Arkansas: Ex-State Senator Says Primary Rumor Was Hogwash
Former state Sen. Kevin Smith (D) on Wednesday put to rest rumors that he will challenge Rep. Marion Berry (D) in 2008, despite hammering the incumbent in recent weeks.
Appearing recently on a radio show hosted by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette political columnist Pat Lynch, Smith accused Berry of supporting budget cuts to the Delta Regional Authority, an eight-state development agency.
Smith’s harsh rhetoric prompted speculation in the Razorback State that the former lawmaker was contemplating challenging Berry.
Berry has not had a primary challenger since he was first elected to Congress in 1998.
— Matthew Murray
Retooled Wynn Kicks Off Re-election Campaign
Nine months removed from a near-death experience in last fall’s Democratic primary, Rep. Albert Wynn (D) is set to formally kick off his bid for a ninth term this week with a series of appearances, accompanied by political heavyweights.
Wynn barely held off a challenge in the fall from lawyer and foundation official Donna Edwards (D), and Edwards, who got a late start in the 2006 race, already has announced her intention to try again.
On Friday, Wynn will host a fundraising breakfast at a church-owned catering hall in Prince George’s County, with former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), the current chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, as the featured attraction.
On Monday morning, Wynn will be stumping at two Metro stops in Montgomery County, surrounded by prominent local politicians. He’ll start at the Shady Grove Metro station, with County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) by his side. Then Wynn and other officials will ride the red line to Bethesda, where they will transfer to a Metro bus that will take them to the Silver Spring Metro station, where they’ll be joined by state Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), among others.
The support from Montgomery County officials is especially significant because Edwards beat Wynn by almost 3-1 there. The Congressman’s political base is in Prince George’s County — though that’s where Edwards is from as well — and Wynn was criticized by several national liberal groups last year, which seemed to hurt him among Montgomery voters.
As a result, Wynn is doing his best to tout his liberal credentials. A news release announcing the campaign kickoff reminds voters that he is against the Iraq War, in favor of universal health care and committed to ending global warming.
— Josh Kurtz
Bonilla Says He’s Done With Politics for Now
With “no light at the end of the tunnel” in the process for his nomination to become U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, former Rep. Henry Bonilla (R) said Wednesday he is swearing off politics and putting down roots at his new lobbying shop — for the time being, at least.
“I’m not going to say ‘absolutely never,’” Bonilla told Roll Call of a return to politics down the road. “But at this point I’m looking forward to a long-term relationship with the good people at The Normandy Group.”
The White House announced this week that it was removing Bonilla from consideration for the OAS ambassadorship. Bonilla was nominated soon after he lost to now-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) in a December runoff.
But with Democrats holding tight on a promise to make life difficult for President Bush’s March recess appointments, Bonilla doubted his day would ever come.
“We worked it pretty hard and talked to people on both sides of the political aisle,” Bonilla said. “It didn’t have anything to do with my nomination individually, but a global blockage.”
Frank Backs Tsongas; GOPer Lays Out Vision
College administrator Niki Tsongas (D) continues to rack up establishment support in the special election to replace Rep. Marty Meehan (D), who is stepping down on July 1.
Tsongas, the widow of former Sen. Paul Tsongas (D), appeared this week at a senior citizen center with Rep. Barney Frank (D), who endorsed her bid.
“Niki Tsongas is superbly qualified to be a Member of Congress,” Frank said in a statement.
Tsongas, one of five leading Democrats in the Sept. 4 special primary, also announced she has a Women for Tsongas fundraising event scheduled for Monday in Boston.
Meanwhile, the lone Republican in the special election, Air Force veteran Jim Ogonowski, used the 63rd anniversary of D-Day on Wednesday to lay out a plan to achieve victory in Iraq, stabilize the Middle East and protect the United States from terrorist attacks.
Ogonowski, whose brother was a pilot on one of the hijacked planes that slammed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, said that while he opposed President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, he now believes a quick withdrawal would be “cowardly and shortsighted.”
Ogonowski has sent copies of his proposal to Bush, Vice President Cheney and every Member of Congress.
‘Boring Tax Lawyer’ Enters Senate Contest
A third Democrat has joined the race to take on Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in 2008.
Bob Olson, an attorney and bank owner, said this week that he decided to run because the Senate needs a “boring tax lawyer.”
“I know how to get … things done,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I’m the only candidate that does.”
Olson joins comedian Al Franken and trial attorney Mike Ciresi in the race for the Democratic nomination. Like his opponents, Olson said he would honor the results of the Democratic state convention next summer and would not take the nominating fight to a primary.
In a related development, Franken this week rolled out endorsements from state Auditor Rebecca Otto (D) and 19 Democratic state legislators.
“After having spent the last year with Al on the campaign trail, I know that he will never be afraid to speak his mind or vote his convictions in Washington,” Otto said. “Al will always value principle over politics.”
Bush Nominates Green to Ambassadorship
President Bush on Wednesday nominated former Rep. Mark Green (R) to be ambassador to Tanzania.
That should end speculation that Green, who gave up his Green Bay-area House seat for a gubernatorial run last year, will try to get his old job back in 2008.
Now-Rep. Steve Kagen (D), an allergist, narrowly defeated then-state Assembly Speaker John Gard (R) in the race to replace Green. Gard is contemplating a rematch, and former Green Bay Mayor Paul Jadin (R) also is seen as a possible challenger to the freshman Congressman.
With NRCC on Attack, AFSCME Boosts Frosh
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees this week has launched TV ads in the districts of nine potentially vulnerable House freshmen, praising the Democrats for voting in favor of a higher minimum wage, greater health care benefits for veterans and tougher Congressional ethics rules.
The union is spending more than $500,000 for ads boosting Reps. Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Steve Kagen (Wis.), Nancy Boyda (Kan.), Heath Shuler (N.C.), Christopher Carney (Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Tim Walz (Minn.) and Tim Mahoney (Fla.).
Not coincidentally, these freshmen are among the 21 targeted on the home page of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Web site. While the NRCC Web site is being retooled, the committee has decided to temporarily make its “Real Democrat Story” — which seeks to cast the freshmen’s votes as at-odds with their moderate campaign rhetoric — as the lead feature on its site.