North Carolina: In Blow to Democrats, Miller Forgos Senate Bid
Rep. Brad Miller (D) said Monday that he will not challenge Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008, as Democrats go back to the drawing board to see if they can recruit a top-tier challenger in the Tar Heel State.
“Obviously, a big part of me wanted to run for the Senate … but I like what I’m doing in the House right now,” Miller told The Associated Press.
Miller had been mentioned as a potential candidate and had confirmed earlier this year that he was contemplating a Senate bid. He met with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) earlier this month.
Democrats believe Dole is potentially vulnerable, however, they have not been able to find a top-flight candidate for the race. Several well-known statewide elected officials are passing on the race.
Miller was elected in 2002 to a Raleigh-based seat that he helped to draw as a member of the state Senate during the post-2000 reapportionment and redistricting.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Ex-Congressman Is Still on Akaka’s Case
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) survived last year’s surprise primary challenge from then-Rep. Ed Case (D) but it seems the Aloha State’s junior Senator is still in Case’s crosshairs.
Though crafted more politely, the crux of Case’s Senate campaign was age.
Both Akaka and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) will turn 83 in September. Case argued that a small state such as Hawaii cannot afford to lose its collective seniority at once, therefore, voters should have put the next generation in place last year.
The amiable Akaka won the primary, 54 percent to 45 percent. But Case says his Senate campaign is not over.
“I continue to believe that our challenges over the next generation are most acute in the U.S. Senate, where we have not provided for an optimum transition and where I believe I can best serve,” Case recently told The Honolulu Advertiser during a live blog interview.
“Along these lines, I’ve continued my Senate campaign aiming at 2012, when Sen. Akaka’s current term ends (Sen. Inouye’s ends in 2010),” he also noted in an e-mail to supporters.
Case’s previous missive had the former 2nd district Congressman still mulling his political future and whether he even wanted one.
— Nicole Duran
Ex-Governor’s Son Eyes Challenge to Alexander
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) may not have a clear path to re-election after all.
The Memphis Flyer reported Sunday that Mike McWherter (D), a lawyer and businessman who is the son of former Gov. Ned McWherter (D), is preparing to run for the Senate in 2008. The younger McWherter told the Flyer that the only thing that would keep him out of the Senate race is a bid by former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D), who fell just 3 points short in the 2006 Senate race and is unlikely to try again next year.
McWherter, 51, was a lawyer in Nashville until his father was elected governor in 1986. He then took over the family’s beer distribution business in Jackson.
The elder McWherter, who is now 77, is still popular in the state and some of that popularity could transfer to his son. But Alexander remains a fixture in state politics, and Tennessee has trended Republican of late, particularly in statewide federal elections.
Through March 31, Alexander had $816,000 in his campaign account.
Other Democrats mentioned as possible Senate candidates include state Sen. Rosalind Kurita and former state party Chairman Bob Tuke.
— Josh Kurtz
Developer Opens Vault to Take On Domenici
A Santa Fe real estate developer told several media outlets last week he wants to challenge Sen. Pete Domenici (R) in 2008 and has seeded his campaign with $400,000 from his own pocket.
Democrat Don Wiviott, 51, is describing himself as a social liberal and a fiscal moderate who is running because he is tired of seeing New Mexico children leave the state to look for economic opportunities elsewhere. Wiviott has said he might be willing to spend $800,000 to $1 million overall on the race.
While Democrats believe Domenici could be vulnerable to the right type of challenger, it’s hard to say that Wiviott, a political unknown, fills the bill at this early stage. Gov. Bill Richardson (D), who is running for president, continues to deny that he has any interest in a Senate bid.
Should Domenici, who is 75, choose not to seek a seventh term in 2008, some high-profile Democrats, such as Rep. Tom Udall, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez and former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, may contemplate the race.
In the meantime, two other Democrats, former U.S. Attorney John Kelly, who narrowly lost a House race in 2000, and Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, are openly pondering the Senate election.
NRCC Unfazed by Loss of Prized House Recruit
U.S. Attorney Tom Marino has spurned the National Republican Congressional Committee and opted not to challenge Rep. Christopher Carney (D) next year in the GOP-leaning 10th district.
The conservative, Northeastern Pennsylvania seat is a top NRCC target, and Marino was one of the committee’s most prized potential recruits. Now that he isn’t running, Republicans are similarly high on wealthy businessman Dan Meuser, who is exploring a 2008 bid.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is selling Marino’s decision as a sign that Carney is safer than the NRCC claims. The NRCC is downplaying Marino’s decision and contends the GOP is still primed to oust Carney.
“The National Republicans’ inability to get their top recruit to run for Congress shows just how strong and effective Congressman Carney is,” said DCCC spokeswoman Carrie James.
NRCC spokesman Ken Spain countered that Carney’s House voting record is the GOP’s best recruiting tool, and vowed that the committee will find a top-tier candidate.
“The question is not if but which Republican will defeat Chris Carney next year,” Spain said.
— David M. Drucker
Club for Growth Ups Its Attacks on State Treasurer
The Club for Growth last week increased its ad buy in support of former Rep. Jim Ryun’s (R) 2nd district candidacy by $25,000, bringing to $100,000 the total it is spending on television spots in the Kansas City and Topeka media markets.
Meanwhile, Ryun unveiled “Training Log,” a campaign e-mail newsletter designed to highlight the ex-Member’s grass-roots campaign activities. Ryun has been campaigning full time since the beginning of the year, and hopes to earn the right to challenge Rep. Nancy Boyda (D), who ousted him last year.
Ryun is facing state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins in the GOP primary, and the Club for Growth’s ad buy hits her as a “tax-hiker” who is unfit to represent the eastern Kansas district.
House GOP Adds 10 Members to ROMP
House Republicans have added 10 Members to the Regain Our Majority Program.
House leaders select Members they think might be vulnerable and raise and steer additional funds to their re-election campaigns.
The first 10 ROMP Members were announced in March.
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) will host fundraisers in the new quarter, which begins July 1, for the following incumbents: freshmen Vern Buchanan (Florida’s 13th district) and Dean Heller (Nevada’s 2nd); sophomores Charlie Dent (Pennsylvania’s 15th), Randy Kuhl (New York’s 29th) and Thelma Drake (Virginia’s 2nd); perennial Democratic target Christopher Shays (Connecticut’s 4th); Mike Ferguson (New Jersey’s 7th); Mark Kirk (Illinois’ 10th); Marilyn Musgrave (Colorado’s 4th); and Jim Walsh (New York’s 25th).
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targeted Shays and Musgrave early in the previous cycle, while Kirk, Ferguson and Walsh had unexpectedly close calls.
Kirk benefited from ROMP during the 2004 cycle, but GOP leaders were not particularly concerned about him last year and took him off the list.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) shepherded the ROMP program in the previous quarter.
Democratic Committees Retain Cash Advantage
The House and Senate campaign committees last week reported how much money they raised and spent in May, with Democrats on both sides of the Capitol boasting a $10 million cash-on-hand lead some 17 months before the 2008 elections.
On the Senate side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised almost $4.4 million in May and spent $2.2 million. The committee showed close to $14.3 million in the bank and $5 million in debt at the end of last month.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $3.3 million and spent $2.5 million. The committee ended May with $4.3 million and no debt.
House Republicans raised just slightly more than their Democratic counterparts last month, but they remain at a heavy financial disadvantage as they continue to pay down a large debt left over from the previous cycle.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $4.5 million and spent $2.3 million. It showed $11.5 million in the bank and $4.6 million in debt.
The National Republican Congressional Committee also raised about $4.5 million in May but spent $4.3 million. The committee showed $1.8 million in cash and debts of just under $6.8 million.