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GEORGIA: Chairman Thomas Aids Both Isakson and Collins

As if Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) hadn’t sparked enough controversy of late, second-quarter Federal Election Commission records appear to show the prickly Ways and Means chairman taking sides in the Peach State Senate primary between fellow GOP Reps. Johnny Isakson and Mac Collins.

Thomas’ Congressional Majority Committee PAC gave $5,000, the maximum amount allowed for the primary, to Isakson June 3. Collins, a member of Ways and Means, entered the race in May.

However, a Thomas spokesman said the Congressman also cut a $5,000 check to Collins at the end of June, but it was not included on the June 30 FEC report.

“Johnny Isakson made a decision to run earlier than Mac Collins, but both would make outstanding United States Senators,” Thomas said in a statement. “My goal is to help provide resources so both men can run an adequately financed campaign, and I was happy to help both.”

Former Rep. Tillie Fowler (R-Fla.), who gave $1,000 to Isakson, was the only other current or former Member to contribute in the race.

Both Isakson and Collins are vying for the seat of retiring Sen. Zell Miller (D). Godfather’s Pizza magnate Herman Cain and businessman Al Bartel are also seeking the GOP nod.

Democrats have yet to field a top-tier candidate, although national and state party operatives have had recent discussions with former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young (D), who has expressed some interest in the Senate race.

— Lauren W. Whittington


Radio Exec Won’t Run Next Year, Blames FCC

Magnum Radio Group owner David Magnum (R) announced last week that he will not run for the Senate or the House next year, after a planned radio station merger with Mid-West Family Radio fell victim to the recent Federal Communication Commission media ownership rules change. The House voted overwhelmingly to block the change last week.

Magnum had been mentioned as a possible candidate in the 2004 GOP Senate primary, and more recently his name was circulating as a 2nd district challenger to Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D).

In a lengthy statement, the 40-year-old political neophyte said he intends to pursue a career in public service in the future but at this point will concentrate on his broadcasting business.

“After a lot of high-level encouragement from people I respect, I had all but made a commitment to run for Congress,” Magnum said. “Then, these new FCC rules shocked us all. So, as it turns out, I’ll roll my broadcast sleeves back up and work to further grow these stations.”

— L.W.W.


Broyhill Wins Blessing Of Three Ex-Senators

Solidifying his frontrunner status in the 5th district, furniture magnate Ed Broyhill (R) received the endorsement of three former GOP Senators last week, including his father, Jim.

Sens. Lauch Faircloth and Jesse Helms also endorsed Broyhill’s candidacy in the crowded Republican race to replace Rep. Richard Burr (R), who is running for Senate.

Helms, a controversial and legendary figure in Tar Heel State politics, held his Senate seat from 1972 until he retired in 2002; Faircloth served one term in the Senate from 1992 to 1998.

Jim Broyhill represented a western North Carolina House seat from 1962 until July 1986 when he was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Sen. John East’s (R) suicide. Broyhill lost to Terry Sanford (D) later in the year in a bid for a full six-year term.

The endorsements of three such prominent Republicans are likely to give Broyhill’s campaign a healthy momentum boost following his official entry into the race last week.

He joined state Sen. Virginia Foxx, former state Rep. Ed Powell, attorney and 2002 Senate candidate Jim Snyder as well as wealthy businessmen Nathan Tabor and Jay Helvey in the Republican race.

No Democrats have announced in this strongly Republican district.

— Chris Cillizza


Field of McCarthy Foes For Primary Is Growing

At least three Democrats are interested in challenging Rep. Karen McCarthy (D) in 2004.

Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Jaime Metzl, Kansas City Councilman Troy Nash and Jackson County Legislator Dan Tarwater are all weighing the possibility of taking on the embattled Congresswoman.

McCarthy has held the Kansas City-based 5th district seat since 1994, receiving only nominal primary and general election opponents in the heavily Democratic area.

But following an incident in March where she fell down an escalator in the Capitol and her subsequent treatment for alcoholism at an Arizona clinic, Democrats have grown concerned that her personal life could unnecessarily jeopardize the district.

McCarthy’s chief of staff, Phil Scaglia, resigned earlier this month but quickly tamped down rumors that he was considering a challenge to his longtime boss.

McCarthy aides insist she will run for re-election in 2004 despite her lackluster fundraising to this point in the cycle.

She had raised only $32,000 through June but did retain $422,000 on hand.

— C.C.


Henry: Cancer Diagnosis Won’t Affect ’04 Decision

Lt. Gov. Steve Henry (D) insists his recently diagnosed prostate cancer does not mean he will not run for Senate in 2004.

“If [Sen.] John Kerry [D-Mass.] can run for president of the United States, I suppose I can run for Senate,” Henry said. Kerry had surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his prostate in February; he is considered one of the frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Henry was set late last week to undergo surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore — the same place where Kerry had his operation.

Regardless of how quickly he recovers, Henry’s political future is in doubt.

After serving eight years as the second-in-command to Gov. Paul Patton (D), Henry decided not to enter this year’s gubernatorial contest after the federal government sued him over alleged overbillings to Medicare and Medicaid. Henry, who is an orthopedist, has countersued.

He is seen as a long-shot candidate for Senate given his ongoing legal problems. Democrats have yet to field a top-tier challenger to Sen. Jim Bunning (R), who was narrowly elected in an open-seat contest in 1998.

Among the Democratic names mentioned are Louisville stockbroker Stan Curtis, 2003 lieutenant governor nominee Charlie Owen and state Treasurer Jonathan Miller.

— C.C.


So Farr So Good, but Strong Challenge Looms

Rep. Sam Farr (D) could face his first serious challenge in a decade in 2004.

State Sen. Bruce McPherson (R), the 2002 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, told the Monterey Herald last week that challenging Farr is one of several options he is considering for next year. Others include running for the state Assembly, taking a job in the Bush administration, going to work for the governor if a Republican wins the recall election, or taking a break from politics altogether.

McPherson, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits, said he would confer with his family and fellow Republicans and announce his decision in the fall.

“I really love this work,” he told the newspaper. “I love this form of public service.”

Although McPherson is considered a moderate Republican with a bright political future, he would face a decidedly uphill battle in the Central Coast district, a Democratic stronghold. Since winning a close special election in 1993 and a tight re-election battle in 1994, Farr has won by increasing margins through the years.

He reported just $46,000 in his campaign account as of June 30, however.

— Josh Kurtz


Udall Raises Money for Redistricting Lawsuit

Rep. Mark Udall (D) has begun raising money to help pay for Colorado Democrats’ lawsuit to overturn a new Congressional redistricting plan.

The Daily Camera in Boulder last week reported that Udall hired a telemarketing firm to call Democratic voters across the Centennial State to ask them to help the Democrats’ legal challenge. Any contributions will be treated as campaign contributions and recorded on Udall’s Federal Election Commission forms.

The Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Bill Owens (R) pushed through a new redistricting plan this spring that solidifies the GOP’s hold on two swing districts in the state. State Attorney General Ken Salazar and other Democrats sued to overturn the plan, arguing that the Legislature forfeited its once-a-decade responsibility to draw Congressional district maps when it deadlocked on a plan in 2001.

Alan Salazar, Udall’s chief of staff, told the Camera that, so far, Democratic voters have been responsive to the sales pitch.

“People do know what happened, and they are unhappy about how it was done,” he said.

— J.K.


Deutsch Takes His Feud With Penelas to the FEC

Rep. Peter Deutsch (D) last week filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against fellow Senate candidate Alex Penelas (D) charging the Miami-Dade mayor with illegal fundraising.

The complaint alleges that Penelas “knowingly accepted contributions made by employees and vendors of CarePlus Medical Centers Inc.,” which had been solicited in an “illegally coercive manner.”

The owner of CarePlus had sent an e-mail to employees in March that stated they were each “expected” to give $1,000 to Penelas. At the time, Penelas had not yet opened a campaign account and therefore his campaign said it would reject any contributions that resulted from the e-mail. However, a review of Penelas’ June 30 FEC filing show that he received $68,000 in contributions from employees, relatives and business associates of the firm.

“This is a slash-and-trash strategy that does not speak to what people care about in politics, which is civility,” Penelas spokesman Ron Sachs told the Miami Herald last week in response to the complaint.

The FEC complaint is the latest shot fired in a growing feud between Deutsch and Penelas. Deutsch has called the mayor a “pathological liar” and accused him of aiding Republicans in the 2000 presidential election by only tepidly supporting Democrat Al Gore.

Both men are seeking the seat of Sen. Bob Graham (D), should he decide not to seek re-election. Rep. Allen Boyd and former state Education Commissioner Betty Castor are also seeking the Democratic nomination. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D) is exploring a run.

— L.W.W.


Attorney Makes Bid In Holt’s House District

Civil rights attorney and Rutgers University Law School adjunct professor Bruce Afran has formed an exploratory committee for a possible challenge to Rep. Rush Holt (D), the Princeton Packet reported last week.

Afran ran as a Green Party candidate for Senate in 2000, and in announcing the committee, he said his candidacy would bring together the conservative and moderate wings of the Republican Party.

After winning re-election in 2000 by just 653 votes, Holt was not targeted in 2002 and easily won a third term with a 24-point victory over former New Jersey Secretary of State DeForest Soaries (R).

— L.W.W.

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