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OHIO: Coming Soon to Your TV: More Jerry Springer

Controversial talk-show host Jerry Springer (D) officially filed his Senate candidacy papers late last week, although he won’t make a final decision about whether he will seek the 2004 Democratic nomination until the end of the month.

Springer filed papers legally making him a candidate in order to begin running a 30-minute infomercial that he hopes will help him tap into a national donor base.

The biographical spot began airing last week and will run in several cities, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, San Antonio and New York.

If he runs, Springer will face state Sen. Eric Fingerhut in next year’s Democratic primary. The winner will face Sen. George Voinovich (R) in November 2004.

In a surprising move, last week the Ohio Republican Party released a poll showing Fingerhut beating Springer in the primary, 57 percent to 21 percent. The survey of 317 likely primary voters was conducted June 29, 30 and July 1 by the Tarrance Group, a GOP polling firm. It had a 5 percent margin of error.

The talk show host’s associates claim the party’s decision to release the poll shows that Republicans are scared of Springer.

— Lauren W. Whittington


State Education Leader Prepares for Senate Run

With Sen. Fritz Hollings (D) looking less likely to run for re-election, both state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum (D) and Columbia Mayor Bob Coble (D) are interested in replacing him.

Tenenbaum, who was elected in 2002 to a second term with 59 percent, is the preferred choice of national Democrats, who see her as a proven votegetter with crossover party appeal, a must in the increasingly Republican Palmetto State.

“The positives are far outweighing the negatives in terms of my decision whether to run,” Tenenbaum told The Greenville News last week, and many operatives believe she is all but ready to announce for the seat.

Coble has been mayor of Columbia, the state’s capital, for more than a decade.

Both Tenenbaum and Coble have a political base in Columbia (Lexington County), a traditional Republican stronghold.

Among Republicans, Rep. Jim DeMint, former state Attorney General Charlie Condon and wealthy Charleston developer Thomas Ravenel are all in the race.

— Chris Cillizza

Bradley Attacks Inglis in 4th District Showdown

Coming off an unsuccessful primary challenge in 2002, former Public Service Commissioner Phil Bradley (R) is gearing up for a race for the open 4th district seat in 2004.

In announcing his candidacy, Bradley took direct aim at former Rep. Bob Inglis (R), who held the Up Country seat from 1992 to 1998.

Bradley called Inglis a “fringe element” candidate in The Greenville News because of his prior support for term limits and his refusal to accept federal funds for the district.

Inglis vacated the seat to honor his three-term-limit pledge; he challenged Sen. Fritz Hollings (D) unsuccessfully in 1998.

He was replaced by Rep. Jim DeMint (R), who is now running for the Republican Senate nomination.

In Bradley’s 2002 primary challenge, he attacked DeMint as anti-textile because of his vote to grant the president trade promotion authority. Bradley had the support of textile magnate Roger Milliken in that race.

DeMint won the primary race convincingly with 62 percent of the vote, however, and cruised to a general election victory with 69 percent.

Inglis has been in the race and raising money since early in the year. He ended April with $138,000 on hand.

— C.C.


Simmons Endorsement Boosts Ex-Rival Hynes

Millionaire downstate attorney John Simmons (D) dropped out of the Senate race last week and endorsed fellow Democrat and state Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Simmons, whose entrance in the race had been viewed as most harmful to Hynes’ candidacy, said he wanted to avoid a divisive Democratic primary next year in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R).

“I hope that my exit from the race will make the primary less divisive and put Dan in an even better position to win the general election,” Simmons said in a statement.

Other Democrats running include former Chicago School Board President Gery Chico, millionaire businessman Blair Hull, state Sen. Barack Obama, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and health care consultant Joyce Washington.

— L.W.W.


Knowles News May Be The Tip of the Iceberg

While Alaska’s political community was buzzing last week over former Gov. Tony Knowles’ (D) announcement that he would be a candidate for Senate in 2004, an equally intriguing question is whether any Republicans will take on rookie Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in the August 2004 GOP primary.

Increasingly, the answer is looking like yes.

Jerry Hood, secretary-treasurer of the 7,000-member strong Teamsters Local 959 — essentially the most powerful union leader in the Last Frontier and a favorite of national Republicans — said last week that he is “inclined” to run and will announce his decision by the end of July. And former state Sen. Johne Binkley (R) told Roll Call late last week that he is looking hard at making the race.

“I haven’t made a decision, but I’m still considering it seriously and carefully,” he said.

Binkley is a Fairbanks businessman who is chairman of the Alaska Railroad Corp., a state-owned entity. He presumably would have little trouble raising money.

According to published reports last week, former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin is also considering seeking the GOP nod.

If Murkowski, who was appointed to the seat last December by her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski (R), faces a primary challenge, it would almost certainly come from the right. During her two terms in the Alaska House, Lisa Murkowski angered many conservatives by supporting some abortion rights and tax increases. She is also considered vulnerable — in both the primary and the general election — because of the manner in which she was elevated to the Senate.

— Josh Kurtz


Editor Wants to View Politics From Other Side

A Broward County newspaper editor announced last week that he will challenge Rep. Alcee Hastings in the Democratic primary next year.

Keith Clayborne, editor of the black- oriented Broward Times, said he will run for the seat regardless of whether it is open and charged that Hastings has not done enough to help minority constituents in the district. Hastings is considering a bid for Senate.

Clayborne currently does not live or work in the district. A lengthy list of Democratic contenders have been mentioned if Hastings does not run for re-election, including state Rep. Chris Smith, state Sen. Mandy Dawson and Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion.

In other Florida campaign news, state Rep. Gayle Harrell (R) tossed her hat into the race for Rep. Mark Foley’s (R) 16th district seat last week. Harrell was elected to the state Legislature in 2000.

Foley, who has been running for Senate for months, recently filed papers making his candidacy official.

Other Republicans eyeing the seat include attorney Rob Siedlecki and former state Rep. Tom Warner, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for state attorney general last year.

— L.W.W.


Marin Mobilizing For Upcoming Senate Race

Just two weeks after resigning as U.S. treasurer, Rosario Marin (R) has moved back to her Los Angeles-area home and — more significantly — created an exploratory committee for a Senate run.

Although no timetable for an official campaign kickoff has been announced, the 44-year-old former mayor of Huntington Park is almost certain to seek the GOP nomination to take on Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in 2004.

“The world has changed, but Barbara Boxer hasn’t,” Marin said in a statement.

Marin plans to travel the state stumping for votes while raising money and putting together a political team. The announcement of her exploratory committee was put out by Janice Ploeger Glaab, co-owner of a Laguna Beach-based campaign consulting firm and a veteran, like Marin, of former Gov. Pete Wilson’s (R) administration.

Besides Marin, former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey and gospel singer Danney Ball are also seeking the Republican Senate nomination.

— J.K.


Oh Brother: Mathesons Signal Plans to Run

Rep. Jim Matheson (D) announced last week that he would seek a third term in the sprawling 2nd Congressional district — just hours after his brother, University of Utah Law School Dean Scott Matheson Jr. (D), announced that he would run for governor in 2004.

“I’m enjoying every aspect of [serving in Congress], and we want to keep doing what we’re doing,” the 43-year-old Member told the Deseret Morning News.

Under any circumstances, Jim Matheson would face a tough 2004 re-election campaign in a district that would have given George W. Bush 63 percent of the vote in the 2000 presidential election. Matheson defeated then-state Rep. John Swallow (R) by just 1,600 votes last year, and Swallow is likely to run again, though he may not have the Republican field to himself.

It is unclear, however, what effect the presence of two Mathesons on the Utah ballot will have on the 2nd Congressional district race.

“We’ve reached the conclusion that on balance it brings some real energy, excitement and dimension to the campaign not had before,” Scott Matheson told the newspaper.

Jim and Scott Jr. are sons of the late Gov. Scott Matheson (D), a popular figure in Utah politics who served from 1977 to 1985.

— J.K.


Hip-Hop Mogul’s Ride for Official Is Probed

A mini-political scandal that has ensnared hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons may rub off on two rising stars in state politics as well.

Simmons, who has been pushing the state Legislature to repeal New York’s strict, 30-year-old anti-drug laws, is under investigation for failing to register with the state as a statehouse lobbyist. And, according to Friday’s New York Post online edition, Simmons has been called to testify before the state Lobbying Commission.

Simmons is also being investigated for the possibility that he gave an illegal gift to New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels (R) when Daniels hitched a ride from New York to Albany on Simmons’ helicopter. Daniels, who is mentioned as a possible candidate for Senate in 2004 or, more likely, for statewide office in 2006, insists he reimbursed the rap mogul.

Also caught up in the controversy is former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo (D), a once and possibly future candidate for governor. Cuomo has been working with Simmons to repeal the drug laws, but he too has not registered as a formal lobbyist. According to the Post, he has sent a letter to the Lobbying Commission informing the commission who his lobbyists are.

— J.K.

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