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MICHIGAN: Legislator Is Latest to Consider Smith Seat Bid

Add state Rep. Mickey Mortimer (R) to the lengthy list of candidates eyeing the open 7th district race.

Mortimer issued a press release last week stating that he is considering running for the seat of retiring Rep. Nick Smith (R) and will make an announcement soon.

Smith is adhering to a self-imposed term-limits pledge and is retiring at the end of the 108th Congress. He has said he expects six to eight candidates to eventually get into the race to succeed him.

GOP state Reps. Clark Bisbee and Gene DeRossett have already announced they are running for the safe Republican seat.

Other Republicans considering the race include Calhoun County Clerk-Register Anne Norlander, former state Sen. John Schwarz and former state Sen. Phil Hoffman.

— Lauren W. Whittington


Baseball Fan Giuliani Will Pitch in for Bunning

Sen. Jim Bunning (R) will pad his campaign coffers in early August with a fundraiser featuring former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R).

Giuliani and Bunning will appear at the Kentucky Speedway Aug. 3 to raise funds for Bunning’s 2004 re-election race.

Following his leadership in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Giuliani became the most sought-after fundraiser in GOP circles. He is also mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2008.

Bunning showed nearly $1.2 million in the bank at the end of March after raising $237,000 in the first three months of the year.

So far only former state Attorney General Fred Cowan (D) has announced a challenge to Bunning despite the Senator’s narrow 1998 open-seat victory over then-Rep. Scotty Baesler (D).

Cowan raised $35,500 in the first quarter, all but $8,000 of which came from his own pocket. He had $5,000 on hand.

Current lieutenant governor nominee Charlie Owen, Louisville stockbroker Stan Curtis, state Treasurer Jonathan Miller, state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo and Jefferson County Attorney Irv Maze are other Democrats interested in the race.

Democrats may have lost their best hope to defeat Bunning late last year when Gov. Paul Patton admitted to an affair with a state employee, effectively ending his political career.

— Chris Cillizza


The Full Monte: Lawyer Eyes Nickles Challenge

With the majority of Sooner State politicos holding their collective breath in anticipation of Sen. Don Nickles’ (R) decision on whether to run for re-election in 2004, attorney Monte Johnson (D) has decided to run regardless of what the state’s senior Senator does.

“We need to have a U.S. Senator that will pay more attention to the needs of working people,” Johnson told the Fort Smith Times Record.

Johnson, a lawyer from Sallisaw, has never before sought elective office and is given little chance in this race.

Should Nickles decide to seek a fifth Senate term, he would be a heavy favorite. If he retires, Rep. Brad Carson (D) would enter the race and be his party’s likely nominee.

The Republican field in an open-seat scenario would likely be more crowded, with former Reps. J.C. Watts and Tom Coburn mentioned as well as current Rep. Ernest Istook, Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin and Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphries.

— C.C.


Sweeney’s Statewide Ambitions Examined

Rep. John Sweeney’s (R) long-term political ambitions have been the focus of media scrutiny lately in the upstate 20th district.

Although the third-term Member insisted in an interview with the Glens Falls Post-Star published this week that “I’ve not thought beyond the notion that I will likely run for re-election” in 2004, two media outlets quoted party leaders saying Sweeney is certain to seek statewide office soon.

State GOP Chairman Alexander “Sandy” Treadwell told the newspaper that Sweeney is one of five people he has on a list of potential future statewide candidates. He would not identify the others, but Sweeney has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2006 if the incumbent, George Pataki (R), does not seek a fourth term.

Sweeney is a friend and former aide of Pataki’s, but he has clashed with the governor on environmental policy and recently called for more state aid to New York City — a move that is sure to be popular in the all-important New York metropolitan area.

Sweeney told the newspaper that he is flattered at all the talk about higher office.

“Maybe they will ask me to do something else,” he said of party leaders. “We’ll have to see when the time comes.”

— Josh Kurtz


Webb Says He’s Tired, Ritter Probes GOP Site

Beleaguered Democrats hoping a top-tier challenger emerges to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) in 2004 may be disappointed by an interview outgoing Denver Mayor Wellington Webb (D) gave recently to the Rocky Mountain News.

Webb did not discuss the possibility of a Senate run, but he made it clear that he is happy to be retiring this month after a dozen years as mayor and 31 in public office.

“I’m exhausted,” he said Monday.

Meanwhile, a less-heralded potential Democratic Senate contender has been in the news for a move that should appeal to partisan Democrats. Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter announced last week that he is investigating state Senate Republicans for using the Colorado state seal on their campaign Web site.

Using the seal for political fundraising is illegal, but Colorado Republicans say the Web site is being used primarily by Senators to comment on policy and electoral issues.

“I want to talk to those individuals who have the Web site and conduct my own inquiry to see if it’s an appropriate use,” Ritter told The Denver Post.

— J.K.


Blood and Sand: Naval Officer Ready to Run

Three years removed from his challenge to Sen. Kent Conrad (D), Duane Sand (R) wants to take on Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) in 2004, according to an interview in the Fargo Forum.

“I’m very interested,” Sand told the paper, while acknowledging that he would not likely be the first choice of national Republicans.

Former Gov. Ed Schafer (R) has been the focus of the majority of recruiting efforts so far this cycle but seems entirely uninterested in the race. Other names mentioned as potential Republican challengers to Dorgan include Bismarck Mayor John Warford and Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

Sand, who is in the Navy, is currently serving at the Pentagon and hopes to be discharged and return to the Roughrider State in the fall.

In his 2000 campaign, Sand walked the state and upset a better-known state legislator in the state’s convention to win the GOP nomination. He even received a campaign visit from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) but made no real dent in Conrad’s support. The Senator won 62 percent.

Dorgan is another political giant in the state. He beat a sitting state Senator in 1998 with 63 percent of the vote and Republicans believe that Dorgan is nearly impossible to oust without Schafer.

— C.C.

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