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FLORIDA: Kilmer Bid Versus Boyd

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) traveled to Florida on Friday night to raise money for state Rep. Bev Kilmer (R).

Reynolds was expected to raise $100,000 for Kilmer in her nascent campaign for the 2nd district seat currently held by Rep. Allen Boyd (D). Kilmer has not yet filed a financial report with the Federal Election Commission.

Boyd, who has held the Tallahassee-based district since 1996, is publicly considering a Senate bid in the event Sen. Bob Graham (D) decides not to seek a fourth term.

Kilmer has said that regardless of Boyd’s decision she is planning to make the race. She has served in the House since 1998 and is currently the head of the Education Committee.

Although Boyd has won re-election easily, the district would be competitive in an open seat environment. President Bush would have taken 51 percent in the district in 2000, but its registration heavily favors Democrats.

— Chris Cillizza

PENNSYLVANIA

Pediatrician to Take on Psychologist Murphy

Pediatrician Mark Boles (D) announced Friday that he would challenge freshman Rep. Tim Murphy (R) in the 18th district.

“I’m a pediatrician, not a politician — and I know that the medicine that Rep. Tim Murphy and his Republican colleagues are offering is simply not working for the people of our community,” Boles said at his announcement in his hometown of Monroeville.

Boles may not have the Democratic field to himself though, as Terry Kelly, a researcher with the RAND Corporation, is also interested in the seat.

Murphy, a child psychologist, won the Pittsburgh-area district with surprising ease in 2002 after the candidate endorsed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee lost the primary.

Earlier in that cycle, Democrats were unable to convince then-Rep. Frank Mascara (D) to run against Murphy, even though he lived in the district. Mascara chose instead to challenge Rep. John Murtha (D) in a Democratic primary, which he lost 64 percent to 36 percent.

George W. Bush would have won 52 percent in the district, which was drawn by state legislators with Murphy in mind during the 2001 remapping.

— C.C.

ALABAMA

A. Davis Trounces Three Prominent Pols in Poll

Freshman Rep. Artur Davis (D) appears to have a solid hold on his Birmingham-based 7th district, according to a poll he released last week.

Davis beat three potential Democratic challengers handily in the poll of 500 likely primary voters conducted May 19-22. The poll, conducted by Anzalone-Liszt Research of Montgomery, Ala., had a 5 percent margin of error.

In the poll, Davis led state Sen. Roger Smitherman, 61 percent to 14 percent; state Sen. Charles Steele, 62 percent to 12 percent; and state Sen. Hank Sanders, 61 percent to 16 percent. While none of the legislators has taken steps toward challenging Davis, they are among the most prominent elected officials in the district. Sanders, who sought the 7th district Democratic nomination in 1992, recently said that he would not run in 2004.

The poll showed Davis, who defeated five-term Rep. Earl Hilliard (D) in an acrimonious Democratic primary in 2002, with high favorable ratings among both black and white voters across the district.

In a district that gave Al Gore 65 percent of the vote in the 2000 presidential election, Republicans are not a factor.

— Josh Kurtz

ARKANSAS

Huckabee Puts Senate Decision on Back Burner

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said last week that he has no plans to contemplate, much less decide, on a challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) this summer.

“Everybody else seems to be thinking about it, but I’m not,” Huckabee told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “I’m not because I really don’t have time to, and it’s not part of my job description.”

Huckabee is seen as Republicans’ most likely candidate against the freshman Senator. Huckabee has run for Senate once before, in 1992, losing to then-Sen. Dale Bumpers (D) 60 percent to 40 percent.

He was running for Senate again in 1996 when the sitting Democratic governor resigned, and Huckabee, who was then lieutenant governor, ascended to the office. He was elected to a full term in 1998 and re-elected in 2002.

Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R) has had discussions with White House senior adviser Karl Rove about the race but insists he is not interested. Hutchinson, who is currently the undersecretary of Homeland Security for border and transportation security, has not totally ruled the race out, however.

In the event neither Huckabee nor Hutchinson run, former state Sen. Gunner DeLay (R) is mentioned as a possible candidate.

Lincoln won with 55 percent in the 1996 open-seat race and is well-positioned to run for a second term. She ended March with $1.2 million on hand.

— C.C.

CALIFORNIA

Life Imitates Art, James Stewart Runs for Senate

Comparisons to “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” will be inevitable: A 42-year-old barber from Temecula named James Stewart announced last week that he is running for Senate.

Stewart becomes the third Republican seeking to challenge two-term Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in 2004. He joins former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey and gospel singer Danney Ball as the officially declared candidates, though others are expected to follow.

Stewart told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that he decided to run after hearing so many of his customers complain about the government.

“I’m basically a frustrated voter,” Stewart said. “I think it’s time for a change … someone who’s just like me, a normal person with good ideas.”

In a related development, former California Gov. Pete Wilson (R), who also spent eight years in the Senate, told a Ventura County GOP gathering last week that he would not rule out challenging Boxer, even though he has taken no steps to prepare for a race.

Wilson, according to the Ventura County Star, said he “learned a while ago never to say never.”

— J.K.

COLORADO

Owens Seeks to Raise Profile With Think Tank

In a move that could have implications for 2004 or 2008, Gov. Bill Owens (R) has created a Denver-based think tank to promote his conservative ideas. The politically ambitious governor informed conservative national leaders about the fledgling Center for the New American Century at a reception in Washington, D.C., last week.

“What I’m trying to do is have an impact on policy within the state,” Owens told The Denver Post.

Former Colorado Republican Party Executive Director Alan Philip will head the new think tank.

Owens is frequently touted as a likely future candidate for national office. He could run for Senate in 2004 if Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) decides to retire. Or he could wait until 2008 to see if Sen. Wayne Allard (R) decides to adhere to a term-limits pledge. Some national GOP leaders believe Owens could be a viable presidential contender in 2008.

— J.K.

GEORGIA

Thurmond Will Defer to Baker in Senate Election

While Democrats continue to search for a top-tier candidate in the open-seat race to replace retiring Sen. Zell Miller (D) in 2004, state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond (D) refuses to rule out making a bid.

But Thurmond told reporters from Morris Communications Corp.’s Georgia newspapers last week that he wants state Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D) to have first crack at the seat.

“Right now, Thurbert Baker is the outstanding, top option for the Democrats,” Thurmond is quoted as saying in the Athens Banner-Herald. “What I’ve said to Thurbert is, if he decides not to, I’ll consider it. Because right now, I support him if he decides to run.”

Under Georgia law, both Baker and Thurmond would have to resign their state positions to run for the Senate.

— J.K.

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