Nation: Dole, NRSC Launch Women’s Network
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) formally launched the Women’s Majority Network with an event Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Dole announced the creation of the program in May, billing it as a means of reaching out to women business and community leaders to grow the number of GOP voters and donors in 2006. Dole is the first woman to head the NRSC and the first woman Senator elected from the Tar Heel State.
She has tapped her four female GOP colleagues — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) — to serve as the honorary chairwomen of the group.
The group is governed by a steering committee of female business owners and community leaders throughout the country. It is chaired by Melanie Sabelhaus, who left her position earlier this year as Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Among the network’s more prominent steering committee members are: Susan Allen, wife of Sen. George Allen (R-Va.); GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway; GOP strategist Mary Matalin; New York Stock Exchange Vice President Margaret Tutwiler, a former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; and former Reps. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) and Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.).
— Lauren W. Whittington
EMILY’s List Gets Behind Eleven Candidates So Far
EMILY’s List has rolled out its first round of endorsements more than a year ahead of next November’s midterm elections.
The group, which helps raise funds for Democratic women who support abortion rights, has weighed in on 11 Congressional races so far.
Several races feature freshman Senators the group backed in 2000 — Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) — and some are long-serving incumbents such as California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Lynn Woolsey. The group also is hoping to ensure that freshmen Reps. Melissa Bean (Ill.) and Allyson Schwartz (Pa.) do not hit a sophomore slump.
Staying true to its philosophy that Early Money Is Like Yeast, the group already has thrown in with several challengers: Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, who is taking her second stab at unseating Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) in the Constitution State’s 4th district; attorney Lois Murphy, who is seeking a rematch with Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) in the Keystone State’s 6th district; Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor, the daughter of failed 2004 Senate nominee Betty Castor, who is seeking the open 11th district seat in the Sunshine State; and Missouri Auditor Claire McCaskill, who hopes to unseat freshman Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.).
EMILY’s List endorsed Farrell and Murphy last year as well as McCaskill in her unsuccessful gubernatorial bid and the elder Castor in her Senate race.
The group also announced its support of several women running for state offices across the country.
— Nicole Duran
Former Dean Group Summons Up Courage
John Courage (D) is Democracy For America’s idol, having won a national online vote of the organization’s members to become the first DFA-endorsed Congressional candidate of the 2006 midterm elections.
Courage is set to seek the Democratic nomination in the 21st District, and will take on Rep. Lamar Smith (R), who won re-election last year with 62 percent of the vote, if victorious.
Courage, an Air Force veteran, was the 2002 nominee against Smith, taking just 25 percent of the vote.
“John Courage is the ideal candidate to be named as the DFA Grassroots All-Star,” DFA Chairman Jim Dean said in a written statement.
DFA, an offshoot of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s (D) 2004 presidential campaign, ran a competition to decide who would receive the organization’s first endorsement of the 2006 election cycle, consisting of two rounds of voting from a list of candidates that originally numbered 60.
“I’m excited and appreciative of the honor of having been voted DFA’s first Grassroots All-Star,” Courage said in a written statement. “We have a great challenge facing us in changing the course of America next year.”
The 21st district, which extends from the suburbs of Austin to the suburbs of San Antonio, gave President Bush 61 percent of the vote last year.
— David M. Drucker
GOP Recruits Delegate for Mollohan Challenge
National Republicans are recruiting state Del. Chris Wakim (R) to challenge veteran Rep. Alan Mollohan (D) next year, the Wheeling Intelligencer reported last week.
Wakim visited Washington, D.C., recently and met with GOP campaign officials to discuss a possible bid.
“I am taking a real hard look at it,” Wakim told the newspaper. “I should be making a decision in a week or so.”
Mollohan — who represents the northern third of the state, including the panhandle — has faced minimal opposition and handily won re-election over the past two decades.
But the district, like the state, has trended toward Republicans in recent years.
Wakim is the second potential candidate recruited by national GOP leaders against a senior House Democrat to emerge in the last week.
Top Republicans, including White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, also are encouraging South Carolina state Rep. Ralph Norman (R) to challenge Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.) next year.
Both Spratt and Mollohan are ranking members on House committees and neither has been targeted by the GOP in recent years.
Hurricane Stars in Ads Attacking Sensenbrenner
Second-time challenger Bryan Kennedy (D) is hitting the airwaves in his attempts to dislodge longtime Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R) from his safe suburban Milwaukee district.
On Monday he began a week-long cable television buy with a commercial that chastises Sensenbrenner for voting against the recent Hurricane Katrina reconstruction package.
The ad’s narrator says: “When President Bush needed billions of dollars to help rebuild Iraq … Jim Sensenbrenner said ‘yes.’ When the tsunami hit Asia … Jim Sensenbrenner voted again to send our money overseas. But when fellow Americans on the Gulf Coast needed help … Jim Sensenbrenner turned his back on them and voted ‘no.”
The ad, which Kennedy’s campaign said will air more than 300 times this week, marks the first by a 2006 candidate to use the hurricane bill against an incumbent.
Kennedy won the Democratic primary to take on Sensenbrenner last year but lost 67 percent to 32 percent.
Kennedy, a professor of Portuguese at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin, hopes to raise more than the roughly $250,000 he did last year.
Brown Tells Senate Foes to Release Tax Records
Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown, who is seeking the Democratic nod to challenge Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) next year, is asking his opponents to release their tax returns.
Brown also challenged the three other Senate candidates to relinquish any shares of stock in oil companies they may own.
Brown released his tax records in May.
“Oil companies are making record profits on the backs of Rhode Islanders and people across the country,” his campaign said in a news release.
“Any candidate for U.S. Senate who owns stock in oil companies should sell those stocks right away,” Brown said in the statement.
Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, who is challenging Chafee in the Republican primary, raised the issue of high gas prices in a recent television ad, the first of the campaign.
He has been criticized for dealing in oil company stocks while the head of an investment banking firm in Tennessee.
Brown faces former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse in the Democratic primary. Whitehouse disclosed his personal finances last month.
According to the Providence Journal, Whitehouse and his family own between $100,000 and $250,000 in several companies, including Deven Energy Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Conoco-Phillips. They also own stock in Royal Dutch Petroleum.
Senators are required to disclose their personal wealth annually.
Chafee is worth $39 million, making him the 10th wealthiest Member of the 109th Congress. His wealth has declined largely due to losses in the SD Chafee Blind Trust, which was worth almost $43 million in 2002.
Stabenow Has Big Lead Over Two Republicans
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) led both of her relatively unknown Republican challengers by at least 20 points, though her job approval rating and re-elect numbers were less than stellar, according to a new poll.
The poll of 600 likely voters conducted Sept. 18-21 by EPIC/MRA of Lansing, Mich., had a 5 percent error margin.
Stabenow bested the Republican frontrunner for the nomination, the Rev. Keith Butler, 49 percent to 25 percent. She led Jerry Zandstra 50 percent to 22 percent.
Forty-five percent said Stabenow was doing a good job while 37 percent did not and 18 percent did not rate her. However, 55 percent of voters surveyed said they have a favorable opinion of her.
Thirty-five percent said that they would vote for Stabenow, 30 percent said they would consider someone else, 13 percent said they would definitely support someone else and 22 percent were undecided.
In the Republican primary, 13 percent said they preferred Butler, 7 percent chose Zanstra and the vast majority, 80 percent, were undecided. When a biographical paragraph about each was read, Zandstra, another minister, made substantial gains — 30 percent then supported him to Butler’s 22 percent. — N.D.