Maryland: Steele, Wynn Share Table At CBC’s Fundraiser

Posted September 28, 2005 at 6:59pm

Heads turned when Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the likely Republican Senate nominee next year, turned up as a guest at Rep. Albert Wynn’s (D) table during the glitzy Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner Saturday night.

But Wynn insisted that he did not invite Steele. The Congressman said “one of my biggest supporters” asked if he could bring Steele to the event.

“I think he wants to show that he would have good relationships with the CBC,” Wynn said of Steele. “Also I’m sure he’s interested in identifying major African-American contributors and showing — symbolically — that he can work with Democrats and by that make himself acceptable to African-American Democrats in Maryland.”

Wynn, the head of the CBC political action committee, said he “couldn’t speculate” on whether the PAC would give money to Steele this cycle, but he did say the Republican, who lives in Wynn’s Congressional district, would be a “formidable candidate.”

While Steele worked the room, his potential Senate opponent, former Rep. and ex-NAACP President Kweisi Mfume (D), sat just a few feet away at Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-La.) table.

Mfume has been meeting individually with CBC Members, including Wynn, to solicit support for his Senate candidacy.

“As a former Member and African-American Member, I anticipate the PAC will be supportive [of Mfume],” Wynn said.

— Erin P. Billings

Owens Aide May Run Against His Former Boss

Kevin O’Keefe (D), a top aide to Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens (D) is leaving his post to concentrate on running for the open 3rd district seat next year — a job Owens herself may covet.

The 41-year-old lawyer, who spent six years as Owens’ chief lobbyist, was holding off on a decision to run until his boss disclosed her political plans, but decided he could no longer wait.

“I’ve been thinking about this for five months,” O’Keefe told The Baltimore Sun Wednesday. “The field is growing. I need to start working.”

O’Keefe, who also was a statehouse lobbyist for the city of Baltimore and Baltimore public schools, ran unsuccessfully for the Baltimore City Council in 1991, losing to now-Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley (D), among others, in the Democratic primary.

Four Democrats already are running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D), and a handful of others, including Owens, could follow. Owens, who also is eyeing other offices, is expected to announce her intentions in October.

— Josh Kurtz

SOUTH CAROLINA
Potential Spratt Foe Sounds Like Candidate

State Rep. Ralph Norman (R) said this week that he has decided whether he will challenge Rep. John Spratt (D) in 2006 — he’s just not prepared to make it public.

“I have made a decision, I’m not ready to announce it yet,” Norman said in an interview.

While Norman said an announcement would be forthcoming, he sounded very candidate-esque as he described what needed to take place between now and then.

“There’s a lot of moving parts on this thing,” he said. “It shouldn’t be too long.”

Norman has been recruited by top Republicans and traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month for meetings with Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

Spratt, first elected in 1982 and now ranking member on the Budget Committee, hasn’t faced a competitive re-election race in a decade.

— Lauren W. Whittington

CALIFORNIA
Former Rep. McCloskey Seeks Pombo Opponent

Former Rep. Pete McCloskey (R) said Wednesday he will consider challenging Rep. Richard Pombo (R) in the Republican primary next year if he is unable to recruit another candidate to take on the House Resources Committee chairman.

McCloskey, who co-authored the Endangered Species Act, is livid with Pombo for attempting to adjust the law, and upset that Pombo did not accept his offer to testify before his committee, which is considering the changes.

“We have sought for three months, and will continue to seek, a candidate to run against him,” McCloskey said in a telephone interview from his home in Northern California. “I’ll run only if we’re not able to find a competent Republican challenger for him. I would expect by the end of the year to find one.”

The “we” McCloskey referred to was an organization called “Revolt of the Elders,” a group of former Republican Congressmen that pine for what they remember as the good ol’ days when the GOP believed in balanced budgets and supported abortion rights.

McCloskey recently walked precincts for Marilyn Brewer (R), a moderate running in next week’s 48th district special open primary.

Pombo’s political consultant, Wayne Johnson, is not concerned about a possible challenge from McCloskey — or a like-minded candidate — to say the least.

“He wouldn’t just be to the left in the Republican primary, he’d be to left among the Democrats that are talking about running,” Johnson said. “He doesn’t live in the district, and his ideas are even further away.”

McCloskey, who currently lives in rural Rumsey, said he will move to Pleasanton if he chooses to run.

— David M. Drucker

Schwarzenegger Antes Up for Redistricting Vote

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has contributed $1.25 million of his own wealth to his campaign to reform how political districts are drawn in California.

“The governor wanted to put his money where his reforms are and demonstrate that he is not only personally and politically invested in these reforms, but he is also now financially invested,” said Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Todd Harris on Wednesday.

If passed by voters in a special election Schwarzenegger has called for Nov. 8, Proposition 77 would take the power to draw legislative and Congressional districts out of the hands of the Democratic-controlled Legislature, giving it instead to a nonpartisan panel of retired judges.

Steve Poizner, a moderate Republican running for state insurance commissioner who is chairman of Schwarzenegger’s Proposition 77 campaign, also has donated $1.25 million of his vast personal fortune to the effort.

Schwarzenegger is supporting three other voter initiatives in the November election, including one to limit state spending and another to restrict how public employee unions spend members’ dues.

— D.M.D.

NEW YORK
Boehlert Substitutes Brock for Snider at Event

Now pinch-hitting for Hall of Famer Duke Snider — Hall of Famer Lou Brock.

This is not some move in an Old Timer’s fantasy baseball league game. Rather, it represents a change of line-up at a fundraiser next week for Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R).

Boehlert, who frequently takes advantage of the fact that the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is in his district, is scheduled to have one of his regular baseball-themed fundraisers at the American Legion Hall on Capitol Hill next Tuesday.

Originally, Snider, the great Brooklyn Dodger center fielder, was scheduled to be the headline attraction. But an injury is preventing Snider from attending, so Brock, baseball’s former stolen bases king, is stepping in at the $1,000-a-ticket affair.

Boehlert is heavily favored to win a 13th term, but he is facing a Republican primary challenge from former Seneca Falls Mayor Brad Jones.

— J.K.

Massa Amasses Support From Local Democrats

Eric Massa (D) is racking up several key endorsements from local Democratic leaders in his bid to upend freshman Rep. Randy Kuhl (R) in 2006.

Last week, Massa, a retired Navy commander who was a one-time top aide to retired Gen. Wesley Clark, was endorsed by the Chemung County Democratic Committee.

“He brings integrity, vision and an agenda for change to the 29th Congressional district,” said county Chairwoman Cindy Emmer.

Massa has now been endorsed by five of the eight county Democratic organizations in the sprawling 29th district. He said he expects to get two others by the end of October; the Monroe County Democratic Party will weigh in on the Congressional race after the Rochester mayoral election this November.

Massa is the only Democrat in the race so far. He caught a break last week when 2004 nominee Samara Barend took a job with a nonprofit organization that works on transportation funding. Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni (D) has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but has taken no steps to run.

Massa said he has raised about $55,000 or $60,000 for the race so far. Through June 30, Kuhl, who beat Barend 51 percent to 41 percent in 2004, had $350,000 on hand.

— J.K.

NATION
New Reid Web Site Invokes Harry Truman

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has waded into the world of Internet activism with a new Web site geared toward helping Democrats retake the Senate next year.

GiveEmHellHarry.com launched Wednesday with an agenda focused largely on fallout from the recent hurricanes. It features a news section, a leadership political action committee donation solicitation area and, the now requisite, Web log.

Reid’s first choice of topic was a call to action against oil companies.

“Send a clear, unambiguous message to the nation’s largest oil companies who refused to testify at a Democratic Policy Committee [hearing] last week on rising gas prices,” he wrote.

The site will be advertised on billboards in New Mexico, Arizona and Montana, which is meant as proof of Reid’s commitment to putting more Western states in the Democrats’ column.

— Nicole Duran