegation. On Wednesday, his campaign rolled out a list of 11 local officials who have endorsed his campaign.
The Cincinnati-area district heavily favors the GOP, and the June 14 primary will essentially decide who the next Member from the 2nd district will be.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Businesswoman Tests House Waters in D.C.
Wealthy businesswoman Teresa Bartels (R) was in Washington, D.C., this week circling the wagons as she moves closer to announcing a bid next year in the suburban Chicago 8th district.
Bartels, who met with members of the state’s GOP delegation as well as officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee, is one of several Republicans eyeing the race against freshman Rep. Melissa Bean (D), a top target for House Republicans in 2006.
Some in the state GOP establishment believe that Bartels — with a profile as a successful businesswoman and community leader who opposes abortion rights — could be the strongest nominee against Bean.
Still, Bartels, who has never run for political office, could face a debilitating primary.
Wealthy investment banker David McSweeney (R) is already in the race and has indicated his willingness to spend personal money. McSweeney challenged then-Rep. Phil Crane (R), whom Bean defeated, in a 1998 primary.
State Rep. Bob Churchill and wealthy trial lawyer Al Salvi are among the other GOP candidates still seriously looking at the race.
If Salvi, who spent almost $1.5 million on an unsuccessful Senate bid in 1996, McSweeney and Bartels all end up in the race, it would set up an interesting, expensive and nasty primary.
‘Recovering Politician’ Nixes Comeback Rumor
Although his name has been mentioned on some Web sites as a possible challenger to Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R) next year, “it’s news to me,” said ex-Rep. Sam Coppersmith (D).
Coppersmith, who served a term in the House from 1993 to 1995, said he won’t be running for any office in 2006.
“I describe myself as a recovering politician,” he said. “It’s day to day, though.”
Since losing badly to now-Sen. Jon Kyl (R) in the 1994 open-seat Senate race, the unabashedly liberal Coppersmith has been practicing law in Phoenix. Recently, he became a columnist for the Tribune newspapers in the Phoenix area and also has a Web log — the address, fittingly, is liberaldesert.blogspot.com.
Coppersmith predicted that 2006 will be the busiest election year in Arizona since 2002 — even though he won’t be a part of it.
“It’s been safe to watch TV” because there hasn’t been much political advertising, he said. “That won’t be the case in 2006.”
— Josh Kurtz
Hutchison Speculation Is Running Rampant
Rumors about Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R) political future are running rampant in the days leading up to the end of the Texas legislative session.
After batting down talk that she was a leading candidate to be ambassador to the Court of St. James, Hutchison was mentioned this week by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) as the likely candidate to serve as Republican Conference chairwoman in the 110th Congress.
“A lot of us hope she will spend a long time with us,” McConnell said at a conference hosted by Hutchison on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
The third-ranking position in the Senate will be open at the start of 2006.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) will retire at the end of the 109th Congress, a move that will bump McConnell, currently the party’s Majority Whip, into the top-ranking position. Current Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) will ascend to Majority Whip, assuming he is re-elected next year.
Hutchison, however, has said repeatedly in past campaigns that she would serve only two terms in the Senate, a pledge that comes due in 2006.
She continues to contemplate a primary bid against Gov. Rick Perry (R). A decision is expected in June when the Texas Legislature adjourns.
— Chris Cillizza
Freshman Delegate Is Organizing House Race
State Del. Neil Quinter (D) became the first candidate to formally enter the race to replace Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D), who is running for Senate.
Quinter announced Tuesday that he is “beginning to organize” a Congressional campaign.
“Serving in the Congress presents an excellent opportunity to build upon my work to promote public safety in Maryland, protect our environment and the Chesapeake Bay, strengthen the education of our children, and protect consumers,” he said.
Quinter, 43, is in his first term in the Legislature, representing portions of Howard County. He has also worked as a clerk for a federal judge and as an assistant state attorney general, was research director for Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) on his 1994 re-election campaign, and served as Judiciary Committee counsel to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
In addition to Quinter’s home turf of Howard County, the serpent-like 3rd district includes portions of the city of Baltimore, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County. Other possible Democratic contenders include Baltimore Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson, state Sen. Paula Hollinger and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens.
Is Councilman Hoping for Split Black Vote?
Given the demographics of the 11th Congressional district, political observers have wondered whether a white candidate would jump into the race to succeed retiring Rep. Major Owens (D) next year.
Now, the answer may be yes.
Crain’s New York Business reported this week that City Councilman David Yassky (D) is telling political people in the city that he will run for Owens’ seat. Yassky apparently hopes to take advantage of what could be a crowded field in the Brooklyn district, which is about one-quarter white.
So far, all of the other declared and possible contenders in the Democratic stronghold are black. Chris Owens, the Congressman’s son, has already entered the race, and state Sen. Carl Andrews is also expected to run. State Assemblyman Nick Perry and City Councilwomen Tracy Boyland and Yvette Clarke are also weighing the race.
Crain’s suggested that Yassky will have trouble attracting support from the building trade unions, because he filed an amicus brief in support of groups suing to prevent the New York Jets from building a football stadium on Manhattan’s West Side.
Yassky told the newspaper he is focused on his 2005 re-election race for now.
New Secretary of State: Redistricting Impossible
The man Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) appointed recently to run elections in the Golden State stunned a Sacramento audience Tuesday by saying there wasn’t enough time to implement Schwarzenegger’s redistricting reform plan before the 2006 elections.
“There’s no way we can make it by next year,” new Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (R) told a Sacramento Press Club luncheon, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. “It’s questionable we can make it by 2008. We probably could do it by 2010.”
Schwarzenegger wants to take responsibility for Congressional and legislative redistricting away from the Legislature and place it with a panel of retired judges. He is pushing for a special election to be held this fall, and if the redistricting measure passes, he wants new lines in place for 2006.
McPherson’s comments took redistricting reform advocates by surprise.
Schwarzenegger wants new boundaries drawn as quickly as possible, the governor’s press secretary, Margita Thompson, told the Daily News, “to restore the connection between elected officials and the people who elect them.”
Democratic pollster Patrick Caddell, a board member of a group called Californians for Fair Redistricting, suggested that McPherson, though appointed by Schwarzenegger, was doing the bidding of the Democratic Legislature that confirmed his nomination.
“Bruce McPherson was the only candidate acceptable to the Democratic leadership of the state Legislature,” Caddell said in a statement. “They are against redistricting and sadly, therefore, so is McPherson. His arguments go without merit.”
Ex-Congressman Loses Bid for Local Judgeship
Former Rep. Doug Walgren (D) lost his bid for a judgeship Tuesday, according to the pegALERT, a Pennsylvanians for Effective Government publication.
He was seeking to become an Allegheny County Common Pleas judge but finished eighth in a field that selected seven Democratic candidates to advance to the general election. Walgren’s 14-year Congressional career was ended in 1990 by now-Sen. Rick Santorum (R).
Fueled by Bush, RNC Collects $15 Million
The Republican National Committee raised more than $15 million at a gala event Tuesday night featuring President Bush.
The fundraiser, which was held at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington, D.C., set a record for the largest take in a nonelection year since the collection of nonfederal money by the party committees was banned following the 2002 election.
“We came to Washington, D.C., to solve problems,” Bush said in a speech that lasted 25 minutes. “We have shown the American people we are capable of delivering results.”
Bush touched on a variety of issues, both foreign and domestic, including the ongoing war on terror as well as his determination to overhaul the Social Security system.
A number of Senators were in attendance, including several who are aiming to take Bush’s place when he leaves office in 2008: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.), who is retiring in 2006, and Virginia Sen. George Allen both moved around the room — careful to dodge the fountains of chocolate stationed at the buffet tables.