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ILLINOIS: Race Changes Without Carol Moseley-Braun

Ending months of speculation about a possible bid to reclaim her old seat, former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D) announced Friday that she would not enter the 2004 Senate race.

At the same time, speculation began anew about whether the former Senator now plans to mount a presidential bid next year.

“Fortunately, the current field of Democratic primary candidates is comprised of quality individuals and that number is likely to grow,” she said in a statement announcing that she will pass on a Senate bid. “It will not serve the eventual goal of winning the general election to engage in a campaign that leaves the Democratic primary winner a weak opponent to a well-financed incumbent.”

According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday, Moseley-Braun asked Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe last week to reserve a spot for her among the 2004 presidential candidates at the DNC’s February winter meeting. However, her three-page statement did not specifically refer to a possible presidential run.

“I am convinced that I can serve my country at this time by taking up new challenges to provide vision and leadership at this critical point in our nation’s history,” said Moseley-Braun, who served as ambassador to New Zealand after her 1998 Senate loss.

Currently five Democratic candidates are expected to vie for the right to face Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R). They are former Chicago Board of Education President Gery Chico, wealthy financier Blair Hull, state Comptroller Dan Hynes, state Sen. Barack Obama and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.

Fitzgerald, who narrowly defeated Moseley-Braun in 1998, is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents up for re-election this cycle, and may face a challenge in a GOP primary in March 2004.

— Lauren W. Whittington


Special Election Set, But June Runoff Likely

Gov. Rick Perry (R) officially set May 3 as the date for the special election to replace Rep. Larry Combest (R) in the 19th district.

Ten candidates have already announced for the race, eight of whom are Republicans. Filing for the race officially closes April 2.

In the likely event that no candidate is able to garner 50 percent of the vote in the primary, a runoff will be held on June 3.

The West Texas seat, which Combest has held since 1984, tilts strongly toward Republicans. Already a first tier of GOP candidates has emerged: state Rep. Carl Isett, Midland businessman Mike Conaway, former Midland Mayor Carroll Thomas and businessman Randy Neugebauer. Isett may be hampered by the May 3 date because the Legislature will be in session for the vast majority of that time.

Midland Mayor Mike Canon, who would have been among the frontrunners, decided against the race Thursday, saying that “my place is here in Midland.”

— Chris Cillizza


Hulshof Will Seek Fifth Term in the House in ’04

Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R) ruled out a gubernatorial bid Friday, vowing instead to run for a fifth term in 2004.

“I cannot in good conscience provide the representation people deserve, be a good husband and father, take on the additional responsibility of the family business and meet the demands that a statewide run would create,” Hulshof said in a statement.

Hulshof’s decision takes a potential opportunity off the board for Democrats.

Although Hulshof has held the district relatively easily since he beat then-Rep. Harold Volkmer (D), it could be competitive in an open-seat scenario.

— C.C.

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