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MISSOURI: Carnahan to Devote Energy to Gephardt Seat

State Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) resigned his post as Democratic Caucus chairman last week in order to devote more time to his increasingly likely bid for the 3rd district seat.

“I look forward to having more time to concentrate fully on raising the necessary funds and building the extensive network needed to win this seat,” Carnahan said. He is set to report over $100,000 on hand in his April quarterly report.

The son of the late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan (D) and former Sen. Jean Carnahan (D), Russ Carnahan has served in the state House since 1996.

He joins state Sen. Steve Stoll and St. Louis County Clerk Mariano Favazza in the contest on the Democratic side. Former state Rep. Joan Barry has also formed an exploratory committee.

Rep. Richard Gephardt (D) is vacating the seat after 14 terms to make his second bid for the presidency.

Three-time loser Bill Federer (R) has announced his candidacy but is given little chance of victory.

— Chris Cillizza


Ex-Governor Appears Strongest Against Boxer

A new independent statewide poll showed Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) with leads ranging from 3 points to 20 points over the panoply of candidates pondering a challenge to her in 2004.

Boxer’s tightest potential race was against former Gov. Pete Wilson (R), who served in the Senate from 1982 to 1990. Boxer held a 46 percent to 43 percent edge over Wilson, a lead within the survey’s margin of error. Wilson has not indicated that he is interested in a Senate bid.

The Field Poll was conducted April 1-6 of 695 registered voters with a 3.8 percent margin of error.

Boxer held more comfortable leads over her other potential opponents.

She enjoyed a 50 percent to 37 percent advantage over 2002 gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon (R), who was defeated by Gov. Gray Davis (D) 48 percent to 42 percent.

Boxer led GOP Reps. Darrell Issa and Doug Ose by 16 points and Rep. George Radanovich by 20 points. She had a 19-point bulge over U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin (R).

Boxer has held the Golden State Senate seat since 1992; she defeated then-state Treasurer Matt Fong (R) 53 percent to 43 percent in 1998.

— C.C.


Gorton Not Interested In Return Engagement

Former Sen. Slade Gorton (R) took himself out of contention as a challenger to Sen. Patty Murray (D) in 2004 late last week.

Gorton told The Seattle Times that he had “no interest at all” in pursuing a third bid for Senate.

Gorton first won a seat in 1980 when he defeated Sen. Warren Magnusson (D) 54 percent to 46 percent. In his first re-election race, Gorton was defeated by Sen. Brock Adams (D).

Gorton bounced back just two years later however, beating Rep. Mike Lowry (D) 51 percent to 49 percent. After winning a more convincing 56 percent in 1994, Gorton was upset by former Rep. Maria Cantwell (D) by just over 2,000 votes.

Republicans believe they can make a serious run at Murray but lost perhaps their strongest candidate when Rep. Jennifer Dunn decided against the race in early April.

Rep. George Nethercutt is the most likely Senate candidate left in the mix for Republicans.

— C.C.


Another Republican Eyes Boyd’s Seat

State Rep. Bev Kilmer (R) announced last week that she will run for Rep. Alan Boyd’s (D) 2nd district seat next year, regardless of whether Boyd seeks re-election.

Boyd has said he is considering running for Senate if Sen. Bob Graham (D) does not run again.

Kilmer, 52, defeated an embattled incumbent state House Member in 1998 and currently heads the House Education Committee.

Boyd, a farmer and leader in the Blue Dog Coalition, was first elected in 1996. Although Democrats outnumber Republicans in registration in the 2nd district, the conservative panhandle seat has voted for both President Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). At the same time, Boyd has easily won re-election.

One other Republican, Leon County Commission Chairman Tony Grippa, has said he is also considering running in the 2nd, but only if Boyd does not.

— Lauren W. Whittington


Feds Seeks Action on Hatch Act Violation

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel last week announced that it has filed a petition for disciplinary action against a former 4th district Congressional candidate who violated the Hatch Act.

Paul Teel, an investigator in the fraud investigation section of the Mercer County Board of Social Services, ran unsuccessfully in a 1998 Democratic primary in the 4th district. Teel also sought the seat as an Independent in the 2000 general election.

The Hatch Act prohibits state and local employees, who have job duties in connection with federally funded programs, from being a candidate for elective office in a partisan election. The OSC found that during 1998 and 2000, half of Teel’s salary was federally funded.

The penalty for violating the act is removal of the employee from his or her position, or else the state or local agency will be forced to forfeit federal funds equal to two years of the employee’s salary. The employee is also prohibited from being reappointed to a position within the state for the next 18 months.

— L.W.W.


Specter, Toomey Get Company in Primary

Perennial candidate Lester Searer, 78, became the third Republican to enter the 2004 Senate race last week, announcing that he will challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (R) next year. Specter is already facing a challenge from conservative Rep. Pat Toomey (R).

Searer, who is the builder and operator of the Margaretta Mobile Home Park in Lower Windsor Township, was one of three Republicans who challenged Rep. Todd Platts (R) in a primary last year. He received 4 percent of the vote.

In the 2000 Senate race, Searer ran as the Constitution Party candidate against Sen. Rick Santorum (R) and received less than 1 percent of the vote.

Also last week, Specter settled a lawsuit with the Federal Election Commission stemming from his failed 1996 presidential campaign. The four-term Senator agreed to pay $25,000, ending the dispute that originally charged Specter had accepted hundreds of thousand of dollars worth of private plane rides in 1995. Court documents show that the “Arlen Specter ’96” campaign committee will pay the funds to the U.S. Treasury.

— L.W.W.

Shuster Challenger No Small Tomatoes

Rep. Bill Shuster (R) got his first primary opponent last week, when 33-year-old Michael DelGrosso (R) announced he would challenge the second-term lawmaker next year.

Shuster won the seat in a May 2001 special election to succeed his father, former Rep. Bud Shuster (R). DelGrosso, who has never run for political office, also carries a familiar name in the district. His family owns and operates DelGrosso Foods Inc., which produces 1.5 million cases of tomato sauce each year.

DelGrosso graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and worked as a management consultant in the Washington, D.C., suburbs before returning to the district to run, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

— L.W.W.

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