Nation: Raitt Has a Heart for 3 Top Senate Challengers

Posted June 2, 2008 at 6:29pm

Democratic Senate challengers would like to give their opponents something to talk about.

Songstress Bonnie Raitt is headlining fundraisers across the country in the weeks ahead for Democrats challenging incumbent Republican Senators.

Raitt’s first tour stop is in Portland, Maine, on Aug. 11 to raise money at a concert for Rep. Tom Allen (D), who is challenging Sen. Susan Collins (R). The next evening, the famed singer will perform in Concord, N.H., for former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D), who faces Sen. John Sununu (R) for a second time this fall. Most tickets cost $60 to $85.

Raitt, who is no stranger to activism in environmental and social justice circles, will also headline a fundraiser in Duluth, Minn., on Aug. 24 for comedian Al Franken (D), who is running against Sen. Norm Coleman (R).

Van Hollen, Cole Spar On Outside Groups

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) on Monday continued to press his Republican counterpart on the issue of outside groups attempting to influence House elections.

Repeating a statement he made on “Fox News Sunday” on May 25, Van Hollen sent a letter to National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) urging him to work to keep outside groups from advertising in House races — and to tell GOP donors not to contribute to groups that run independent expenditure ads in the races.

Van Hollen noted that the likely presidential nominees, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), both have expressed their distaste for the influence of outside money on the White House election, though plenty of third-party groups are expected to play in the election.

“Our candidates and our committees would have greater control over the message and voters would benefit from a transparent debate,” Van Hollen wrote to Cole.

Cole and Republicans were quick to dismiss Van Hollen’s call, noting that a liberal group, Americans United for Change, is on the air in four Congressional districts, running ads that praise four potentially vulnerable Democratic House Members.

“Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s pious statement regarding 527 political ads is nothing short of self-serving, insincere propaganda,” Cole said in a statement.

21st Century Democrats Endorses 5 Candidates

21st Century Democrats, a group that provides grass-roots help to the liberal candidates it backs, announced five new Congressional endorsements last week.

The group endorsed Oregon state Speaker Jeff Merkley, the challenger to Sen. Gordon Smith (R); Missouri state Rep. Judy Baker, one of several Democrats bidding for the House seat that Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R) is vacating; Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), who recently won a special election and is now bidding for a full term; New Mexico Public Utility Commissioner Ben Ray Lujan (D), the frontrunner to replace Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.); and Dennis Shulman, a rabbi who is one of two Democrats bidding to take on Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) in November.

— Shira Toeplitz and Josh Kurtz